The car stops. The engine then lights shut off. The black Audi’s door rises. His well-polished shoes hit the slush he shuts the door. Michael’s steps carry him north, he left the car unlocked. He walks along the path away from Lake Shore Drive. The wind cut through his pants though he hardly noticed.
My little girl, tears continuing to stream, Why? What would make her think she could get away with it. Steve must have convinced her. Lucky bastard is locked up. I’d have him ended/ mutilated/ castrated/ strung up over bamboo, cut with a thousand razors then submerged in a margarita bath [Damn I want a Marg] I’d have his testicles put where his eyes are and vice versa.
A cold gust off Lake Michigan makes him sway. The lights sway in the distance as he swigs his flask of Glenfiddich 50 year. Damn wind. Damn Lu! He can’t just realize that kids are fucking dumb. I mean is that so much to ask? It was his fucking kid’s Idea. I told her, I told her nothing good is going to come of this. A Fuckin Flannery and a Mother Fuckin DiMaggio. She pled with me. On her fucking hands and knees. Lookin’ at me with those eyes. Oh, she has the most beautiful eyes. My baby got herself into some shit. Why did I say ‘Yes’? The fuck was I thinkin? Letting her date tha…
The snow on the path is slowly becoming ice. His shoes made for the streets of Rome or a board room lose traction. Back he falls. To his surprise, he is caught. Who the fuck is this guy? Where did he come from? How long has he been following me? Back on his feet, Michael turns to find Morgan his savior.
“The name is Morgan. That was quite a slip you had there.”
Michael studies Morgan’s face, “Yeah thanks for,” do I know a Morgan, “uh, catching me.” I swear I know him from somewhere.
“Heading anywhere particular, Mister?”
“You can call me Michael. And, I’m going to kill myself to save my daughter.” Why the fuck did I just tell him that?
“That seems like an interesting place, I’d like to see it if you don’t mind,” Morgan says calmly.
Who the fuck is this guy? “You want to watch me die?” Michael snaps.
“Oh no, not that. I want to see where it will happen. There is always something special about the place a man chooses to take his own life,” replies Morgan with a slight bow.
“So let me get this straight you just want to see where I’m going to kill myself. But, not watch me do it? What kind of sick shit are you into?” Michael asks with disgust.
“Nothing sick I can assure you that,” Morgan says followed by a sharp inhale, and deep exhale, “You are not the first person I have come across who was planning to kill himself. The one thing I have found true is there is always an ineffable beauty to the place where one takes their own life.”
Silence persists through the howling wind. Morgan asks, “Shall we?” gesturing down the cleared path.
Is he about to kill me? Does it count if he kills me? “It’s a free country. You can walk where you like.” Michael leads the way. As if I didn’t have enough on my mind I have this Beaner with a backpack following me. Hearing Morgan’s footsteps behind him, What a crock of bullshit ‘There’s a certain beauty where people off themselves.’ Fuck him.
“So, why are you going to do it?” asks Morgan as if asking why Michael is choosing short socks instead of long.
“What’s it to ya?” Michael fires back looking over his shoulder.
“To me, nothing. But to you, I assume, everything,” Morgan replies calmly.
“They have my daughter! Those Fuckin DiMaggio fucks have my little princess,” Michael says choking back tears. “I told her she could do better. That made her want him more. Now look at ‘em, his pussy ass is in jail. There’s 1 point 5 mil missing. And I’m the one left holding the fucking bag. The money was with his godforsaken half-wit of a son when he got pinched. Who raises a son that steals from his own father? And then gets caught by the fuckin’ pigs. But Nooo, that’s not even what That Prick cares about…” Michael’s steps slow, breaking down, “I..I was supposed to protect her. She was my world. I. I couldn’t.” Michael falls to his knees on the leaf covered path deep in a forest.
Placing his hand on Michael’s shoulder, “What options do you have?” Morgan asks.
Wiping his eyes and looking at the sun through the bare trees with a sense of calm acceptance Michael asks, “Where, are we?”
Stepping in front of him blocking the sun Morgan says, “Tell me your options, and I will tell you where we are.”
Looking up at Morgan, “I live, She dies.” Michael’s head drops, “I die, she lives.”
Beginning a slow circle around Michael, Morgan asks, “And so, are you ready to die?”
“No, I want another option!” Michaels sobs.
“Do you see another option?” asks Morgan. “The Police maybe? No, Vinny has half the city in his pocket. Fake your death? No, he’s told the coroner to do a DNA test if any John Does come in.” Continuing his circle, “Brute force? No, you don’t have enough men and his estate is a fortress. Maybe the FBI? But she’ll be killed before he gets taken into custody. You tried apologizing, but there’s no ‘I’m sorry’ big enough for getting a man’s father killed over turf. Are there any options I missed?”
Michael’s sob trickles down to a whimper, “No”
Morgan stops in front of Michael and asks, “So, are you going to kill yourself?”
Michael’s sobbing stops, “Y, yes.”
“You asked where we are. We are here,” Morgan looks around at the trees and takes in the serenity before continuing, “In the middle of Aokigahara forest in Japan. This forest has another name, Suicide Forest. People have come here for centuries to do what you are about to. The sun is setting. Isn’t it beautiful?”
Michael sitting back on his heels, wiping the tears from his face begins to register just how tranquil his surroundings are, “Yes it is.”
“This place is special. Your body dies and returns to Chicago. Your soul lives on to watch over Ashley. That is if you time it right. Your life must end with the last bit of light through the trees.”
“And if I miss that window?” asks Michael.
“Your body returns and your soul stops existing,” says Morgan as if telling Michael it was raining out from under his umbrella.
“Can I have a moment to think?” Michael asks rising to his feet.
“Take all the time you need you’ve got about 3 minutes to hit that window though. I’ll leave alone. If you are still alive after dark, I’ll take you back.”
Before Michael could speak, Morgan disappeared into the forest. Where the hell did he go? He can’t be serious! The sun is getting low. But, still, I must be hallucinating. He shot me up with something. He looks down at his watch, Two minutes, Fucking two minutes. Where’s my phone. Rifling through his pockets, found it. Full service! I have to tell her I love her.
He dials Ashley’s number, I have to tell her how much I love her. Straight to voicemail, “This is Ashley, I can’t take your call right now. So text me. K Bye.”
Hearing her voice Michaels has to fight through his tears to say, “Hey, Princess. It’s your dad in shining armor. I wish I could ride in and save you like when you were little,” choking back more tears while trying to sound stoic, “I just want you to know I love you.” The sunlight continues to fade. “You have always been my world. I know I could have been a better father and protected you. Don’t blame yourself. It is my fault this is happening. I, I’m almost out of time. But, I love you.”
He lowers the phone and raises his gun to his temple. Michaels hits end as the light begins to recede, “I love you,” he pulls the trigger. The mist is a dark pink as the last rays of light hit it. His body and phone fall on the icy path in the park.
Fifty meters away from the bang sits Morgan watching the darkness fade in. “Another breathtaking sunset,” he says between sips of tea from his thermos.