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Monday, February 6, 2012

Suicide in the 90's

Back in the early 90's I was working for a company that required me to wear a 357 on side, hand cuffs on my belt.  The job was a manly job. A very "straight" environment.

One morning I walk into the office the chief said, Opie come here, I walked into his office and said yeah chief what you need. He pointed to the chair in his very small and cramped office. I turned to sit down, but there was this young man sitting in the chair that I was heading for. I heard the chief say, Opie  err  Allen meet Richard. We shook hands, our eyes locked, and we smiled. Richard said Opie like on Andy Griffth show? The Chief said yes.  I jumped into the conversation, yeah they started calling me Barney, but too many of them said I looked to young for him, so they started calling me Opie.

The chief said Opie here is going to show you the ropes, now get out of my office.

Richard and I worked two weeks together. I showed him all about the job. We became close in two weeks. I mean as friends. We often talked about "straight" things, like baseball, and soft ball. He also was an umpire. He often talked about the games he worked.

He started working the 2 nd shift and I was still on the first.  I was sitting down for lunch with some of my co-workers.  They started talking about Richard, how he was a fairy. One guy even limped his wrist to show his point.  One of the guys said so Opie did he ask you out yet.  I was taken back. I sat there for a minute and then said no.  I think my response was to long, cause they all stopped talking and started laughing.

Day after day, I had to eat lunch with this self-centered, I am better than you, guys.  Every day, it was Richard this and Richard that. I remember one day that one of them said he was on patrol and saw his car sitting in a Fag Bars parking lot.

I didnt say anything. I was still in the closet.

I finally got so sick of the shit. I requested a transfer to the late shift.  It was granted. I would have rather went to 2nd shift, but Richard worked that shift, and I really did not want people talking about us.

The late shift was quite different.  The streets are empty, the town sleeps.

My first night on the job, I was sent to work with Pat.  Now Pat was this sweet little lady. She smiled most all the time. I shook Pats hand and introduced myself.  Pat and I hit it off. I mean she was a blast to be around. We laughed so much. I enjoyed spending time with her at night.

2 months later

One night it was winter time, there was snow coming down, I walked into the office and said hello to Pat, Pat turned to me and did not have a smile on her face. She looked down right pissed off. I asked what was wrong? She said we are getting a new person to work with us here. She went on to say that I hear he is a by the book kind of guy.  He is supposed to be here at 11pm, but the Lt. called and said he was stopping by the station first and then coming here. Now Pat and I got into a really nice routine, this will disrupt it a bit. I think that is why she was upset.  I was sitting there trying to think who this person was.  I told Pat I am going out to do my first round. I wished her well and out the door I went.  I went and jumped in the the car, started it up and took off. I just got down the street and over the raido I hear, 98 to 102. I pick up the mic and say 102 go ahead.  She said Opie I need you in the office.  I say 10-4 on my way.

I was puzzled why she would call me back so soon. I still had 2 hours out on patrol. I go back into the office and there sat Richard. I walked up to him and smiled and said what are you doing here? Working late? Or did you want to see my smiling face. He laughed at me.  He said yeah OP that's it.  He said I asked for a transfer and got it. I looked shocked. I said your kidding right? He said nope. He went on to say that he was working in our building for the next 3 months.

I looked at him and asked him if he wanted the first patrol. He said sure and grabbed the keys out of my hand and took off.

I went into the office, Pat was sitting behind the desk.  I looked at her and said well I trained him. She said you what? Yeah about 4 months ago. Well I don't like him.  Oh come on Pat, you don't know him yet. Now Op you know how these guys are. Oh please tell me Pat?   Her opinion was he was a spy for the big bosses. But since the big bosses was talking behind his back about him being gay. I don't think he was a spy. She stood up really quick and said "The who is doing what?!   I said woops I said to much. She walks over to me and shoves me up against the wall. She yells "tell me now!"  I told her about my lunches with the co-workers including the sgt and the LT.  Every day at lunch. It was making me sick.  She released me.

She said what proof do they have?  I shrugged my shoulders, and said "they say his car is at a "fag bar" all the time. She put her finger up in my face and said "you ever use the word FAG again, I will cut your balls off" I said yes ma'am. Ya know, I really thought she could/would do it.  She storms out of the office.

I really don't know what set her off so bad. I just couldn't figure it out. Several hours later she comes back to the office.  She said I need some coffee.

2 Weeks later

I had a meeting that I had to attend on day shift. I was not looking forward to it, I really did not want to see or interact with them.  After the meeting was over with I tried to get out before the 50 questions started. But I did not make it. One of the old farts said hey OPIE very loud. Got every ones attention. So whats it like to work with a FAG and a mom with two FAG sons?  I was in shock. I said huh, I got to go. I walked out as everyone in the room was laughing.

