Ok, so some of you missed me. Most of you didn't even notice I was gone. Anyway, to those of you who actually felt the unbearable weight of my absence, I owe an explanation.
At some point last year, I met an old friend. We were blockmates in college, and she's now working as a Marketing-something for a company that makes canned goods (mostly tuna; and NO, you don't get points for guessing correctly). She and some of her friends were drinking and generally in thrall of some debaucheries that were taking place in a Karaoke room in Trinoma. She went out for a while to get a sundae at the nearby McDonald's, bumped into me as I was about to go to Timezone (when deep in thought, I like to spend serious time with the shooters), and she, in her drunken state, dragged me to their room and made introductions.
One of her friends was a guy who kept laughing at my jokes. It was an IOI (Indicator of Interest), and I made a move sometime after they ordered another bucket of San Mig Light. I told him about my work (my LEGAL one), and that I do take "clients" on the side.
"What clients?" he asked.
"Lonely ones. Those who need to talk with someone who'll listen." I paused, letting the innuendo sink in. "I'm a psychologist, remember?"
"Oh." He was obviously taken back. "Do you mean... do you think... Are you saying I need one?"
"No. I'm not saying anything at all. Except that if you know someone who does need some companionship, feel free to refer me."
After that night, I received a message from that guy the next weekend.
"Are you free right now?" read his text message. "Can you come over my place? I'm alone."
I replied: "Send me the address."
He sent me his address. It's in Makati. I hate Makati. I hate the stupid traffic laws of Makati, the lack of decent parking spaces.
"Hurry," his next message said. "I think I'm losing blood too soon."
There's a moment in every suicide when the human brain's survival protocol kicks in, and as irrational as killing yourself, you suddenly feel an irrational urge to fight for survival. It's worse for people who jump off high buildings because when they do finally regret the act, there's just enough time for them feel sorry before they make a big splat. It's easiest for people who blow their brains (or hearts, as we recently heard) out; just close your eyes, pull the trigger, and see you on the other side.
When J (not real name) decided to kill himself slashing his wrist (not even WRISTS, as in plural) with the sharp edge of a tin can's top, it was the thought of having dinner alone in his apartment, alone, that made him do it. There he was, a can of corned beef in hand, microwaved rice on the table. He was holding the tin can's top part, that circular disk that comes off when you use a can opener when he started wondering what ifs. What if he take that tin disk against his wrist and just slash?
Before he could think about it clearly, he did. With one quick swoop, -WHOOOSH-, he sliced open his wrist. He dropped the razor sharp tin lid (which rolled under the table where I would later find it), grabbed his open vein, and tried to stop the bleeding as much as he could by applying pressure. When he started feeling woozy, he decided to lie down on the floor, and send me that message.
Why me? Why not someone he trusted? I guess (this is purely hypothetical based on our subsequent conversations after this episode) he wanted someone he couldn't trust. He couldn't call anyone in his circle of trust because they would judge him, they would pity him, they would definitely change their opinions of him. He wanted someone else, a complete stranger who owed him nothing.
Funny thing about blood: it clots. You have to know how to slash your wrist properly to kill yourself that way. You need to: (a) cut along the veins/arteries and not across it -- this makes the wound gape bigger, (b) submerge yourself in a bath tub with hot water -- to keep the blood from clotting, and to displace the sensation from the wound to the tingling warmth of the bathwater all over your skin, and (c) preferably in an upright or sitting position for better drainage of blood from the head.
Despite that, when I did get to his apartment, his wound was pretty serious. He had cut deep and cleanly, and though the clotting blocked most of the flow, he was still trickling with red matter. He had almost lost consciousness, and he was pallid. Without panicking, I ran back to the lobby and asked the guard to call an ambulance (I had no idea where to call one in Makati).
At the hospital, we made some story up. They all knew it was a lie, but what could they do? They tried to prescribe psychiatric counseling on him, but we insisted against it. Legally, they couldn't do anything more because I stood as a collaborating witness that it was an accident. They were backed into a corner by the sheer consistency of our lies.
As soon as he recovered consciousness, and he was lucid enough to talk. He asked me one thing.
To listen to his story.
And I did.
For several weeks, we would talk. It was the most refreshing task I had at that time. We made no arrangements as to how much he'll be paying for my counsel, but he would take care of all the expenses whenever we would meet.
Don't get me wrong. We weren't dating. We weren't even friends. It was oddly something between professional client-shrink relationship and friends. He told me his story, I listened, I took notes.
At some point earlier this year, I showed him the notes I have of our conversations.
"Parang nobela," he said.
Which gave me the idea.
For the past weeks, I have been reviewing my notes. I've been constructing outlines, scenes. Soon, the project began taking shape by itself. I asked his permission, and he said yes, I could use his story to write my own book. I was elated.
So, loyal blog readers. That's what I've been busy with. The first ever novel written by "Boy Du Jour". It won't be about my story though, but his.
What do you think?