The room was dark.
There were the cracks of light from streetlights that windows
allowed, but these had a peculiar effect to make things darker by
comparison. The penetrating darkness played tricks on the mind
with the objects in the cluttered attic, as children can tell you
the way lamps and coat hangers are transformed into the monsters
of their nightmares by the absence of illumination. Yes, things
in the dark have a way with terrifying mankind in ways which they
never could clothed in light. As anyone can tell you they way
those that don't understand, that are, in the dark, so to say,
have a unique capability to strike fear in the hearts of those
who believe themselves situated at the apex of truth. That is,
if you're one for such observations. Jeffery Marshall was.
Jeffery had several such observations, but no observers, so he
thought. But why should he need…no..want any! Yes, why should
he even desire their company! One should be disgraced to fall
into favor with such useless individuals. He could be-he was,
better. Just the way he was, too. How dare they try to change
their friend Jeffery! Do they fancy him some sort of clay they
can mold about to fit their liking? An intervention, they called
it. He struggled to unearth a way in his mind in which such a
practice could achieve its stated goals. Good thing too. A
foolish practice. "You need help." The words echoed, especially
the last "help, help, help." He began to hate that word. He
needed no help, no sir. The only help in order for him, he
decided, was to leave him be with the only thing that offered him
any real assistance. Help. He sneered. He'd show them what he
could do without "help." And so he took a step upward, all
Jeffery was wrong. He needed help, and I'd hope you understand
why. I don't think it matters what his exact problem was, same
as I feel about a bundle of other details about his story that I
don't know, and here's why. Cocaine, meth, alcohol, ecstasy,
lust, greed; all different in form, different in effects; yet
same in nature. They do not destroy your life (only you can do
that,) they destroy you. Quietly, secretly, swiftly, without
your knowing. Drugs all of them. As for the case of Jeffery
Marshall, Macklemore said in his own exposé on drugs "He didn't
even think he had a problem." Who knows, perhaps the man known
for his affinity for secondhand shopping shouldn't be taken at
his word on such matters. But Jeffery Marshall did not think he
had a problem. Yet he found himself in an empty attic, at the
obscure hours between night and morning, ascending a short ladder
towards a rope tied just for the occasion.
"We sell our dreams and our potential to escape through that
He stopped on the bottom rung of the ladder for a moment. Only
seemed logical, he thought. This wasn't the kind of think you
sprint into, or so he figured. He hadn't sped into it leading up
to this point; doing so now would be, well, nothing if not
anticlimactic. It might seem strange that the same man who had
tied his own noose just a few days earlier in the attic of his
friend's house where he lived, taking the time to painstakingly
and masterfully hide the thing, to shiver at the sight of it now.
Perhaps it was the dark. It does wonders to make things more
terrifying, you know.
You may not think of it, but that action of tying a knot must
have been just as incredible a moment as this one that I'm
walking you through now. The way in which he had presented it to
himself had made it so easy to do. Of course, he hadn't known
how to properly arrange the rope, but a stolen library book fixed
that. Why did he steal it, you ask? Well, I'll just say that
stolen objects which he could have gotten without cost were the
slightest of his problems then and now. But mostly then. Before
this becomes a story about stories all that I will say is this:
taking that book and reading it, and climbing that ladder the
first time and tying that rope, and circling it and hanging all
types of sheets and cloths all around it to disguise its
presence; all this Jeffery Marshall did for another man. He told
himself that these preparations wouldn't be used until something
had turned him into someone else. But the individual at the
bottom of that ladder this night was the same discontent,
disgruntled, and unadmittedly scared man that had ascended his
little staircase once before. Maybe that's why he stopped. He
wasn't supposed to be there. Someone else was, and Jeffery had
to find him. Another step.
Jeffery was shocked. Why had he done that? There was no thought
that entered his mind that pushed him to take the next step. He
was going about this all wrong, he thought. Someone should laugh
if they saw him now. There was a thought. That alone, the idea
of being mocked and scorned at this hour, almost prompted him to
take his final step. No, no, no, that wasn't good enough.
Imagining the room full of his closest acquaintances delighted
him at the moment. Oh, if they were there! Oh, they would watch;
they would see; they would feel. No, the scorn of the others
wasn't much motivation for Jeffery Marshall. No one would laugh
at him he decided, no one outside of his own head.
This however led him on to another stunning realization. There
was no one to mock him. There was no one at all. He was alone
with the darkness, and how was he to know what that held? They
were all gone. They were all in that one singular location:
gone. That's fine, he thought. That's perfect actually. What
enraged him was a different question altogether: Where were they?
They should be here now. They should always be here, shouldn't
they? That's what they told him, and yet here he was, alone in
the darkness, with even his shadow having deserted him. They
hadn't done anything for him since the day he was born. They
never supported him, never loved him (not as much as the others),
never helped him. Though he wanted no help! Now he was only
tangling thing up in his own mind. Yes, Jeffery Marshall was a
confused man in a confused moment. Somewhere veiled in that
internally confused moment, Jeffery Marshall took the step to the
top of his troubles, as it seemed.
There it was, dutifully tied and horrendously staring back at
him. That rope seemed to have far more nerve than he had, and he
hated to look at it, but there was nothing else to see. He had
hung a mirror from the rafters, and the reflection was dark.
'Why this way?' a part of him asked.