The next night I started my night. Pat greets me at the door. Hey Op wanna a cup of Coffee?  I just shook my head yes. She looks at me and said whats wrong?  I said well I dont know how to say this, so I am just going to lay it all out.  You know I went to my meeting this morning, she nodded her head. Well when it was over, I tried really hard to get out quick. But it wasn't quick enough.  She sat down and said, NOW what?

Well they asked and I quote. I took in a deep breath, I started to say it, and then said please dont cut my balls off.  She said spit it out already.  Ok I said its like this. They asked how it was to work with a fag and a mom that has to fag sons. She had shock on her face.  I said well do you?

She said its none of your business, but yes I do.  I sat down next to her. I said really?  She said why are you so interested in my sons? no reason I said. (but deep down I knew I was gay)

As time passed Pat and I became very close friends. She would tell  me about her sons, what they are doing and what was going on in their lives.  There was one night that we was having our coffee and I blurted out I think I am gay. She had a mouth full of coffee and then it was all over the desk, on the floor and dripping down her chin. I believe I caught her off guard.  She was the very first person I came out too. Well sort of.
She said I was wondering when you was going to tell me.  She said I have known it for awhile now. She walks over to me and gives me a big hug.

What about Richard?

At the same time I became very close friends with Pat, I became good friends with Richard.  Richard and I pretty much hit it off. We would spend hours talking about sports, home life, work etc. All except Girls. Not one conversation had a girl in it, unless he was talking about Pat.

It was a unusual night. Richard and I had the same night off. This hardly ever happened. I just dont know what got into me. But I had to find out if Richard was going to the Gay Bar or not.  So I jump into my car and headed down town.

I drove to the bar that the jerks from work said he went. I go to it and there in the parking lot sits Richards car. I knew it was his car. I have seen it many times before at work.  I sat in the parking lot for what seemed like hours. I finally got up the nerve to go inside of the bar. Now grant it. I am just 22 years old. Been in only 3 bars. I was not comfortable doing this. Might have been ok with friends, but by my self was really hard for me.

I step inside, I look around to see I can see him. Ah there he is, he is sitting at the bar talking to the bartender.  I walked up the the bar and the bartender said what will you have, I said two beers.  I take the beers and walk over to where he is sitting.  As I get closer, I see he is talking to this young guy and his hand was on his leg. (you would have thought that would have stopped me) Wrong. I walk right up in-between them. The young man said hey and stands up drew his fist back. I pull out my badge and show it to him. The guys face turned white. He backs off. Richard sat there in shock.  I sat down on the bar stool next to him and hand him a beer.  I lean over to him and say, Is there something you want to tell me?

Richard surprises me he leans over like he is going to whisper in my ear, but instead kisses me on the lips.  So now I am in shock.  I just sat there, my eyes were roaming around the room to see who was watching me. Just about everyone was. I had the "I need to run" feeling. But I didnt. I stayed right there. We talk for the rest of the night well until the bar closed, or I should say it was way after the bar closed, cause Richard knew the owners.

The next night that we worked together was awkward. I am in the office with Pat and Richard walks in smiling. He said whats going on?  I looked at him and asked wow you sure are in a good mood. He looks at me and smiles and said I should be. He winked at me. I looked over to see if Pat saw him. She did, I sank down in the chair. Pat looks at me and says Spill it.  Richard says did you not tell her that I kissed you the other night. I sunk down in my seat further.  I was extremely uncomfortable.  She said well you two would make a cute couple. I jumped up and said it was only a kiss and I left the room.  I was freaking out. I mean it hadn't been that long ago that I told Pat that I thought I was gay. But things was moving to fast. Panic attack number one.

Pat, Richard and I became very close friends.  We all went out to breakfast or lunch or dinner. We knew what we all had planed for the day. And yes sometimes we went on outings together.

1 year 3 months 5 days later

Its 11:05pm I ask Pat if she has heard anything from Richard. It unlike him to not show up for work or even call for that matter.  Pat told me she has not heard anything from him. 11:10 pm still nothing. I am starting to really worry. I decided to call him.  I dialed the phone and it rang and rang, his answering machine picked up. All I said was Tag Your It.  He knew who that was. I was the one that started it with him and Pat. 1:35am I told Pat there is something wrong, I just know it.  I hit the mic on my radio  102 to control.... control here.... can you send a unit to 105's house? ...... control said that is a Lt call hold on....  Some time passed then the Lt get on the radio.... control to 58..... 58 go ahead..... control said go to unit 105 house and check things out.  58 said 10-4.

