Thursday, June 23, 2011
The Worst Day of His Life
The day started as normally as any other day. Kevin woke up at 4:00 Friday morning to prepare for a full day’s work. He dragged around the small bungalow that he and his seventeen year old wife shared. He was only eighteen himself and had been married only six months.
Being married at such a young age was not unusual in either of their families. That was just the way that it was done in their culture. Anyway, they had both lived fast lives. That, too, was the norm in their culture. This culture was one in which, when speaking of one’s husband or wife, one refers to the other as, “My old man “ or “My old lady”, respectively without any of the parties feeling an insult. A bad explanation is one that is followed by the phrase, “That dog won’t hunt”, because everybody in those parts hunt and knows that any dog that won’t hunt is utterly worthless. It is a culture with big families, young marriages and people who live fast lives.
Kevin was always dragging on Friday mornings: the effect of hard, physical labor for a full week in the logging woods of Alabama. Logging didn’t require a lot of education or skill, but there weren’t many jobs waiting for an eighteen year old.
After he dressed in his camouflage pants and t-shirt, he drifted into the kitchen, started up the coffee pot,scrambled four eggs and made toast. While the toast was finishing up, he made his sack lunch. After eating breakfast, he rolled his last joint. He would be able to buy a new bag this afternoon after getting paid. He went into the bedroom, kissed his young bride, and then walked outside onto the front porch where he was immediately inundated with the smell of the cool, night air. He loved the smell of the pine trees in the air during the early morning hours. Never having lived anywhere else, Kevin didn’t realize that it was the pine that provided the familiar scent. It had never occurred to him that this smell wasn’t common everywhere. Pine and pot were his favorite scents.
As he got into his car, he looked up and admired the full moon and stars. He had grown accustomed to driving to work before dawn, and never encountered much traffic. He put in the CD from Lynyrd Skynyrd and listened to Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird. When he arrived at work, several of his friends were already waiting for him. Soon, they would load up into the work trucks that would carry them on top of the red dirt roads out to the worksite in the deep piney woods. During the ride, they would observe the beautiful sunrise through the haze of cigarette smoke. Then, the peaceful atmosphere of the morning would be broken as the heavy logging equipment was started.
After a full day's work, he went to cash his paycheck. He would stop by Skip’s house to get a full bag of pot and then meet his buddies for an after work buzz. Where they went to go drinking, nobody knows for sure; except them, of course.
The sun was high up in the sky when Kevin went home to his beautiful wife. Her name was Dawn. She was thin and blonde, with an easy smile and a good disposition. Coming home drunk didn't bode well for his marriage. He and his young bride soon broke into an argument. That was not unusual. Young love tended to lean in that direction. She was most likely mad that he came home drunk. And booze was probably not all that he had been doing. Not only had he come home drunk, but she had been stuck at the house alone all day because between the two of them, they owned only one car. This also is not unusual for a young married couple just starting out.
She couldn’t ride into town with a neighbor because they lived in a little bungalow in the county. The nearest house was at least a mile away. But the bad is accompanied by the good. They had plenty of privacy out in the country, the deer were plentiful and there were no neighbors to hear their frequent arguments.
The argument continued to the edge of violence when Kevin threatened to shoot Dawn with a rifle. She wasted no time leaving the house for her own safety. On her way out the door, with tears running down her face, Dawn informed Kevin that she was ready for a divorce. As she ran to their only car, she noticed that the sun was slowly being covered by puffy, white clouds, forming shadows on the green grass.
Then, she took their only car, and went home to her parent's house. She poured out her story to her parents, explaining to them that she was through with him for good.
Now, Kevin was home alone, drunk, upset, and soon to be divorced. He had nowhere to go and no way to get there. For the first time in his eighteen years, he had found happiness when he had gotten married and now it was over. She had been the only stability that he had had in a long time. He liked being married, having a home of his own. This was the worst thing that had ever happened to him in his eighteen year life. His buddies were nowhere to be found as he plummeted into darkness. The appealing quality of the bungalow now had a sinister effect. No longer was it a haven for new lovers, but now had become a symbol of isolation and loneliness that he could not endure. He had felt this loneliness most of his life. It had begun as a gnawing fear when he was small, overhearing the bitter arguing of his parents, and had become a permanent fixture in his life as soon as they had gotten divorced when he was eight years old.
Angry, confused, crying, disappointed and heartbroken, Kevin drifted into the worst, darkness of his life. Was this all that life had to offer? This kind of heartache, one time after another, and another and another? He felt like such a failure. He picked his rifle back up. He would show her. He would show them all.
He called her parents house, hoping that she would answer the phone. She had to be there. Where else would she go? She was there all right. But her mom wouldn't notify her that she had a phone call. She told him that he needed to leave Dawn alone. Kevin responded by placing his rifle into his mouth and telling Dawn's mother that he planned to kill himself. He said that he had just called to tell his wife goodbye.
Dawn's mother Nancy could hear that something was in his mouth. She knew it because it was affecting his speech. She also knew that he was drunk and probably high too.She knew that there was no telling what kind of drugs were in his system, because that was the norm for their culture too. When Kevin told Nancy that he had a rifle in his mouth, Nancy knew that he was telling the truth. This was a dangerous situation that would require calm, firm guidance. She knew that this was most likely the same gun that had been pulled on her daughter. She was concerned, but first and foremost for Dawn.
Nancy told Kevin that he needed to call his own mother and tell her what he was going to do. His mother was the one that he needed right now. She told him to hang up and call her.
Man, that wasn't the response that he expected. He expected to get to talk to Dawn--to tell her that he was going to kill himself. He wanted her to tell him not to because she loved him. This is what he wanted and expected to hear, just like in the movies. He definitely didn't expect to be told to hang up and call his mother.
Like a robot, he followed Nancy's advice. He was broken and could not think clearly for himself. Hopefully, when he called his mom, they would talk it out, and things would end peacefully. He called and got the answering machine. The answering machine?!!! With the gun in his mouth, Kevin told the answering machine that he was about to kill himself and just called to say goodbye to his mama. Then he hung up.
His wife had left him in the only vehicle that they owned, his mother-in-law didn't want to listen when he called to tell her that he wanted to kill himself, his wife wouldn't come to the phone and his mother was unavailable for him to tell that he was planning to die. This day had turned into a living nightmare. He felt like the most unloved person on the face of the earth.
Life is fleeting, characterized by many ironies. One is that people can spend years working toward a single goal before it is achieved. But five minutes or even one second can undo years of work. Not only can one second change the entire future of a person, but this also affects the lives of others: groups, families, towns, nations and even the entire world. This can work for the negative or the positive.
Kevin called his dad. By this time, he was crying again. With the gun in his mouth, he told his father that he was about to kill himself, and he just wanted to call him to tell him goodbye. His father screamed, "Kevin, No!!!!
Boom! With a singular pull of the trigger, the worst day of Kevin's life was over forever…..