He read my previous posts. He understood he required assistance. He could go to Google or a doctor or even a crime novel, but he didn’t. He went to me. He commented on one of my posts. He posted his own work in hopes that I would read it. I did. It was interesting. I followed him. He followed me. He said he was a retired English teacher and could give me some pointers on grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I said I was a current college instructor and high school teacher in math, chemistry, and physics. He didn’t care. I asked why. He wanted to know about when I was firefighter and cleaned crime scenes. Many people who meet me eventually want to hear a story, so I gave him one. Then another. Then another. He had an insatiable desire for details. He wanted to know how the people died and if they suffered. He wanted to know how I felt, how I reacted, and how I responded. Almost vicarious, his inquiries about my work became more frequent but not puzzling. I knew his objective. I researched his life. A small payment to a small custodian at a small company and I have all the questions to the answers he never would divulge.
He wanted to die, but he wanted to die in a very specific way.
So, under the auspices of research, I gave him what he wanted. I encountered two previous incidents involving two different people with the same problem who did not want to create additional problems for their friends or family. I didn’t tell him this, I wrote it, and he read it. Even so, I swore I heard his smile grow from ear to ear. His brief reply was, “This is it”. The next day, I posted the details (equipment, procedures, and timing) and he responded with a simple, “Thank you”.
I found his obituary in his hometown newspaper within a week.
I feel neither remorse for him nor guilt for my actions.
The police asked me to sign my statement after I reviewed it for accuracy.
I might have, but that was their job, not mine.
With degrees in Physics and Chemistry, Andy Betz has tutored and taught in excess of 30 years. His novel (The Lady in Red Quilt), his short stories (“If Revenge is What You Seek,” “To Tell or Not to Tell,” “The Copy,” “Kelly”, “My Color,” and “Mrs. Zeeman”), and his poems (“Soon,” “When I Was 10,” and “I Watched the Ocean”) are works still defining his style. He lives in 1974, has been married for 26 years, and collects occupations (the current tally is 95).