A Conversation About Dark Places

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
Even in a peaceful village, people find there are dark places with no escape.

Submitted: May 19, 2017

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Submitted: May 19, 2017

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Albert had an excess of cabbages because they all were ready at once, close to going to seed, so he popped a couple in his car and drove down to Henry’s place to deliver them.

‘I’m grateful,’ Henry smiled, ‘but two of us’ll struggle to get through even half of one of those whoppers! We’ll end up looking like bloody cabbages!’

‘Well give one away.’ Albert suggested. ‘Take one into town for one of your cobbers.’

‘Yeah, we’ll give them to someone.’ Replied Henry smiling. ‘I have to go in town tomorrow to see Alf. He’s in a pensioner flat now.’

 

The pair walked around Henry’s trees before they went inside for a coffee and ginger nut, Albert was partial to ginger nuts and took two. ‘Dunkers.’ He said.

‘How’s young Wendy doing?’ Henry was always interested to know because she was Albert’s niece and had worked for Henry at the nursery for three years running during her Christmas holidays.

‘Matter of fact she rang yesterday.’ Albert replied with a frown. ‘I dunno if you call it “workplace bullying” or what but she sounded bit sad.’

‘What’s wrong?’ Henry was concerned because Wendy was always bright and a pleasure to have around.

‘A young woman has just bought the practice but she’s useless with people.’ Albert replied. ‘Wendy greets her in the morning, but gets no reply, and it’s the same at night, Wendy as usual says, “Goodnight.” but the boss bloody ignores her after working together all day!’

‘Sending her to Coventry.’ Henry frowned. ‘Bitch!’ He added.

‘Well sort of,’ replied Albert, ‘she said it makes her feel unvalued. Then she added the comment: When young people are treated like that, it’s no wonder the harm themselves!’

‘Is she ok?’ Henry asked concerned. ‘That’s a worrying thing to say, especially in this day an’ age!’

‘I know,’ Albert replied, ‘we all keep geein’ her up and she takes her aggression out in the gym, she says. She said she was only making a random comment.’

Albert had another ginger nut and it started to rain, so Henry put the kettle on again.

‘I’ll never forget about Barry.’ Wendy had given Henry something to think about. ‘I still reckon I could have stopped him!’

‘Barry?’ Albert didn’t know.

‘Oh, sorry, Barry Murphy.’ Henry explained. ‘He used to store spuds in the old shed at the nursery. Nearly every day he would call in either to take or put spuds there. Well one morning he seemed so odd, sort of vague. So much so I rang my Boss’s wife who was cobbery with Barry’s missus to see if he was ok. She rang straight away and his missus said he was fine just a lot on his mind. He didn’t turn up for morning smoko, so she went out to find him in the shed hanging there. She called me over, I wasn’t sure what to do, but he was dead alright, choked on the end of baling twine!’

‘Choked!’ Albert was stunned. ‘Not a good way to go!’

‘Yeah, I knew in the back of my mind he wasn’t right.’ Said Henry. ‘Someone just needed to keep a watch on him. Poor bugger!’  

 

‘Remember Kevin what’s-his-name?’ Albert asked after a brief silence.

‘Yeah, Waddle, no, Wardell. That’s it.’ Henry replied. ‘Never forget that day!’

‘I remember you coming back to the office to call the cops.’ Albert said seriously. It was true. Up in the forest there was a car parked on the side of the road covered in morning dew, so Henry knew it had been there all night. He wiped the dew off the windscreen to see what was inside and there was the suicide note!

‘I wasn’t going to go into the bush to find him.’ Henry said, ‘But the cop wanted me to go in with him. Shot himself with a .270! Blew his head to bits really. Mustn’t have been able to reach the trigger, so cut a stick to fit!’

‘Yeah, I remember you saying.’ Albert muttered.

‘Worst part was after the undertaker had taken him away, I saw a hawk circling around the bits that were left behind. He’d done some dodgy deal that didn’t come off, eh.’

‘When you think about it,’ Albert said, ‘there’s been a few in our area.’

‘Incredible!’ Henry replied, ‘draw a circle around here, say a two mile radius and count them. For a start there’s that guy who built on that section of Cliff’s. Gassed himself sitting in his car on a sunny day! That’s another one I reported! Nobody knows why he did it!’

‘There were the Robertson boys too!’ Albert remembered. ‘Can’t remember their Christian names.’

‘Nor me.’ Replied Henry.

‘One shot the other,’ Albert went on as if Henry didn’t know, ‘it was an accident and the first brother thought he had killed the second one! The first shot himself dead through sorrow or fear, but the second one survived. Tragic as it can get!’

‘There was Percy’s nephew,’ Henry remembered, ‘he drove over a bluff after his girlfriend ditched him!’ Albert nodded. ‘Then that bugger from Christchurch. The cops chased him all the way down here, his car ran out of petrol right here, at the end of the road, he took off with a rifle. The road was closed and I couldn’t get home, but he shot himself less than half a mile from the house.’

‘Yeah,’ recalled Albert, ‘I’d forgotten about him. What had he done?’

‘Dunno.’ Replied Henry. ‘But with a rifle, you don’t know that these buggers are going to do!’

 

The rain stopped, so Albert headed off back home. Henry kept on with his chores. He recalled they had forgotten the most recent one: a neighbour from not a mile away drove into the path of an oncoming sheep truck and was killed instantly. When the police went to give the news to his wife, they found that he had shot her dead!

 

****

These events were true, names made up.

The mind can take us into dark, lonely places stimulated by events around us. Sometimes, self-harm seems the only option. Bullying plays a considerable role in taking people to those dark, dreadful places and bullies can be corporates, bosses, those with authority, enemies, friends, husbands, wives, children, and more – even countries. They take power that is not rightfully theirs to take, either have no idea what that power can do or don’t care, so misuse it. Hopelessness crawls like Gollum from those dark horrible places! The important thing is that there is help out there and nobody should have to face their demons alone. Everyone: watch out for the signs, you may have the opportunity to save a life. And to the bullies out there: get your act together, you’re not as clever as you think!

In New Zealand, we have Suicide Crisis Helpline 0800 543 354 and Depression Helpline 0800 11 757. If you wish to add your country's information, just put it in the comments.

 

 


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