It Happened in Iowa: Part II

Opening Commentary

Upon it’s origin the following 59 word letter was not intended to be shared as a work of art. Regardless, it serves as a window into my previous state of mind. I highly suggest you read the prior installment before submersing yourself in the following.

The 59 Word Letter

(The following was written halfway through my only semester at Iowa State University.)

To my family and friends,

I am a failure. Someone better than [I] would have finished their book before doing this, but I just can’t do this any longer. I’m sorry for the trauma this may cause. Mom I love you and I am so sorry, but I had to do this. I love you all.

Good bye,

Kyle Phillips

Closing Commentary

I can’t believe I had a typo in my suicide note.


On second thought...


I can believe it.

It would be surprising if I didn’t.

I remember writing that note. It didn’t turn out how I pictured a suicide note to look. I always imagined them as long in depth explanations of personal torment; with maybe some poetic apologies tossed in for good measure. Yet, when it came down to it. I was fucking tired. Tired of life. I lacked the energy and enthusiasm for such an effort, but I felt it necessary to leave behind some sort of… just... something. I owed an explanation. Not to friends and family at large, but to my mother. I think, in some distant hidey hole of the mind, I continue to picture my mother as the only perfect person. Hence, even when consumed by rampant self disdain, I still owed my mother an apology.

The other portion of the note may as well have been directed at the ether. It addressed no one and was written for no one. It is simply a statement declaring the deepest regret of my heart: I was no author. Rather, I was myself, and being me, was a failure of a tragic nature. I was damned to be me, and I hated it. Hated it with such passion that being nothing was preferable for he who is not can no longer fail. This enticed me for it was failure I feared most. My logical nature concluded that life without failure is an impossibility. To live was too fail. I assure you I did not want to die. I did not consider death a success, but a horror. A horror which would result in escape from life's failures.

There was no event which sent me over the edge that day. The simple fact is, I was tired. Tired of fighting. Consequently, I my fear of death from was superseded by my fear of life. I sat down and typed the 59 word letter [see above]. I shoved said letter and an ethernet cable into my canvas rucksack. I should the heavy sac, chugged lemon rum straight from the jug, and headed off towards the bridge nearest my apartment.

42°02'02.6"N 93°38'57.0"W

The bridge was under construction. In hindsight, this shouldn’t have stopped me, but in my mind the caution tape was an impassable barrier. I about-faced and tread towards the portion of campus I affectionately dubbed the semi-truck graveyard. An appropriate place for a hanging. I discovered the graveyard of seemingly abandoned big rigs on one of my numerous drunken moonlight strolls. In addition, to the out of service trucks the graveyard was home to multiple sets of roughly 7 foot high scaffolding. Moreover, the parking lot was surrounded by a thick mingling of trees.

As I entered the graveyard I passed by a stranger dancing alone in the woods. I asked if he had any weed, mushrooms. He lied and said, “Nah, I just like to cut loose. You know?” I continued across a patch of grass, to an out of the way semi and climbed up the accompanying scaffolding. I rigged a makeshift noose with the cord, slipped it over my head, and…

I bounced as the cord cinched round my throat.

The thing about self inflicted hanging is that you kick and swing like an off balance pendulum. You don’t regret a damn thing, but your body doesn't give a damn what your mind does and does not regret. Your arms alternate between mindless flailing, and hopeless grasping at your throat. Your legs swing and kick like their pedaling an invisible bicycle. You spin as you dangle. You bounce against the wood and the metal edge of the scaffolding. You swing away. Legs still kicking. You try to inhale and can not. It's working. You panic at this sign of success. You swing back to scaffolding still kicking.

Your kicking foot becomes wedged in the V of a metal X. You stop swinging. You’re stuck. You involuntarily think of the future, so you flex your leg and pull yourself back to the scaffolding. You reach your arm behind you until your fingertips brush against cold metal. You grab hold, pull yourself up and unwrap the grey cable from your neck. You inhale the first breath of life's lasts failure.

