My Curse of 27

When I was eight, my mom dropped my brother and I off at school.

As we pulled into the parking lot the Canadian flag was flying at half-mast.

“Why is the flag like that?” I asked my mom.

She was slow and hesitant in her response.

“A boy in grade five,” she swallowed heavy, “hung himself in his bedroom closet this weekend.”

I didn’t understand what that meant.

“It means that he won’t be coming to school anymore.”

“Why?” I asked, having no prior insight into suicide.

“Because his girlfriend dumped him and he was sad, so he killed himself.”

“You can do that?”

As I walked towards class, I remembered when I was 4 and had my first experience with death; my great-grandpa’s open casket funeral.

My dad told me to stay away from the coffin, but while he was out smoking a cigarette I snuck in and looked at his cold, lifeless body and poked him to see if he’d wake up.

In the school parking lot that day I understood that death was an option, not just an act of God.

My child’s mind came to associate feelings of sadness with suicide.

Life took on a new meaning; a video game that – if you’re bored of playing – can be unplugged, anytime.

Game over.

Soon after, I was introduced to the music of Nirvana and felt a bond between myself and Kurt Cobain.

I’d always felt out-of-place as the artsy, writer kid.

Kurt made me feel alive in my own skin and allowed me to overlook other kid’s criticism that I was a nerd.

Kurt Cobain made it feel cool to be different.

I began to find comfort in my writing and drawing and it became a daily obsession.

I strived to write poetry that I could imagine Kurt Cobain singing in front of millions of adoring fans and made drawings I envisioned on album covers.

His music and odd-ball personality made me feel like there was hope in making a career out of creativity, something my father disapproved of, harshly.

Two years later, my mom and I were driving to the mall when the radio cut-off mid-song and there was dead-air for thirty seconds.

“I’m sorry,” the radio host whimpered, holding back tears, “that I have to be the person to tell you this.”  I turned up the volume.

“Kurt Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home this morning with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.”

The car stopped and my mom’s eyes went wide with fear as she watched for a reaction in me.

I asked her to leave the keys in the ignition and leave me alone for a few minutes, and as soon as she shut the car door, I broke down in tears.

All of a sudden, the man who I aspired to be like had killed himself.

He too must have been sad like the boy from elementary school.

If my idol – who I frantically tried to creatively emulate – couldn’t find happiness in life, I was doomed to failure.

After Kurt Cobain’s death, there was a wave of copy-cat suicides, as teenagers were shooting themselves with shotguns every day in tribute to their fallen hero.

It worried my mom, so I didn’t have to go to school for the next few days.

Instead I laid in bed and plotted my own life’s demise.

My world crumbled, from this point forward.

My mind became consumed with death.

I began to plot the end of my life; write a few books and once people start to read them, kill yourself.

That way, I’d never be forgotten.

Years later, I tattooed 27 on my wrist, as if X marked the spot…

Author: robert radKe

two nights after bj draKe died, robert j radKe was resurrected from the dead, involuntarily admitted and institutionalized and now frantically spreads light and melts crayons overtop of the smudgy grayness that bj draKe suffocated from his old, happy life.

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