Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Sound of a Single Shot

it echoes and echoes and echoes...

Sometime in the dark of the late night or early morning of October 23rd or 24th, my little brother ended his life.  No one heard the single gunshot, or if they did, they didn't know what it meant.  Dismissed it as a car back fire maybe, or wrote it off as a warning to a bear.  Gunshots aren't uncommon in rural Alaska, sometimes if you hear a succession, you might wonder what the hell is going on, but people rarely call the police.
He lay in the grass by the edge of the canyon for twelve or fourteen hours before Olga found him.  I think of the stillness of the night, the dew settling, I can't remember if it frosted or not, not that it's really important.  I feel bad for her, finding him that way, it must have been terrible and shocking.  She knew him all his life, he played with her kids, she must have wondered, like all of us, how could I not have known? why didn't I see?
He shot himself in the head with a gun taken from an unlocked safe in a office.  There was a note, a passed-in-class note, in which he and an unidentified friend wrote.  One of the things he wrote was about shooting himself at the edge of the canyon and rolling down the steep slope, how peaceful it might be.  The friend never said anything, obviously thought he was just talking, wasn't serious.  So much guilt, so many unanswered questions.
There were signs, of course there were signs!, but no one was really paying attention, including me.  I spoke with him on the phone a couple of weeks before, and he didn't want to talk to me.  Had to be pestered to tell me he loved me, so unlike him.  I should have known then that there was something wrong, I just thought he was being a moody teenager.
Fifteen years ago, that's quite a while in human terms.  Time passes, life goes on, as they say.  And I hope he's a part of something larger now; the wind and the grass, the earth and the rain, the dark sky and the shimmering stars that were his only witnesses that lost, lonely night.


Lemon Gloria said...

I'm so sorry. I hope he's at peace.

madrulian said...

I am so sorry, J. What a very tragic and terrible loss.