Not too many people have time for a big book anymore.
Especially one about a suicidal billionaire.
So I am going to give it to you fast.
My name is Mat Clarke.
My story begins and almost ends on a fluffy pink mat in a guest bathroom in the entryway of my palatial estate. A squirt of Rembrandt Extra-Whitening Toothpaste is gathered and gnarled as an uncomfortable stain near my feet. Dashes of glittery tooth crystals and the smell of mildewed monogrammed towelettes saddle my senses.
Everything is right. But everything is wrong.
I’m rich and well-fed. I’m married to a woman who can still wear her wedding shower lingerie without high-thigh, crinkly-wrinkly skin ruining the effect. I’m nicely positioned in highest employment beyond the cubicled masses in a top floor Feng Shui office, complete with miniature bubbling brooks, dimming switches for the lights, a small refrigerator full of ginseng-laced waters and cabinets containing health biscuits with modern art works etched into their sides.
I am equipped with every lightweight and durable technological device known to man. I have a well-diversified portfolio with more money in banks than several combined small country GNP’s. I have a handicap of 1 to 4 depending on size of trees, depth of bunkers, and number of water hazards, a dog that never barks, a car that always starts, a glow-in-the-dark Universal Remote Control that never gets lost, an air purifier that destroys all dust before it can float into my airspace, memberships to every club, bestselling books, and magazine covers with my name and face on them.
Tony Robbins attends my seminars.
Bill Gates cleans my 2010 Windows.
Donald Trump is my apprentice.
I just might be the man.
I own 65 percent of the American dream.
I am at the top of the rope.
I am the king of the atmosphere.
But I am ready to die.
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace;
In fine we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
– Edwin Arlington Robinson –
Do you remember that poem about Richard Cory?
He is my hero at the moment.
He was a world winner like me.
A success who was envied all around.
Then one day, out of nowhere, he went home and defaulted the match he was winning. He did the unthinkable. He took himself out. He threw in the towel even with his competitor unconscious and bleeding on the mat.
He ripped the rug out from everyone.
He went to his house and to his room, and with one squeeze of a forefinger made a hot piece of metal travel too fast for his head to block.
And with his one last breath, Richard Cory left his last thought on the wall for everyone out there on the street to read:
“YOU DID NOT KNOW ME—NOT EVEN I DID”
Years ago, a girl at my university had Mr. Cory’s poem in her pocket the day she died.
I will never forget her – she was the crimson freckled type with liquid paper skin and connect-the-red-dots from head to toe. A most amazing and striking creature, I thought. I can still see her there, standing in the middle of the student center. Flow skirt and a peachy shirt with a whale in the top corner. Thin arms. Not Karen Carpenter shrinkers, but nice little rollouts with holdable hands at the bottoms. And she had good knees and proper calves. I memorized this eye frolic and pasted her firmly onto my pituitary for a later night remembrance rendezvous. And I figured I would approach her at some point when she stopped doing what she was doing.
Unfortunately, the end of what she was doing was the end of the end.
How did she fall into my view?
She had xeroxed her suicide note and was handing out the copies on warm, hopeful spring days to everyone who came by.
Dear Frat Boys and Sorority Sisters and all you other 24,498 registered undergrad strangers, now read this:
“Take a flyer.”
“I am an activist for my own cause.”
The words were right there, but hardly anyone read them. In fact, I was probably the only one who gave it more than a glance. Everyone else did what everyone always does with lime-green campus handouts passed out by unknown humans. They took them as a courtesy, wadded them up quickly and placed them in an appropriate trash receptacle moments away from her.
She saw what they were doing but kept up her attempts for eight hours. Then at about 5:00 p.m., she asked some guy to hold the stack of remaining suicide warnings. She took four steps aside like she was about to sneeze and then nonchalantly removed a small pistol from her purse and quickly proceeded to blow the freckles right off her head. Next to the nearest trashcan, which held hundreds of her crumpled cries for help, whatever she had just been thinking rushed out, splashed down, bubbled up, and stained the concrete.
It was a furious moment, and I despised her for it. It floored me at the time. I had not expected it. I had read her note and figured it to either be a joke, a sorority dare, or some morbid social experiment.
I had watched her from about thirty feet away for three hours to see which one it would end up being.
And also to find out what she was all about.
And, yes, wondering how I could get her to go out with me.
She was my type.
I have always been drawn to ghostly frowning women with strange pigmentations.
I had thought we could meet and then hang out.
We could share our discontent over dinner.
I’d slip her some of my anti-depressant.
Crush it up in her salad next to the croutons.
Make life worth living for a few minutes at least.
Escape the mad cow disease memories.
We could go to my dorm and pretend to be in a 1960s love bungalow.
But it never happened.
She pulled the rug out from under me.
I am going to end my life today
I am lost
I am in the dark
I am alone
I need someone to help me locate myself
This is my cry for help
It is as loud as I get
Notice me now or you will notice me soon enough.
A full day of begging on paper and then BANG — there she lay.
I still own a copy of her flyer.
I laminated it.
I keep it as a bookmark for my Hemingway novels.
That Taylor ruined my weekend plans.
“So damn selfish.”
That’s what I had first thought.
