Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Suicide by Cop - Part 1

A few years ago, I read a book about persons who’d unsuccessfully attempted suicide, and then grown to be grateful for their failures, even though several of them had survived mangled or paralyzed. The author had apparently intended his book to be inspirational, but my own principal takeaway was that jumping off bridges or tall buildings commonly doesn’t get the job done.  This troubled me, as I’d earlier ruled out an overdose of pharmaceuticals as the coward’s way out, and I’ve been cowardly enough in life as to be uncomfortable with the idea of being cowardly as I leave it. I thought of hanging myself — which I understood was apt to involve a moment’s sexual ecstasy — and of handcuffing myself to the steering wheel of my car while it was in the garage, and then turning the engine on, but I was pretty sure, given my mechanical ineptitude and dread of all things automotive, that neither was the right choice for me. 

Eventually I hit on the idea of suicide by cop, even though well aware that, if I got one who was a rotten shot, I might wind up in worse condition than if I jumped off a building. I went to Toys R Us and bought myself the most convincing-looking AK47 they had in stock, drove over to David Geffen’s 13,600-square-foot house on Angelo Drive in Beverly Hills, originally built by Jack Warner of Warner Bros. fame in the late 1930s, and then gutted and rebuilt by Geffen, who is gay, and thus has exquisite taste. I handcuffed myself to the front gate, threw the key into a thick hedge, and began shouting about how I’m a better songwriter than Jackson Browne and a better screenwriter than Robert Towne, and thus had deserved Geffen’s patronage a lot more than they had. 

It took only about 90 seconds for the first of half a dozen neighborhood security patrolmen to arrive on the scene. While the rest were arriving with much screeching of brakes, it occurred to me that at any given moment during the day, Spanish speakers — maids, pool cleaners, gardeners, and what have you — probably outnumber English speakers in Beverly Hills by around five to one. None of the security guards, all of whom addressed me as sir, in that begrudging way of persons who flunked out of cop school, spoke anything other than English. My favorite of them told me that he too was a failed screenwriter, and that he felt my pain, but I nonetheless refused to divulge where I'd tossed the handcuff key.

At least one of his colleagues, probably hoping to curry favor with someone who hadn’t flunked out of cop school, called the LAPD, and five minutes later I was surrounded by cops, television news teams (every last one including a reporter named Kelly or Kelli with blonde hair on whose maintenance she obviously spent a great deal of money), and a few bemused Latino gardeners. 

A helicopter buzzed and sputtered overhead. It felt as though I’d finally regained the stardom of which cruel circumstances and my lack of talent stripped me in 1973. I reached into my Adidas duffel bag and produced my AK-47, inspiring much gasping.  


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