By Greyson Ferguson
Samuel Richards sat at his empty wooden desk. Pocked and scratched, once sharp corners dulled to the touch, the desk had accompanied Samuel throughout life. Now, pressed against the window of his third-floor apartment, it overlooked furniture recently discarded in the dumpster below. Orange light from a nearby street lamp pulled ominous shadows from the furniture.
Samuel ran his hand over a familiar dent, his finger fitting the abrasion like a well-worn baseball glove. Each gash, each crater, a different memory. Some good. Many not. Caressing each reminded him of these memories. Some he tried to touch. Most he avoided.
A single, exposed bulb hung from a wire overhead, an implacable draft rocking the light to and fro. It cast a shifting veil over Samuel's blank sheet of paper. He removed the cap from his pen and began writing his confession.
Reasons to Kill a Man, he wrote.
I was once asked what reason I would need to kill a man. What would push me over the edge? What would drive me to end his life?
hen I was 10. Boys at school called me fag and queer. They pushed me against lockers. I told them someday I'd kill them. But I didn't.
Men from church said they'd pray for me. They said they prayed I'd turn out normal. I didn't know what they meant. What did they mean by normal? I hated them for it. I wanted to kill them. But I didn't.
I liked a girl in college. She invited me over. I went over after class. Her boyfriend was there. I didn't even know she had a boyfriend but he was there. He punched me and they laughed. I could hear them laughing as I walked away, my nose bleeding. I cried and I wanted to kill them. But I didn't.
I was married once. I loved her. Then I found her texts from her lover. I wish I had never read those. I wish I could kill him. But I didn't.
My mom was always there for me. There when I was called a fag. There when my wife cheated. A drunk driver hit her last week. She died. I wanted to kill him. But I didn't.
I don't know if there's one thing that could push me over the edge. One thing that would drive me to end a man's life.
I guess none of these were reasons to kill a man.
But all of these were reasons to kill a man.
Samuel signed his name and slid the paper to the side. He stepped onto the empty desk, the slightly uneven sides wobbling under his weight. He slipped the rope already tied to the ceiling pipe around his neck, tightened it, and stepped off.
His legs rocked and twitched. A shoe toe caught the edge of the desk, leaving a new pock in the worn wood as Samuel's body stilled.