I remember Tommy very well. Tommy’s not his real name, we don’t identify people in my business – and that is a good thing.

Tommy was six feet seven inches tall, and weighed 280 pounds. He didn’t have much fat on him. A big strong man who ripped an iron seclusion door off its hinges at a state hospital. You didn’t want to mess with Tommy.

Especially when he wasn’t taking the little Lithium capsules that kept him from staying up all night, every night. When Tommy took his medications he was  mildly depressed. When he didn’t take the medications he got very, very happy. Tommy liked the power, the rush of energy he got from his illness. Once he led the police on a twenty mile car chase, doing 100 mph the whole way. Wasn’t much left of his car when it was finished, but Tommy was feeling fine.

I was part of a team working with Tommy. We respected each other, but we had our clashes. I remember him looking down at me a few times with murder in his eyes. I knew he wanted to take me out, but he never did. He was a born again fella, and liked to talk about his religion. Showed me a thirty page paper he had written about the end times. I told him: if you ever want to get serious about religion you’ll have to turn Catholic. He laughed.

I transferred to another county and lost touch with Tommy. I read in the paper  he took a dive off the High Bridge. Few people do that and survive. Tommy was no exception – he didn’t make it to shore. I always figured he’d go out taking someone with him – never took him for a suicide. But he was sick for a long time, and the sickness takes its toll on your brain, which made his life even harder. Guess it got too hard for Tommy, and he made his own end times.

A lot of people die in my line of work. I stopped counting a few years ago when it was over two dozen. Its a damn hard world to start with, and being sick can make things well nigh unbearable. One poor gal I knew immolated herself, and survived in acute agony for a couple of months before the end came. There is no lack of suffering in this world; the survivors come to terms with it. I don’t  judge those who don’t, but I do pray for them.

Requiescat in pacem

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