Mid afternoon. Dennis pinned the casing of a round, fumbled with a hacksaw — “Shit.” Other rounds lurched, rolled, fell to the floor. He set the hacksaw down, grabbed a pair of pliers, pinched the bullet, pulled. The shallow teeth of the pliers dug into the bullet. Dennis dislodged it, spilled gunpowder.
Abigail walked in. “What the hell are you doing?”
Startled, Dennis grabbed a wastebasket, frantically wiped the desk clear, dropped dismantled cartridges. “I’m snorting coke. Leave me alone!” Dennis stood, she backpedaled — her palms out, eyes bulging, rolling, face twisted into an expression of goofy scorn. He shut the door in her face.
Dennis sighed, sat, looked out the window, at rolling hills, tall, narrow Victorian homes crammed next to one another, corner stores, pedestrians, the sun glimmering off windshields. Then, the desk. Empty shells, scattered gunpowder, the draft of his suicide letter, cursor blinking.
He had spent the morning at the keyboard, googling terms like, “how to write,” “cure writer’s block,” “leave them wanting more.” A case of .45 caliber rounds sat on the desk. A single-shot, double-barreled revolver lay in a drawer.
Dennis didn’t purchase the pistol with the intention of blowing his brains out. At the register, vague thoughts had entered his head. He was searching for inspiration, angels descending from the sky. Something. Dennis knew he’d end it, eventually, but hadn’t yet settled on a method. Maybe he’d slit his wrist — plunge, drive a knife through an artery. Or swan-dive from the Golden Gate. Or jump in front of a BART train, disappear under the hot, mangling undercarriage. But first, he needed to write an ending — a remarkable ending, to an otherwise unremarkable life.
Throughout the afternoon, Dennis had, with difficulty, attempted to recall the trucker’s instructions for how to assemble makeshift blanks. Dennis wanted the steel nozzle against his temple, to wrap his fingers around the trigger, pull, feel his arm violently recoil, hear the gun discharge — bang. Then, he figured, he could write. And who knew? Maybe he’d end up going with the gun. For real.