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 alone.
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
“We sell our dreams and our potential to escape through that buzz.”
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 answer.
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 noticed.
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.”
© Copyright 2016 Miles Felix. All rights reserved.