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Archive Written by  CLAUDE MILLS Sunday, 18 August 2013 06:28 font size decrease font size increase font size 0
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MY LAST CONVERSATION WITH PETER WATSON When I close my eyes, I still see the purple-black rotting flesh of my former tenant Peter Watson, the flies buzzing around as they conducted landing and take off operations on his bloated body, and the stench, oh the stench. It seemed to profane the nostrils, like like a living thing in the air, getting into your clothes, your hair, staining your skin....
The late Mr. Watson had been married to the late Dr. Heather Little-White, who had passed on earlier this year. The widower is yet another statistic of the phenomenon of ‘ senior suicide’ that plays out all over the world as senior citizens live longer with chronic illnesses.
It was a grisly scene, one could see that he had attached electrical chord to a TV mount in the bedroom and wrapped the coils around his neck, then seated himself on a cheap plastic chair, and then performed the coup de grâce by pushing the chair away to leave himself in some weird sort of suspended animation, and one could imagine his legs pistoning wildly against the floor as he choked until his neck finally snapped. Ghastly stuff, really.
My first reaction to his death was “why did this man choose to end his life in my house?’, but when I got over the shock of the news, I mourned for a man, a fellow human being who had allowed the black wave of depression to fold over him, suffocating all reason till he could only choose to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract with life -- an all too familiar motif on our island.
I keep kicking myself, playing it over in my mind that I must have known something like this could have happened. A week ago, I had called him to enquire about the rent when he burst into a rain of frightened tears, revealing that he was in dire financial straits, but that he could get no assistance from anyone and how a close family friend had disrespected him. I offered him the usual platitudes, and told him everything would be OK.
My last conversation with Peter Watson had carried no hint of the sinister actions that would play out only a few days later. He sounded resigned. He owed me the better part of a month’s rent, and before I could even argue, quickly suggested that I give him notice. I agreed. He had requested that I give him two weeks to vacate the property and I had countered that he should make that a week so that I could ready the property to hit the market. He promised to do what he could.
Then he segued into more pleasant matters and resumed the old familiar pattern of our regular talks. He kept calling me ‘Paul’, asking if I had started writing my book yet, I told him no, and then he wished me the best on my marriage, and implored me to enjoy my moments with my wife and kids because it all could be taken away too soon. I promised I would. Days later, I had called his cell phones persistently all week to check in with him, but they were off. I sent him a few texts. Still no response. My neighbour first picked up the cloying scent of death on Saturday morning as she did her laundry. At first, she suspected that it was a dead rat until she saw a squadron of flies encamped outside the bathroom window. She immediately notified a police officer who jumped the wall and pulled away the bedroom curtains to see the grisly scene.
By the time I got to Torino Drive in Angels Estate II, a decent-sized crowd had gathered on the perimeter of yellow crime scene tape, eager to glean news of his horrible death. A police car was parked close to the house, its roof rack of blue lights spinning silently in the bleak afternoon light. It was just like the dozens of crime scenes I had seen over the years, only this time, the details were a little more intimate. I play the scenes over and over in my head, trying to think of some great earth-shattering, life-changing nugget of information that I can apply to my own life. I couldn’t come up with one.
However, I will leave you with my TLC philosophy that I apply to my own life everyday.
First, during the course of each day, designate at least 20 minutes to think rationally about your life, and to contemplate beauty or art in any form. Secondly, laugh. Secondly, each day, find something to make you laugh, not the artificial ha-ha laughter of cocktail parties, but the rich belly-hugging mahogany laughter that comes from deep inside your bowels. Search for those moments that leave you breathless with laughter, with the tears streaming from your eyes, and your stomach muscles weak from all that exertion.
And lastly, cry. Seek a human connection with someone less fortunate than you. Read a well-written book, a sad poem, or listen to some snatch of pop, jazz or classical music, the meaning is no matter, as long as it moves your soul to beautiful tears. The bad times wake you up to the good times that you may be missing.
Just do your damndest to try to forget the dusty piece of hell that Jamaica has become where people are eager to sell their shrivelled raisin souls for a dollar, a curious place where too many people seem to have that weird neurological disorder of dying on the brain. Enjoy ever second of your silly little life. This may just be as good as it gets.
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