The Original Jason Bigs Times Three

I’m not sure I am actually a participant in this dream. I may be simply a witness — as if I were watching a TV show while standing in the midst of it.

Jason Biggs has been transported into this room, this reality, from elsewhere. But, back where he came from, there are multiple Jason Biggs’. The people in this world, with whom he will be interacting, don’t know that he is from elsewhere.

This original Jason Biggs can’t come back because there’s something wrong with him. This one, who has just appeared in front of me, naked, is the third Jason Biggs to be sent into this situation. Each new Jason Biggs has a harder time fitting in and passing as the original because he has to pretend he’s the same person but he doesn’t share the others’ experiences and memories. Each new Jason Biggs is at a greater risk of being found out.

Jason Biggs is walking away from me, still naked, His buttocks are firm, high and round. As he leaves the room I am in, a woman walks toward him. It’s his first test. They pass each other without incident.

I am following Jason Biggs. He stops at a table which has plates of sliced vegetables on it. He stops and eats some sweet red pepper. Another woman approaches, this one is a person of some authority. I eat some of the peppers with Jason Biggs. The woman accepts Jason Biggs (and me) as who he is (we are) supposed to be.

That Time (9) There’s No Nice Way to Tell This

The way Frankie killed himself was cruel. The act itself is inherently cruel to loved ones but he did something that was diabolically clever.

For most of his 41 years, Frankie lived with Ethel. I find that incomprehensible. He was the first of us to leave home, having moved into a halfway house while in high school. He married young (I think they were married) and lived with his wife for 1-2 years. After divorce, he joined the Navy and lived on base for 2-3 years. Before he finished his service he wanted out but they wouldn’t let him so he went AWOL and moved back to the family home in Falmouth with Ethel (and maybe Gregg and Anne). A year or two later he turned himself in to the Navy and spent a few months in the brig. After that, he and Ethel lived together until his suicide.

There was a disconnect between the Frankie I thought I knew and the Frankie who chose such a dramatic exit. Frankie was… nice. I mean, like the epitome of nice. He was kind and he was gentle. He was thoughtful and considerate. He gave of himself to many people. He could be intensely shy but he also had the drive to be social. He did volunteer work. He worked for a while at a home for people with intellectual disabilities. He was active in the Unitarian Church. He was interesting, smart, and helpful whenever the opportunity arose.

He and Ethel were close friends. When I invited him to join me on a vacation one time he came and brought her with him. I never got it. I still don’t. In a family of such ruin, where most of us didn’t stay in each other’s lives, where some of us don’t speak to each other, where none of us were close to our parents as children, how did this exception manifest?

Was it pathological? Was it regressive on his part? Was he incapable of being independent?

After his death, I discovered something I think they had in common. Her diagnosis came late in life but Ethel lived with OCD. Her symptoms were mild for most of her adult years and didn’t create any serious difficulties that I am aware of. But after Frankie’s suicide, her symptoms accelerated and she became more obviously symptomatic.

While I’m on the subject I’m gonna drop a minor bomb. I believe that everyone in my family lives with some degree of autism and OCD. This, of course, includes my parents. I’m not going to explain any further because it’s not relevant outside of the context here, which is that Frankie and Ethel were more alike than I knew.

So, how did he do it? I know you’re wondering what made Frankie’s suicide diabolically clever so I will tell you. He did it in a way that brought us in the room with him and made us witnesses to his drunken, stumbling departure from this world.

Frankie had a heart condition, one that required medication.

Neither Frankie nor Ethel were heavy drinkers but they had a nightly habit of drinking one small gin and tonic together while playing cards.

One night, there was no gin. They talked about ending the ritual and giving up the gin.

The next day, Ethel came home with a bottle of gin. The ritual resumed.

Frankie had not been taking his heart medication for several weeks. He had been saving them. On this night, after Ethel went to bed, Frankie retired to his room with the newly bought bottle of gin, the one that they had decided to forgo, the one that she decided to bring home anyway, his stash of pills, some 5×7 notecards, and a pen. He proceeded to wash down the pills, a few at a time, with the gin. As he did so, he took notes.

The first card was written in his normal handwriting and it looked like any other note might have looked on any other day. But on each subsequent card, his handwriting and coherence were deteriorating.  There were 9 or 10 cards in total and reading them in sequence made what he was experiencing visceral. It brought us into the room with him, helplessly watching him succumb.

(What follows is a brief and paraphrased version of what I can remember.)


10:45 pm

I am sorry, Mom and Dad. I am not doing this to

hurt you. I am not angry. I am of sound mind.

I want to do this.


10:55 pm

I’m not afraid. I’m calm, almost happy.

I have been waiting so long.


11: 05  p

I’m sorry for the pain this is causing. It’s not about you.

I can’t do it anymore. I’ve been planning this for a long time.

Ineed to do it.


11 : 2 0

I, am ligtheaded, fuzzy. Not drunk

still good. still wanting to


11:3A few more pills. Some gin

                   left. It ‘ s ok


11%p —  euphoric.

  I t hink it’s wo rking but I gonna

       drink one more glass

s not  drunk.  just  good.


15&%Im feelig foggy – dizzy

           its getting stronger.

finished the gin. too late to stop but i

                                                        dont want to


       imready

             please donbe sad   fo

      I h ve wanted iy    notangry  just

nothing you di            mum

                                dad


1111            sory    I

                       LO

                               Ve

            Y

                   o

                                      u

                                          —

                                            –

                                               –

September 27, 1959, 10:39 PM

A welcome would have been expected. A welcome might have been expected. You would think. One would think. One might think. If one thought about it. Might have made a difference. One might have thought. So.

