“suicide stories,” A MuseionFiction by N.Pendleton

            Two years of dating, six months of cohabitation, and twelve years of marriage later, he was waist-deep in a bloody mess of a divorce to a woman he most assuredly had grown to hate.  The woman had a good lawyer and a good job.  He had neither.
            During this time of increasing stress and diminishing returns, he wrote.  He wrote 36 short stories.  All of them were about suicide.  All were about men in desperate straits who chose to end their existence is 36 different ways under 36 different circumstances.  Most of the stories were of average length, but a cluster was fewer than 1000 words.  Two of the stories were essentially novellas.  There were exotic suicides mixed in with the more mundane, workaday methods.  Most were literary stories, but he didn’t shy away from genre; horror and sci-fi were well represented.  One particularly clever story dealt with a scientist who had accidentally turned the entire population of the city into brain-devouring zombies, and the only way the scientist could escape a horrible fate was to ingest the necrotic formula he’d created…and become a zombie himself.  He sent a handful of these stories to a handful of different magazines.
            He worked in the insurance industry, but hated every prolonged second of it.  He’d been called to be a writer early in his life.  He’d written probably three hundred stories all tallied, had sent them all out to publishers and editors, and not a single one had ever been printed or purchased.  It had become force of habit: ponder, type, print, mail, collect rejection letters from mailbox.  Yes, he’d been called to write, but the call to publish had failed to come through.
            Except this time, with the suicide stories, he sold every single one.  And not to obscure little journals for contributors copies either.  Some of these were really huge magazines that paid in quadruple digits.  Real money.  Others just paid so-so, but were very prestigious.  Playboy.  Atlantic Monthly.  Paris Review.  Harper’s Magazine.  Zoetrope: All-StoryMcSweeney’s Quarterly Concern.  Crazy venues like that; a scribbler’s dream.
He sent out another handful of suicide stories, and they sold just as quickly, and to venues just as big.  Within a year, he had a book deal.  Within two years, he’d published his first collection of short stories and was writing the first draft of a novel.
            The novel would never be completed.  During the revisions of the second draft, he developed a brain tumor that was killing him.  He didn’t care for treatment.  He waved off surgery, chemotherapy, and even that New Age herbal bullshit.  He let the tumor grow and consume his brain and continued to write as much as physically possible for as long has he could.  When the pain was too great and his thoughts were becoming too scrambled, he pushed away his MacBook, loaded his Makarov 9mm, and went out to the hiking trail behind his home.  It was his favorite place because the hummingbirds always congregated at the weigelia bushes there.  The only things he felt called to love on this earth other than writing were hummingbirds and flowering weigelias.
           Suicide had been good to him.

Copyright 2009 N.Pendleton.
All rights reserved.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by iamjacksfingers and Nick Pendleton, MuseionCast Podcast. MuseionCast Podcast said: “suicide stories,” A MuseionFiction by N.Pendleton:             Two years of dating, six months of .. http://bit.ly/7Gy4fS […]

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