[Trigger Warnings: suicide]
Bernard Baker took his own life at 24, and died at 81 years old. He never spoke of it, as this is rude to do in front of people, especially when most of them can’t even remember when they did it, so he kept it to himself. Sometimes, flimmers of pride were detected on his radar that, perhaps, he’d lasted longer than most, because they were dropping like flies in his teenages, swinging from the ceiling beams in tune to the closest radio.
At 24 he erased all his progress and put a gun to his head. He hesitated, because he’d done the exact same motions a million times before without holding a weapon, and every time he’d fired almost instantly, his body was used to the motions by now, it couldn’t tell when he was bluffing and when he wasn’t.
He aimed at his Jesus complex, obviously he hadn’t fixed everything by the time he was 24, and his 25th birthday was coming up. That was, he reckoned, more than a quarter of his life wasted, and he had barely influenced anyone. In the grand scheme of things. He aimed, cocked back,
At 19, he sat down next to her and they fell in love and he saved her life. It was like he hadn’t had a heart before and at 20, he called her a whore, once, because he couldn’t understand, and all was lost.
For a short period at 21 he found solace in the arms of another painter, name not important, he showed him a whole new world of colours before the train came and took him, and he said it like that, ambiguously, enough times to lose track of which of the options had actually happened, if any.
He aimed at his sexuality, obviously that didn’t do him or anyone else any good. That train was big and blue and red underneath, and it had swallowed him and then moved on. Baker was a man and he was tall and he was handsome and he was white, upper middle class, and if he could just shoot that sexuality away, he could be happy with a dead girl.
There wouldn’t be any false hope, his eyes would be too obscured by the brilliantly white mask to add adjectives to anything.
He could use the blood to graft the mask onto his face, he held it closer. He didn’t know what would happen when he’d pulled the trigger – he smelled something. It was laced with something like sugar, something that smelled sweet. His hand was cramping, pushing the trigger closer and closer to detonation, impossibly close like that paradox of halves.
He aimed at his sexuality, and he aimed at his art,
“It’s the good looking people, the classically well-dressed and conventionally attractive,” Baker had rambled, waving his hands and spilling his drink and smiling his frown, “that are the most lousy in bed. Believe you me, those are the ones that are most ugly. The ones you can’t have any pillow talk with, they just lay there and stare off into space like they’re telescopes, but less interesting,” but he was talking to a dead girl.
Bernard Baker aimed at his questions, his questioning, and shot a hole the size and shape of putrid acceptance in his brain. He fell forward onto the mask and the mask came alive and shot tendrils around his head in his mouth and through his nostrils. Bernard was never near a gun again in his whole life.
57 years later that mask was still grafted onto his face, with that smile and those eyes and now people were dropping down from their ceiling beams, their houses collapsing on top of them, becoming unmarked graves.
Another Bernard Baker of the world gave them names, those headstones, and painted them in all sorts of colours.