But now I am thankful.
I love her even more for her brash early departure.
She is added inspiration for my afternoon’s plan.
This afternoon, I read Taylor, and I read Cory.
Right Hand and Left Hand.
I am quiet, ready, and noteless.
All is in order.
I sent my wife, Brianna, out for an all-day, 100% pure organic spa treatment, and I sent the housekeeping staff home early with a large tip. (I know it will be a tough clean-up as they scrub away my dried blood and veinage from the expensive marble. I do hope to keep most of my spill on this pink mat, but I am not sure how far I will spew once the lacerations are complete.)
I am sitting here criss-cross applesauce and cramping on the floor with a creative method in mind for my unhappy ending. I have a stomach full of chicken noodles, hot broth, and six children’s aspirin to slow everything down a bit. In my right hand I have the jagged edge of a soup can lid, which I am going to use to chop, slice and rip through wrists and tendons.
A soup can lid.
Have you ever really looked at a soup can lid right after it comes off of the can opener?
It is a menacing monster.
When it hits my skin, it is going to be painful – worse than a paper cut for sure.
I actually know this for a fact.
I once stepped on a soup can lid during a game of hide and seek. I jumped barefoot into a neighbor’s trash bin and landed hard on the lid’s buckteeth. It nearly cut the front part of my foot off. I let out a yelp like a soccer- shoe spanked dog. It’s something I never forgot. I stored that astronomical pain memory away for future reference and for a rainy day like this one.
A soup can lid – it will be the perfect weapon to take me out of this world. More creative than a razor blade and more painful than pills or a pistol.
And that’s what I want: I want creativity, and I want pain.
I’m not sure why exactly. I have never been known as a creative type, and I hate pain more than I hate Golden Girls re-runs.
I guess I am trying to complete in death what I could not handle in life.
Not to mention that publicly my favorite artist is Warhol.
This will be my way of paying tribute: eating Campbell’s soup as a final meal and then using its famous container edges to rip open my palette skin – dripping arterial paint onto my bathroom’s canvas. That’s a masterpiece Andy would applaud, even though Andy is dead and cannot applaud, and even though really, I privately think Andy Warhol is a complete hack.
Anyway, I have been considering this entire death scenario for months, and I have had grand ideas about what it will all be like. Visions and Pictures and Fantasies.
The Fantasy I held in my head of the imminent “death moment” up until yesterday was blood and soup and white tooth crystals and mildewed towelette smells and me pressuring the wound calmly. Just smiling and admiring the final bloody waterfall cascading from within me. The emptying of my heart. Simply watching with great interest the slideshow of all my days passing before me as if they were highlights from ESPN plays of the week. Pleased that life was finally coming to a controlled end.
But, as I sit here and the light from my designer light bulbs bounces off the metal soup lid, I am getting a different picture. A more realistic picture. Not Visions and Pictures and Fantasies, but Reality. The Reality of my “death moment” will almost surely be blood and soup and white tooth crystals and mildewed towelette smells and my screaming at full vocal cord wattage about the severity of the pain and flipping around with fear as my small, forgettable lifeboat tips too quickly into whatever fiery hell might await. My possibly looking through my cabinets for the extra large bandaids or at least some duct tape. Possibly dialing 911 and yelling at them to hurry over.
“I’ve had a soup can accident.”
Probably lying there kicking the wall and the toilet. Finally feeling and even thinking: Wait, i have one more thing…
“Wait, I have one more thing.”
Taylor Swift just shakes it off. But she is just a skinny young woman with boy problems and paparazzi worries. Plus she is in good shape and is thus able to shake whatever she wants. She might have 99 problems that need to be shaken, but an oil bust ain’t one.
An oil bust that is causing housing crises and infrastructural shake-ups in Midland and Odessa, as OPEC clamps down for the long haul.
For a long time, high quality short term furnished apartments were the placement of choice for the well-paid workforces who would come in as the oil flowed and then leave when the oil stopped being as valuable (market). These short term housing options were perfect in that they gave workers a real sense of home away from home, without the permanency of signing leases or even buying houses. But then the oil rigger workforce grew beyond what the Odessa and Midland corporate housing spots could hold. This led hopeful city and county governments in West Texas to start building apartments and houses for this new population who just might be there for a long, long time.
But booms are not to be trusted, because they are always partnered with a bust that comes faster than anyone planned leaving the hopeful builders with a fleeing population and empty apartments and homes.
Such is the case in early 2015 in Midland and Odessa.
And they cannot just shake it off –
As a Lubbock native who has long been hearing the tales of the “oil oceans” spreading out from Midland to Buddy Holly’s doorstep, I wonder how this will affect us. Beyond the disappointment of many who have bought up plenty of properties in the area with hopes to sell them at a significant markup to that moving workforce which is now moving away, there is a strong sense in my mind that there is a deeper quake to come – one that will influence our county leaders to make interesting decisions (read: dumb/short-sighted) in a future where oil will become famous again.
I’ll table this for now – but I can say that I am very glad I stuck with Lubbock short term housing instead of going all in with permanence…Oil always comes and goes – and so do I.
Feel Free to comment – What do you think about all of this? How much will oil economies be affected?