There was an expectation. Certainly, there was an expectation. There might have been an expectation. There would have been an expectation. Must have been. One.

Nonetheless the event happened. It is known to have happened. It must have happened. Clearly, it happened. It could not have not happened. It conclusively happened. Of that there is no doubt. That it happened. As opposed to not. Happened.

The date is not in question. There has never been a question of the date. The date has never been contested. Nor would it be. Nor should it be. Nor has it been. The date is certain. Known.

The time is not certain. The exact time is not known with certainty. The time is different from the date in that it was not as unique. The time was not as clearly recognizable as the date. The time is probable. The time is possible. Assumed.

Exactly what happened is not known. The details of the event are unknowable. There has never been an inquiry into the particulars of the event. The precise actions or inactions are not known. The actions are unknown. The inactions are unknown. Unknowable.

What happened is known. The birth is known to have happened. What else happened is not known. The ancillary events are not known. The birth obviously happened. The details of the birth are not known. The events preceding the birth are not known. The events following the birth are not known. The ancillary events before and after the birth are unknown. Unknowable.

The number of participants in the event is not known. The total number of participants is not known. There must have been two. There would have been two. Two is the minimum number of participants possible. There might have been more. There should have been more. Could have been more participants. There might have been more. People.

The mother was there. The mother was a key participant. The mother had to have been there. Of that, there can be no doubt. The mother was required to have been there. The mother could not have not been there. The mother had to have been. There.

The doctor was there. A doctor was there. There was certainly a doctor there. There would have been a doctor there. The doctor must have participated. The doctor had to have participated. It is certain the doctor participated. A doctor must have been there. Working.

The father may have been there. It is probable that the father was there. The father may have been a participant. The father is a probable participant. The father is thought to have been a participant. The father is surmised to have been there. Present.

Others were there. Other people were there. There must have been other people there. There would have been other people there. The other people may have participated. The others may have been participants. It is probable that others were there. Participating.

A welcome would have been expected. A welcome might have been expected. You would think. One would think. One might think. If one thought about it. Might have made a difference. One might have thought. Welcome.

The day I was born. The day of my birth. My birth day. Birthday.

My Echo, My Shadow, and Me

I am a sixty-one-year-old white male of English and Irish descent. I have a genetic disposition for acne, baldness and depression. I am taller than average and slender. Clothing rarely fits me well. I was lied to as a child and things were done to me that should never be done to another human being. I kept that a secret for most of my life. I am great at solving puzzles and I can readily spot patterns in the world around me. I have recurring nightmares and lucid dreams. I have a keen intuition and I don’t like being hugged. Children tend to like me. I am devoted to my wife. I’m not a good long-distance friend. I am often sad and quick to cry. I find comfort in that.

Running A Way

1976.

I run into Mark in the Cap’n Kidd.

I believe I have to die, I say to Mark. We’re drinking Bud long necks at the bar.

We all have to die, Mark answers.

Of course but that’s not what I mean.

What do you mean?

It feels like I have to die in order to live. I say this to you and I’m not sure what it means. But everywhere I look I see my death.

Yet here you stand.

Only because I’m afraid to face it.

Aren’t you facing it now?

No. I always run away just before it happens.

Maybe it’s just your ego.

What? I take a swig.

That has to die.

What?

Mark puts his empty bottle down on the bar. Ego death. Maybe that’s what you’re facing — the dissolution of your ego identity.

I don’t know what that means.

Maybe it’s the way out.

Out of what?

Whatever it is you’re asking me about.

Mark signals with two fingers to the bartender.

You Couldn’t Have Known

Every time I imagine telling the story I start with you. It’s as obvious a place to start as it isn’t. You came into my life almost 30 years after it happened and only stayed a little while. I don’t remember your acquisition the duration of your time in my home nor your departure. Your physical attributes were and are irrelevant. You held no significant or symbolic meaning for me. Your purpose in my life was utilitarian.

If the full gravity of this one interaction with you—the one that I think of as the prologue to my story—had occurred to me as it was happening you might have met the fate of so many of the other objects in my life; destroyed flung across the room pounded against the wall leaving only pieces of you on the floor and another patched hole in the drywall. But it would take a couple of years for my brain to make the connection between that day so long ago your brief role in my story and my break— down? Through? Either word fits.

This is how it begins every time I replay it in my head; the flashing red light the beep. Then “hello this is your brother Max. Call me back as soon as you get this. And you’d better be sitting down.”

You couldn’t have known how awkward that would have sounded especially to anyone who didn’t know Max. You couldn’t have read between the lines but even if so you couldn’t have intervened. You couldn’t have edited his words to be less stilted less dramatic or less revealing to me. You couldn’t have known this was a message I had long been expecting. The only question in my mind was not what but who.

You couldn’t have known that anyone else might have assumed it was about Doug. You couldn’t have deduced that with all his years of accidents arrests and hospitalizations he was the most likely to have added another episode to our family’s litany of dramas. More than that you couldn’t have known by intuition by subconscious inference by a gut that you lack that it wasn’t Doug but Frankie — the brother with whom I shared a secret — who had killed himself. You couldn’t have known any of it. You were just a machine. You did what you were created to do. You did it well.