Given Enough Rope – Lolita

Disturbed by the multiple news reports of double murder suicides that seem to be the trend locally, I ponder the triggers that would drive someone to commit these acts.

The stories seem to follow the same pattern; a man, usually a security guard, a policeman, or a soldier, murders his estranged wife and her lover, then he turns his weapon on himself.

I draw upon my own memories, emotions, feelings, to become such a man. I feel what he feels. Then I sit down to write. I write of a man named Mr. Smith.

Mr. Smith is frustrated with his job, his boss, his wife, his life. He has been laid off, his wife has left him for another man, and he wants a way out of his misery. Mr. Smith decides that he needs some rope.

He takes a taxi to the nearest hardware store, some miles away, but the proprietor refuses to sell just a few feet of rope to him; he must buy the full 300 feet. Determined to see his decision through, Mr. Smith purchases the full length, but there are no taxis available for the return trip to his home. He must walk.

Slinging the coil of rope over his back, he begins his long and lonely journey. He wonders what else could go wrong. In the distance he sees a crowd of people. Approaching them, he asks a child on the fringe of the crowd what the commotion is about. The boy replies that his friend, a young boy, has fallen down a hole, but no one can reach him to pull him up. Mr. Smith unwraps some of his rope and gives it to the boy, who squeezes through the crowd with it. As he walks away, Mr. Smith can hear the crowd’s cheers of joy as the child is lifted to safety.

Further down the road, Mr. Smith meets some other people in a predicament needing rope. On and on along his way this takes place, he helps many people with different lengths of the rope he had bought, until he arrives at his home.

At home, he checks how much rope he has left and it is just enough for his purposes. Mr. Smith removes his shoes, and stands on a chair. He makes a loop of rope and slings it over the rafters; the other end is around his neck.

He is hesitant. Several times he lifts his foot to take a step, but stops each time.

As thoughts of his problems once again overwhelm him, Mr. Smith makes up his mind; he is going to do it. The chair is rocking beneath him, but hears a knocking.

With a dejected sigh, Mr. Smith gets down off of the chair and goes to the window. The little girl that lives next door to him is there. Her swing has broken and she needs some rope to fix it.

Mr. Smith decides to use his last bit of rope to make the little girl happy.

I create a short animated film of the tale of Mr. Smith, and I win an award for the story. A filmmaker named Bruce tells me that the resolution of the story is too “syrupy”. However, a local television station invites me onto their afternoon talk show to speak about the story and animated film.

At the talk show hosts prodding I disclose my email address and mobile phone number over the air. After the interview I begin receiving calls from well-wishers, most of whom believe that the story had personal implications for me. They are worried about me; thinking that I am suicidal. Some say that they have “friends” that are going through similar trials to Mr. Smith.

One of the emailers is Lolita…


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