I laid there against the wood unsure of what to do next. I rested my cheek against the rough wooden floor. I looked ahead and saw the silhouette of a clueless bastard dancing at the edge of the woods.

I didn’t feel anger.

I rose to my knees. Then stood. I went home. I didn’t know what I wanted. I felt no regret during the hanging. Yet, I stopped it. Once home, I  became drunk on the remaining rum. I fumbled for a small dark blue Tommy Hilfiger box. I ripped it open and let the watch fall to the floor. It was the packaging pillow I cared about. I turned the first sized pillow inside out, forcing patches of cotton and a ziplock of beige pills to spill out. I palmed three pills into my mouth and crushed them beneath my teeth. The bitter flavor coated my tongue. I stumbled back into the night, and slumped down at the base of my favorite pine. I sparked up a hand rolled cigarette of hops, mullen and tobacco.

The pills hit me. I smoked until the need to go and do was to great. I used my thumb to tug down my pants and expose an inch of flesh just below the waistline. I snuffed out the ember there. It, like the previous burns, would blister. Then peel, and puss, and scab, and tear, and bleed, and peel, and tear, and bleed, and scab again; in time giving way to another scar.

I flicked the remaining butt to the ground. I rode that Ritalin buzz for a week. Least I think I did. I’ll never be exactly sure. Repeated sleepless nights do that to you. You lose track of time all together. Days loose their meaning. Headaches come and go. The level of high, from time to time, falters, so you chew, swallow or snort your substance. An unknown amount of time goes by. You begin to hear what is not there, but is beyond a doubt coming from out there. These faint wordless whispers and father distantly shouting. You hear your name spoken void of emotion. In time such things fade to the edge of perception, but as you become accustomed to hallucinations of the auditory variety the visual ones begin to creep in. They are unlike all like the things you’ve seen on psychedelics. These are subtle disconcerting shadows dancing in the corner of your visual field. The text on pages warps and wobbles. The words, stabilize just at the edge of perception.

Then a hellish hate befalls you. Your stash runs empty.

The pills have all been taken. The alcohol has been drank. The bottles are empty, and nothing is left to crush, snort, chew, or swallow. Your head throbs and ears ring. You remember hunger, but find yourself too nauseous to eat. You recall thirst and force water down your sore throat. Your lips are so chapped a smile would cause them to bleed. Thankfully, you have no need to wear a grin. In the midst of the mind warping comedown you smoke your last cigarette. It’s a real one as opposed to the shitty hand rolled twigs you sometimes consume, but there is no advanced joy in the smoke for it is cracked in the middle. You hold it like the piece of shit you are.

When I came down, I managed to scrape together enough cash to buy a fresh pack of smokes. Then I went to the only place that came to mind, the church. I called the pastor, who had become a friend. I drove there half slumped over the steering wheel, and when I parked, I parked like a dick. I took up two, maybe three spots. I opened the door with my full body pressed against it. It swung out and I collapsed onto the asphalt. What now? The question rang through my mind. I crawled to the shade of a large oak tree, and I laid there. I was utterly incapable of understanding myself. No part of me was able to make sense of the situation, so I chain smoked. I chain smoked and began to cry.  I laid in the grass with my head among the gnarled roots of the oak. Warm tears slipped from the corner of my eyes, to the tips of my ears, and down to the dirt beneath me.

When the pastor arrived, I told him what I had done. I told him all I have told you. I shouted in the house of worship. I unleashed my pain with such volume it hurt throat. “This is what I’m talking about when I say god’s not there!” Snot, sweat, tears, and thick dehydrated mutt like strands of drool dripped down my  unkempt beard onto my crusted yellow sweat stained tee. A shirt I had worn through the whole god-fucking-damned thing. It was only now that I realized my filth and stench. I stank like booze and public urinals. I stood in stark contrast to the beauty of the sanctuary in a way only one raised in the presence of god can. Then, with the passion of crippled soul, displaced mind, and hollow being I declared:

“He’s not fucking there!”

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with suicidal thoughts please ask for help. There are numerous organizations designed to help people like us. One of these organizations is The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; you can call them at 1-800-273-8255.