I read this article about a guy who tried to kill himself with a bullet and a frying pan, and I think that’s interesting, sort of, and sort of funny and sad too, I can definitely tell people about that, and the next day in the pub I do. We’re talking – me, Brian, Lucy and Claire – about guns or another massacre of some sort, and I say, hey, did you read about that guy who offed, or tried to off, himself with a bullet and a frying pan?
They all shake their heads.
– No? Apparently he couldn’t afford to buy a gun or whatever, because he was so poor, so he got a bullet, brought it home, sat it in the pan, turned the gas on, and then stood over it waiting for the bullet to heat and fly up through his brain. Something like that anyway.
– That’s awful.
– Yeah. Problem is, he fell asleep waiting for the bullet to heat up, so when it went off it went in his mouth, which was open apparently, and shot out through his cheek, and he didn’t die. You’ve got to ask yourself, don’t you? Why would – how could – you fall asleep during a suicide attempt? I mean, come on.
When I finish, Brian says: Where did you read this?
I tell him.
– And you believe it?
– Sure, why not?
– It seems a bit improbable.
– But not impossible.
– Nothing’s impossible.
– Okay, but say he got the bullet, fine, that detail I get, and maybe the frying pan thing works, though I’ve never heard of that before, how could he position his head over the bullet to make sure it would kill him?
– Yeah – Lucy this time – and how could he do it in such a comfortable way that he fell asleep? Surely he was leaning over the pan, right?
– Maybe he’s a talented leaner, Clare says. I fell asleep on a bench press once.
– Yeah, but you were lying down.
– This guy wasn’t.
I take a sip of my beer.
– And his mouth just happens to be open too? Lucy says. A bit of a coincidence, yeah?
I take another sip.
– Okay, but isn’t it kind of sad anyway, falling asleep during your own suicide attempt then failing? And then the whole thing of not being able to afford a gun so just using a bullet. His determination, and – I don’t know.
Lucy: If the story wasn’t made up.
Brian: It would be, but I don’t believe it. Why was his mouth open? How could he fall asleep standing up or leaning over the pan?
I finish my beer.
– So if I go away and come up with reasons and tell it again, then you’ll believe it?
Clare: I already do. There’s no need.
So I go home, google a bit and note down some reasons, and a month later when we’re in another pub I try again. I say: Do you remember that story I told you about the guy who tried to kill himself by putting a bullet in a frying pan?
They shake their heads, they need reminding.
– Well, there was this guy who had narcolepsy – you know, when you fall asleep at random times. A kid in my class at school had it: he fell asleep once when our physics teacher Mr Evans was showing us some lasers or something. Started snoring right there in class, mouth wide open, and Mr Evans went mental at him. Not that that was unusual, he was that kind of teacher. He called us a bunch of shysters once. I hated him. He was a doctor in physics and he knew it. He had this pipe too that he chewed on all through class, and shirts that didn’t quite fit him, so there was always this triangle of belly you could see where he’d failed to tuck them in.
Anyway, this guy – the one with the frying pan, not the kid in my class – wanted to kill himself, but couldn’t afford a gun, so he bought a bullet from this gun-stroke-pawn shop after watching this action movie where the hero threw a bunch of bullets in a pan, and turned the heat on so they’d all fly out and kill some intruders. If it happens in the movies, he thought, then it must be do-able, especially as the movie was one of those new, more realistic action ones. He was desperate too. He hardly had any money.
So he bought the bullet, went home, and did the whole frying pan thing, stood the bullet up in the middle directly over the ring, and then leant over the pan. He had one of those extractors over the hob, so he put his forehead against it, rested himself and waited. Only when he was waiting he had one of those narcoleptic episodes, like that kid in my physics class, and fell asleep mouth open – his nose was bunged up too – and the moment he did the bullet went off into his mouth and right through his cheek.
When he started screaming the neighbours came round, and he went to hospital, maybe thinking he was a failure or something, or like one of those guys that goes to hospital with a dildo stuck up their arse or their cock in an exhaust.
When I finish Brian says, is that true?
I sip some beer.
– Course it is.
Clare: Poor guy.
Lucy: Yeah, sad.
Brian: why didn’t he use a rope, though, or slit his wrists? Cheaper and easier than a bullet, no?
– Oh, I forgot. He couldn’t bring himself to slit his wrists. Too personal or intimate or something. The police questioned him at the hospital. And the ceilings in his flat were too low. He’d already tried that. And he was too tall.
Lucy: Oh, right.
I take a sip of beer. I figure that’s the end of it. They check their phones, finish their drinks. Then Lucy puts her phone on the table and goes: But why did he want to kill himself?
– Yeah – Brian again – and wouldn’t he’ve known he might have one of his narcoleptic episodes?
I tell them to find out themselves.