Written by Joe Janes
19 of 365
(Ari, a slight, nerdy looking fellow, is adjusting a noose over a pipe in the ceiling of his dorm room. He stands on a chair. He gets down off the chair and gives everything the once over. There is a goblet on a table. He picks it up, but before he sips, he closes his eyes and thinks for a moment. He then holds his nose and drinks about half of it. He almost chokes it back up but manages to keep it down. He gets back on the chair. He stands for a moment, going over everything in his head. He then takes a small plastic “carry out” bag out of his back pocket and puts it over his head. He then puts the noose on over top of that and appears to tighten the rope around his neck. The plastic bag begins to balloon in and out. Roger enters. He is taller and heavy set. He puts his backpack down and takes off his jacket. He notices Ari, but makes no big deal about it. The ballooning is becoming slower. Roger goes over to a small dorm refrigerator and takes out a beer. He sits at his desk. The bag has stopped ballooning. Roger turns on the computer at his desk and we hear the Mac start-up orchestration. Ari, startled, jumps a bit and claws an opening in the bag for his face to come out.)
ROGER (at computer)Hi, Ari.
ARII didn’t expect you home. Don’t you have Calculus?
ROGERCancelled. The teacher went to Ireland or something at the last minute. We think he got somebody pregnant.
ARIReally? Professor Bowen? The guy with the turkey neck?
ARIWho did he get pregnant?
ROGERWe don’t know. We were just speculating. What have you been up to?
ARII was just killing myself.
ROGERYou were? I thought you were doing something else.
ARIDoing what else?
ROGERYou know, that thing. Autoerotic asphyxiation.
ARIEw. No. That’s gross. I’m just killing myself.
ROGERHey, I’m not here to judge. Why the bag?
ARIOh, this is brilliant. You'll appreciate this. The bag was to get me to a point of passing out so I fall off the chair and hang myself. It also speeds up the poison I ingested so I feel less pain.
ROGERIs it working?
ARII do feel all tingly.
ROGERWell, don’t let me interrupt you, dorm buddy. You do what you need to do. I’ll do what I need to do.
ARIWhat do you need to do?
ROGERI need to look at this computer screen. I’ve been looking at people all day and I need a break.
ARIYeah. People suck. That’s why I’m killing myself.
ROGER (commiserating)Tell me about it.
ARIThere’s this girl in my astronomy class. Erika. With a “k.”
ROGERIt’s sexier that way.
ARIEverything about Erika is sexier. At the planetarium, when everyone, including Erika, was looking up, all I could do was stare at her mandible.
ROGERWhat part is that?
ARIIt’s her jaw. Specifically, I was looking at where her jaw hinges to her neck.
ROGERIs that dirty?
ARII felt dirty. Especially when I followed her neckline all the way down-
ROGERTo her boobs?
ARIHer clavicle. The cradle to my soul. I see her and it hurts too much to be me inside.
ROGERHave you asked her out?
ARI (hopeful)Do you honestly think a man like me has a chance with a woman like Erika?
ROGERNo. I’m just doing that thing people are supposed to do when they hear people say stuff like that.
ARI (crushed)That’s what people do. They give other people hope instead of telling them the truth. That’s why I hate them. It’s just a set up for more hurt. Bigger hurt. All in the name of trying to be nice. It’s not nice at all.
(Roger has finished his beer and now sips from the goblet.)
ROGERThat’s pretty good. Did you put that in your note?
ARIMy note? Oh, for the love of Pete! I forgot the note. I remembered the rope, the plastic bag and the poison, but I forgot the note. Oh, what a fool am I! I really don't deserve to live. Roger! Roger! You must write my note for me. Hurry. Before it’s too late.
ROGER (grabs some Post-Its)Yeah, yeah, go ahead. Go ahead.
ARINot on a Post-It note! I’m dying here, not going to the 7/11 for cigarettes.
ROGERSheesh, Ari, I’m just trying to help. You don’t even like my handwriting.
ARIHandwriting would indicate it looked like a human wrote it. You have clawwriting.
ROGERI’ll print in big letters and, here, I’ll use this.
ARIWhat is it?
ROGERIt’s paper, see?
ARIWhat’s on the other side?
ROGERIt’s a “to go” menu from Pickles ‘n’ Pizza, but it’s only printed on one side. You want to do this or not?
ARIFine. Fine…. Okay…Okay…Don’t start yet.
ROGERI didn’t start.
ARII saw you writing.
ROGERJust the date. Now, go.
ARIDon’t rush me. It’s my funeral. The funeral! I planned nothing. Damn it all to hell! Okay… Here we go… To Whom It May Concern… I, Aristotle Sugar Lomarr, have most nobly chosen to leave this ever-maddening ball of wet clay. And I do so with dignity, with my head held high. Where other unhappy souls may choose life and soldier on through the drudgery of mortality, I have chosen to make a graceful exit to take my place amongst the dust and the wind. I excuse myself as I would do at any party at which I felt uncomfortable, which is all of them. I quietly take my leave. Adieu…. Post Script - Please bury me in the quad… near the rock where Erika sits and… reads from her hardcover editions of… Jane Austin novels. …Tell mother… and father… I tried.
(During Ari’s monologue, Ari becomes weaker and slower, and completely stops at the end. Roger looks at the note and finishes off the contents of the goblet.)
ARI (continuing weakly)Oh, and Roger…
ARIDon’t drink out of that goblet. It’s hemlock. (He dies. Roger starts trying to throw up in a basket. Lights fade as we hear the music intro to the TV news…)
ANCHOR (VO)Tragedy at Drexel University today. Two students, a philosophy major and mathematics major, roommates at Kelly Hall dorm, have taken their lives in what appears to be a homosexual murder-suicide love pact in a ritual involving autoerotic asphyxiation. Officers said they found a possible suicide note that reads “Fine. Fine. Okay. Okay. Don’t start yet.” But then becomes indecipherable due to extremely poor penmanship.