Before the Buddha could finish his sentence Brig hung up on him with as much drama and violence as one can when hanging up a cell phone. Brig threw the phone down on the bar impulsively, and hard enough to do damage. He retrieved it quickly to see if it was still operating. Fortunately the phone still worked. At least something was still working for him.
He was in a dive bar on the West side of Salt Lake City called the Lucky Leprechaun.
“Hey Andy, what does a guy have to do to get a drink around here?” Brig yelled at the bartender. He was angry after his call with the Buddha, but getting frosty with the bartender wouldn’t do him any good.
“First the guy’s got to pay for all the alcohol he’s already consumed, but hasn’t yet paid for, then that guy can get a drink.”
“Seriously? How many thousands of dollars do you think I’ve spent in here over the years? Hell, the tips I’ve given you alone must be near four digits.”
“I assume you’re counting the cents as digits?”
“C’mon bro. You know I’m good for it. Put it on my tab, I’ll settle with you on Friday.”
Andy looked at him skeptically.
“Look, I’ll thrown in an extra Benji just for you.”
“O.K. Brig. But after tonight, that’s it. If you don’t pay up, the boss is going to have my ass.”
“Oh, Puhlease. Let me talk to Jerry, and I’ll get you a raise.”
“No. Don’t say anything. Just pay up on Friday, and it’ll be all good.”
“Done and done. Now, less talk, more beer!”
Andy the bartender grabbed a glass from under the counter and poured a beer from the tap as Brig turned his attention to the television that hung from the ceiling. The local news was on. Brig listened as the reporter told of a “disturbed” teenage boy in Sandy, Utah that was shot dead earlier that day by police. Apparently the young man was holding a knife to his own mother’s neck, threatening to kill her if the cops didn’t back off. The boy then threw the woman to the ground and walked towards the police while brandishing his knife. The police told him him to drop the weapon, but when he didn’t comply the police opened fire. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The reporter called it “suicide by police.”
The bartender put the fresh beer in front of Brig, and said, “Help me, help you. Pay your tab.”
“You got it. Friday for sure…and I won’t forget the extra hundred I promised you, either.”
Brig fully intended to pay. He just didn’t know where the money would come from. This was new territory for Brig. He had never had to take care of himself and figure out how to get money to pay for stuff. Intellectually he understood the concept of getting paid for providing goods and/or services, but he had never had to actually do it. It didn’t matter, Brig thought to himself, he would be gone in a few days anyway. Earlier in the day he had decided to end it all. He would pawn as many of his possessions as he needed to, settle his debts with the people that had been good to him, and then cut, shoot, or jump his way into whatever came next. Maybe “suicide by police.” VII would love that kind of publicity Brig thought sarcastically.
He turned his attention back to the news that was reporting on yet another young man’s death. “…funeral services were held this afternoon for the young Ogden man who died earlier this week climbing the “Big Walls” in Zion National Park. According to the reporter, the boy was “free climbing,” climbing without the aid of ropes, on a fairly technical climbing route and fell more than one hundred feet, sustaining injuries that sent him first to the intensive care unit and ultimately to his death. The boy was an Eagle Scout, and according to his father had been preparing to go on a mission. The story went on to say how amazing this particular boy was, “…full of life…loved by all…kind to everyone…huge smile,” blah blah blah. That could’ve been me, if only I would’ve died back when I was eighteen, he thought remorsefully.
Brig compared the deaths of the two boys. One death appeared more noble than the other, but was it? By this time next year only a handful of people would remember either of them. In a hundred years, nobody would. Their shame or glory lasted only a day. Dying while doing something you enjoyed, like mountain climbing, seemed preferable to being shot to death by police, but the result was the same. Maybe how you died was what mattered. Maybe you entered the next life the way you left this one, Brig thought to himself. It was as plausible as any life after death theory he had heard so far. Of course being high and a little drunk caused a person to think that they were thinking more deeply than they really were.
Perhaps that was how he should do it. He could climb up one of his old favorite mountaineering routes and just jump. He smiled as he recalled how much he had once loved mountain climbing, and how he had even dreamed of one day climbing Mount Everest. He had always blamed his father for squashing that particular dream.
He had raised his beer nearly to his mouth when an idea hit him with such force that it stopped the momentum of his glass. What was holding him back from climbing Everest now? Well, for one, he could no longer afford it. It was expensive to join an Everest climbing expedition. Not to mention that he was not even close to being in climbing shape. Some days he could barely climb into or out of bed. But that really isn’t the point, Brig thought to himself. He knew it was highly unlikely he would ever reach the top of Everest, even under the best of circumstances, but what an awesome way to die. It would be a powerful message of rebuke to his father, with Mount Everest as his tombstone. He decided then and there that he would make the pilgrimage to the top of the world. Suicide by Everest.