hen Byron left her for the anorexic
waitress who worked in the Caffeine Connection he told Virginia she needed to get a hobby,
so she began collecting suicide notes. Not the actual notes, but reasonable facsimiles
that she copied into a small notebook. She copied down quotes from biographies, pulled
phrases from television and newspaper accounts, bought a tape of Jim Jones delivering his
final suicide speech as his followers drank Kool-aid, and she even owned a T-shirt with
Kurt Cobain's note silk-screened on the front.
I'm too much of
an erratic, moody baby!
I don't have the passion anymore, so remember,
it's better to burn out than to fade away.
Virginia realized that even in death Kurt had been derivative and failed to credit Neil
Young who actually wrote the final line of his note. Creative types kill themselves
when they cease to be creative. One psychiatrist hypothesized that homosexual men
kill themselves with guns because they want to be attacked by a penis. Kurt used a big
gun. Women rarely used guns, Virginia thought, perhaps because they had already been
attacked by a penis, and no woman would leave all that blood on the carpet for strangers
to clean up.
I am a nuisance
Virginia found it impossible to drink coffee. Byron had chosen the very open and public
Caffeine Connection to break up. He dumped her as the anorexic waitress dumped espresso
grounds. She could still smell the roasting beans. On her way home, alone, she purchased a
small notebook to collect her thoughts. Byron said she lacked spontaneity. She researched
everything. She made incessant lists. She wrote down the words Byron used to dump her and
then she tore out the page and wrote a suicide note.
I hate you!
The note was spontaneous and to the point, still it needed something. The New York
Times reported the story of a woman who laid down on the tracks of the commuter train
that carried her husband, but Byron walked to work. Jumping from a building into his path
would be spontaneous, but required too much planning. After all, she wouldn't want to fall
on him. Maybe she could wire herself with explosives, tape a note to the window of the
Caffeine Connection, and blow herself up in front of his waitress.
You will have to live with this until you die.
May you never, ever forget.
As Byron was steadily retrieving his possessions from the apartment, Virginia expanded her
collection to include quotes and facts about suicide. Men with tattoos are more likely
to use guns. Byron had a gun but no tattoo. Brown-eyed girls and boys like hanging
and poison. Byron had brown eyes. Beautiful brown eyes like a girl's eyes, with long
fluttering lashes. Then there were lies about suicide. Most suicides do not occur
during a full moon or around holidays; most are during the new moon and in spring.
There are exceptions, though, like the boy who hanged himself from the family Christmas
tree with the note pinned to his shirt like a gift card.
Arthur Miller wrote that suicide kills two people, that's what it's for. Though Virginia
didn't know when he wrote it, she assumed that he wrote it after Marilyn Monroe died.
Freud believed that women who poison themselves want to get pregnant. After Marilyn died,
the suicide rate jumped more than 10%. Suicide rates increase with famous victims as do
car and plane crashes. Some people try to hide suicide by getting into an accident.
That would be too easy and Byron wouldn't suffer enough. Perhaps she could go up in a
plane of skydivers and jump without a parachute. Surely someone would get it on film for
Byron to watch over and over.
Like cherry blossoms
In the spring
Let us fall
So pure and radiant
Virginia cried incessantly. To the point of being trite. She was drowning in her tears. Menninger
argued that drowning is an attempt to return to the womb. Virginia had no interest in
returning to the womb, but perhaps she could return home until Byron had cleared out all
of his stuff. On second thought, home was not a place she wanted to return either. Her
mother would ask question after question. Virginia would cry more. Menninger was a quack.
It was best to stay curled up in the apartment and gaze at the shrine of photographs of
Byron and Virginia when they were a happy couple.
I don't think two people could have been happier than
we have been
Virginia made notes in her suicide book. Thoughts and observations. She was brave and
cavalier the day Byron came to find a box of papers he needed for his taxes. A vindictive
woman would have burned his files. But Virginia still loved him and she couldn't bear to
envision him sitting through an audit. He was too bad with math to survive an audit. She
sat at the kitchen table, scribbling in her book and fighting back tears. Byron stuck his
head around the corner, "I found them." Then he left and Virginia cried. She
wrote in her book -- I am totally pathetic. Then she stopped her commentary. Suicide
kills two people. Why not cut out the middleman?
There are many things I should like to write you
but I feel it is useless
Ann picked up the black notebook and flipped through it. "Weird little book,"
she said. "Byron said I needed a hobby and I hate rollerblading." Ann felt the
book could sell but it needed illustrations. A skull torn away by a bullet, a floater, an
actual typed letter. Especially if...
You hate to think so,
but suicide helps sell books
Virginia had a horrific headache, due in large part to her recent withdrawal from
caffeine. Regardless of the bad association, she was going to brew a large pot of coffee
and drink it all. She put on her tape of Jim Jones. Something about his words urging the
flock to drink the Kool-aid, made it easier for her to swallow the dark, acrid fluid. When
the pot was empty, Virginia still had a headache and was unable to sleep. She drew a hot
bath and sat in the tub. There was speculation that Diane Arbus photographed her own
sucide, but there is no proof. Virginia didn't own a camera. The bath water was cold as
the first light of dawn came into the bathroom window. Virginia climbed into her bed to
I'm going to put myself to sleep now for a bit longer
Call the time Eternity
In the afternoon, Virginia crawled out of bed and went directly to the kitchen coffee
maker. She had overindulged the previous evening and there were hardly enough grounds for
the next pot. Virginia sprinkled what she had on the cold congealed grounds from the night
before and hoped for the best. She surveyed the kitchen as the coffee dripped. The
refrigerator held a head of brown, slimy lettuce and milk that was now cottage cheese.
There were containers of yogurt that could officially be classified as antibiotics. Small
white Chinese containers held the residue of the final meal she and Byron shared.
The Last Supper
Virginia cleaned out the refrigerator and finally washed the dishes and put them away. She
stripped the bed of the sheets that smelled like Byron and tossed them in the hamper. She
threw away the plastic razors that he shaved with. She searched the closets for telltale
items of clothing. In the back of the closet she found the small box with Byron's gun. She
took it out and pointed it at the pictures in the shrine. Virginia laid the gun on the
table as she drank coffee. She tore out a sheet of paper from her suicide notebook and
began making a list. It was a much more simple list than the one she had been keeping. She
wrote milk and cheese, chicken, lettuce and in the end she wrote coffee. She knew what
coffee she wanted. Not Folgers nor Maxwell House, she wanted Peruvian Delight and there
was only place to get it.
Someone had to do it.
Self-awareness is everything.
Virginia entered the Caffeine Connection with her hands stuffed deeply in her pockets. She
came up behind the anorexic waitress who hadn't noticed her. "Two pounds of Peruvian
Delight," Virginia said to the waitress whose smile melted when she saw Virginia.
Virginia tried to look pleasant. She didn't want to look like a psycho ex. "Grind it
fine," she said, "and watch your fingers, we wouldn't want you to get
hurt." Virginia felt her fingers on the gun. The waitress began to fidget, which at
this moment could not be attributed to her vocation. She spilled part of the fine grounds
and had to get another scoop of beans as the other employee rang up Virginia's purchase.
The waitress slid the two pound bags into a larger bag and handed it to her as Virginia
pulled Byron's gun from her pocket and pointed it at the new girlfriend. "Jesus
Christ," she screamed. Virginia held the gun for a few long seconds and then she laid
it on the counter. "I thought Byron might need this," she said as she took her
coffee grounds and turned toward the door.