This was something that I thought of while driving home one night then wrote down everything I could remember of the idea, and completely forgot about it the next day.
Henry Falwell died while practicing the Heimlich Maneuver on himself. In what was to be his eleventh variance of the evening Falwell positioned himself, arms stretched wide to lessen resistance, began his fall, welcomed the cool metal of the chair as it pushed against his shirt, felt breath flee from his body while simultaneously attempting to regain his balance from the unsteady and sliding chair, before realizing almost quickly enough that he was going to hit his kitchen table, and finally, reluctantly allowed the table to rigidly kiss his temple, all in one fluid motion.
These practice sessions had become a habit in recent weeks, and Falwell practiced the maneuver for up to an hour every evening in order to gain perfection in a moment of need. Fear of choking after he learned of his neighbor’s near life ending run-in with a gristly bite of pot roast. The marriage of her complaints about the poor selection in the butcher shop nearby and the mastication process was nearly disastrous. The recipient of the complaints, a small dog which never left a ten foot radius around its bed and food and water dishes unless carried by suffering neighbor, only became alarmed when the neighbor’s ranting ceased mid syllable. Luckily for the neighbor she was trained to apply the Heimlich Maneuver on herself.
Resident A died while practicing the Heimlich Maneuver on himself. In what was to be his eleventh variance of the evening, Resident A positioned himself behind the rounded chair, arms stretched wide to lessen resistance, began his fall, welcomed the cool plastic of the chair as it pushed against his shirt, felt breath flee from his body, and, while attempting to regain his balance from the unsteady and sliding chair, reluctantly allowed the table to rigidly kiss his temple.
These practice sessions had become a habit in recent weeks, and Resident A practiced the maneuver for up to an hour every evening in order to gain perfection in a moment of need. The fear of choking had developed after he learned of his neighbor’s near life ending run-in with a gristly bite of pot roast. While his neighbor, the widowed Resident C, had simply fallen across one of the chairs at her table and sent the piece of pot roast in question sailing into the water bowl of Resident D, her roommate/adopted or rescued “child,” Resident A had been striving to find the most effective stance for his fall. Needless to say the swan dive starting position, elegant and forceful on the abdomen as it may have been, yielded negative results for Resident A.
From an early age, he thought of taking his own life. The first real method came after John Belushi’s death. He would sneak down to watch his parents watch Saturday Night Live, and on occasion be allowed to press between them on sofa and watch, laughing when they laughed until he fell asleep. When his father told him about the actor’s death and the cause of it, Resident A became fixed on it. When he later learned the effects of the drugs, he resigned to the fact that it would be a nice way to leave the world, painless, not even aware.
His thoughts on ending his life evolved as he matured. After watching a friend’s bikini clad, older sister retrieve a single fried chicken leg from the greasy bucket on table, and seeing her eyes glaze over with the indulgence of the greasy food, it became another key factor in the perfect death. He imagined himself devouring two or three large buckets of the greasy, crispy chicken. He’d wipe his hands on his shirt, the furniture, the rug beneath him. So full he’d welcome the relief of death.
When Resident A fell in love, it all changed. His death would be last chance effort to make a statement. A connection. For nearly a year he had glanced, daily, in the direction of tall brunette three floors down. There was always some excuse to go down there. For nearly a year he’d quietly admired the nameless woman, and for nearly a year he’d never remembered to bring his courage with him. When it was too much to bear he would imagine his passion coursing through his body. He’d push the desk through the long window in his office, and then he’d follow after it. Falling, surrounded by papers and pens, he’d look to her one last time, one last image of her. He would see her, hands over her mouth, a small dam of tears waiting to burst when he hit.
At forty, life reclaimed him. He no longer imagined the perfect death, but fought with his weakening muscles to prevent it from coming at all. He became cautious. Too cautious for his own good. A fire extinguisher in every room. Refusing to lick envelopes. Planning fire escape routes instead of grand deaths. Practicing the Heimlich Maneuver...