It is a strange way to go about the thing, after all. So many
other ways to do it, too. This method required grave digging,
spitting in the face of one's self. It's drawn out too. Most
people look at a firearm and figure that's the shortest distance
from place to place and it is. Some scream and holler from the
top of some building for hours before letting the cards fall
where they may. Might say that's quicker, and better too than
Jeffery Marshall's plan. But the path he chose, it just bubbled
up with feeling. You felt it, in the kicking, the falling, the
swaying. That's why the law used to use it in the old days, I
think. To make sure everyone felt that emotion that must have
been there when they did whatever they did to get it, that
emotion wasn't lost. It was there. And that dark attic, it was
there too. Couldn't see it in the dark, but it was there.
And so the time had come, or something like that which he thought
would come. Jeffery Marshall reached out and took hold of the
rope, doing so slowly as he had done everything else. He didn't
like the way it felt. It wasn't even high quality rope. It
seemed rough and beaten, and a part of him was afraid that the
rope would break. He saw himself lying on the floor currently
beneath his feet, with a poor excuse for a string beside him,
more confused than he was presently. Of course, another part of
him hoped that this would happen. This was a night on which
Jeffery Marshall agreed with himself very little.
Perhaps by putting it around his neck, that would accomplish it.
Feeling the abrasive instrument of his own demise beneath his
chin would galvanize him to the point where he could do the only
thing that could save his own dignity in his mind. He thought
that maybe, just maybe, he would emerge on the other side of that
knot a new man, ready to challenge the world by departing from
He was sorely disappointed.
He was still Jeffery Marshall. He was still standing alone, in a
nearly empty attic; it was still dark. His friends still thought
he was addicted, they still didn't care. "How am I gonna get out
of here?" he whispered. He didn't just whisper though. He
asked. It was a question, and one might've thought that he fully
expected an answer from the darkness. Those were the first words
he said aloud in that attic that night. I swear, what a scene it
would have been to be in that attic, in the dark, even to just
hear those words, a man asking himself a question with two
obvious answers. But, as he had become keenly aware, nobody was
there to watch. Nobody was there to hear. But he was there to
He was ready to make his choice. If it were the only decisive
one he made all day, that would be fine by him. No one else
would know. It would be his secret. He would decide it. That's
why he was here. To decide.
He leaned back slightly. He'd kick the ladder forward. Kick it
with all his might. They'd be impressed at just how far he would
kick it. This got him thinking. He gained momentum in his mind.
He was more ready now than he had ever been, at the base of the
ladder, the first step, the second, the third; he finally felt
what he had hoped to feel. Prepared, excited almost, yes! -
Nearly giddy with excitement. He would spend his last moments
admiring the handiwork of his undoing in the form of the
incredible distance at which he could kick a chair. Never mind
that it would be too dark to see it.
So he leaned back some more. And he kicked.
Or so he thought. Actually, he looked to the side, away from the
planned trajectory of his chair. See, leaning back, he was hit
by a peculiar thing: light. He beheld a crack in a boarded
window, shining on an area no larger than occupied by his eyes at
this moment. And he looked, and he looked. And he saw.
Now I don't know what exactly Jeffery Marshall saw, but it
certainly wasn't a chair flying off into the blackness. I can
venture to guess thought. I think he saw everything. Everything
outside that room, you see, was light. Even the rest of this
house, it was light. And that light that was so powerful that it
penetrated even the dark he found in this attic; that he had
found everywhere. How could it be that the darkness he had found
everywhere, just moments ago, was gone. The dark, that which
hides everything, must be hiding! No. No, Jeffery Marshall
realized. For all its powers of concealment, there was nowhere
for it take shelter. It wasn't hiding. It was erased. If
anyone were there to see, I would think that they would have seen
Jeffery Marshall smile just a little. But no one was there to
see. But somehow, Jeffery Marshall didn't care either way. He
saw, but he didn't care.
So there he was, standing at the top of his ladder, unsure of
what he was to do next, exactly as he was afraid that he would
do. But he felt safer in that one moment, in the dark yet able
to see, with the noose he had made tied snugly around his neck,
than he had felt in a long time. Jeffery Marshall was no less
confused in that moment than the one before, but he was sure of
infinitely more. He knew what to do. Not now, but soon. His
friends would like it, they would like it, and he would hate that
they all would like it, but he would rid himself of the primary
of his troubles. He would get off of it. Yes, that's what he
would do now, too. He would get off this path to his doom.
He shuffled his feet back, as if preparing to take that fateful
step down. And just as he was about to, more likely just as he
did, he heard something. It was the only thing our hypothetical
spectator could have heard excepting Jeffery Marshall's question.
The rain. It had rained long and hard that night. Funny,
Jeffery Marshall thought that it had really set the mood for his
deed. Maybe even was why he chose this night, above any other.
'See' he thought 'No real sense to it at all'. He chuckled a
little. As he did, his boots, having been covered by the same
rain, which gave him such amusement, gave way. He slipped, and
fell off his ladder. This made him giggle all the louder. I
don't know how, considering the force the noose, still wrapped
around his neck, must have exerted on his vocal chords when
gravity pulled him down, but he continued in his merriment. He
hung, he swayed, he kicked a little, but I don't think he
He may have though. While I don't believe the tale of Jeffery
Marshall's death to be one of great comedic value, if there is
some to be found, it seems to me that Jeffery Marshall would be
able to see it. Perhaps, perhaps a source of great laughter,
perhaps around a fire, or in the form of some children's tale, is
there in the story of Jeffery Marshall. Perhaps it's just hidden
in its darkness.
"This boat is sinking, there's no sea left for me. And
how the sky gets heavy, when you are underneath it."