I knew it would take unit 58 about 25 minutes to get to his house and it should take about 10 minutes to check things out. So I should know something in about 35 minutes. Well 35 minutes came and still nothing.  panic attack number two.  I work myself up most of the time. But I just had a gut feeling. That something was really wrong.  50 minutes are gone and then I hear the radio crack. 58 to control....  control go ahead....  you need to send the Lt out here.... control to 58..... 58 go ahead.... Lt is on his way. So now I am really freaking out. Pat is freaking out. and we can seem to sit still or calm down.  3 hours went by with not a word.  Then all of a sudden the radio cracks, control to 102, I raise my hand up and grab the mic shaking. 102 go ahead.... meet the Lt in his office.  I said 10-4

I go to the Lt's office and he said have a seat. I sat down.  He just sat there looking at me. He draws in a deep breath and says Allen, Richard killed himself.  My heart was racing, my palms was sweating. I was trying to hold back the tears. He said he pulled his car in the garage and closed the door and  left his car running. He said he changed his mind, but it was too late. He died trying to get out.

I left the Lt's office, its pretty much a blur. I remember walking back to my office so that I could tell Pat the news. I walked for quite sometime and then I sat in the snow and cried, and cried, and cried. Pat never heard the news from me. The driver that was on patrol, told her. He asked her where I was and she said the Lt's office.  He told her that I left an hour ago.  She yelled at the driver and wanted to know what the hell was going on.  The driver told her and then got on his radio. 55 to 102.....   55 to 102......  55 to 102.... I never heard the call. I turned down my radio when I went into the Lt's office, and forgot to turn it back up.
55 to 102.... control to 102...... nothing....  control to all units be on the look out for 102.....

I hear the snow crunching from behind me, someone was walking up on me from behind. I turn to see a flashlight in my face. I jump up and face the direction the my hand on my gun, ready to pull it out. 55 said Op  is that you?  I said yes why?  Jesus Christ you had everyone freaking out. Is your radio on?  I said of course its on see... pointing to the switch.  He said why havent you answered the radio?  I didnt hear anything.  55 then asked "why are you way over here in this park?"  I looked around in disbelief I did not realize that I had walked the wrong way.  All I knew is I needed to get out side and go tell Pat.

The Lt told 55 to take me home. That I needed some time off.  I get into the car and unit 55 doesnt say more than two words to me. Which is what I wanted.

I got home and opened the door, go in and sit in the middle of the floor and cried more. I was so hurt. My hurt turned into anger.

I started yelling as though he could hear me...  Why did you do it?   Why did you not call me?  What was so wrong that you couldnt tell me?  We have been friends for 3 years now.  HELLO are you listening to me?

Panic attack # 3, 4, 5, and 6

I woke up the next morning looking at the ceiling, and thinking that ceiling doesnt look right. Where am I, I look around to see the living room. I started crying again.  It kept going over and over in my mind what the Lt said. He wanted out. But yet he did not make it.   I did the blame game. You know blame myself. What if I would have asked for a unit sooner, would he be alive today?  What if I would have been more than just friends would he be alive?  He did not leave a note.  Not anything.  He just did it.

I will Always Miss You RICHARD!


Cubby said...

Oh Allen, how painful. I was in tears at the end. The shock and regret of suicide can last for a lifetime but at least Richard lives on in your memories.

Anonymous said...

How sad Allen . My daughter's friend just committed suicide last week, how sad for both them . It leaves you feeling so lost and wondering WHY ?

izzo said...

Hey Allen, i understand the pain. My best friend killed himself in May of last year. It was not because he was gay, even though he was, he had an addiction problem, but the pain is still the same...

John said...

Thanks for sharing your story. Maybe it will save a life, if someone is contemplating suicide. To know that the pain felt by the surviving friends and family is never ending just might make somebody think twice.

I don't think you can ever get over something like that. Life goes on for the surviving friends and family, but it's never the same and you never forget.

Allen said...

@ Cubby - He is always in my memories. I miss him so much. I miss his smiling face and his personality.

@ Sally - I am sorry to hear that your daughter is going through my pain. If she ever wants to talk just send her my way. =o)

@ izzo - Love your site! And thanks for stopping by mine. The pain is still the same no matter what. It just so sad.

@ John - I hope it saves a life. I really hope so. You are right, you never ever forget!

Pat said...

What a story! Who knows why people do the things they do. But you shouldn't blame yourself. You were a GOOD friend to Richard. He was dealing with his own demons - silently. I am sorry for your loss.

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