I was working for Dallas Children's Theatre as a crew hand and Mom called up asking after me. I had to call her back and she told me she had some bad news.
"Mr. Jacobs shot himself this weekend."
Mr. Jacobs was my friend Iris' dad. I had met Iris in high school and had several writing classes with her. She graduated much higher in the class than I did and went to Austin college--an Ivy League school in Sherman, Texas. Iris is the answer to "Where do little old ladies come from?" and to this day lives by herself with her cats. I hated her dad--he was a complete dick.
"Oh, jeez. Is he okay?"
"No, Mila. He's dead."
Mr. Jacobs and Mrs. Olga Jacobs were busy finalizing the paper work on their divorce. Iris and her brother Tony had to live with Mr. Jacobs because Iris was 18 and Olga couldn't afford to keep the kids even with the child support. Olga was living in a pretty dingy apartment down in Lakewood and Mom thought we should take some tuna casserole over to the widow (ex-wife? Ex-widow?). "Olga isn't going to want to cook."
Olga didn't want to cook. The poor woman was absolutely distraught. John's bother had shown up as was asking for the gun, the funeral was going to cost a pretty penny and the Catholic Church might not allow a proper funeral because it was a suicide, and she needed "to find a maid service for the room." There are businesses built around cleaning things like this. Most maid services won't touch it, and when they do it's very expensive.
I was young, I was stupid; I wanted to be nice and I was ghoulishly curious. "Oh, we can do that."
Mom played it off like I had never said it, but the next day we were in that room.... cleaning up. I had been so nervous the night before. I thought I was going to be scraping everything above the hair-line off a wall with a putty scraper. It wasn't too bad of a mess, really.
Mr. Jacobs had stood to attention late Saturday night and shot himself in the right temple with a .22. The force threw him to his left, where he landed on the bed and slowly bled to death. After death, the remaining blood collected in his legs and the weight pulled his body off the bed and onto the floor. He laid there, ass in the air, until the following Tuesday when Olga let the police into the house. An employer had called to find out where he was and notified Olga, who had a key, who let the cops in.
There was no body smell; there was only an old blood smell--like dead fish. Most of the blood was on the bed and the salt had risen forming a crystalline shell on the bed-spread. The spot on the bedroom carpet was four inches square maybe--it wasn't much. Mom found a bag of cleaning supplies in the corner of the room. Mr. Jacobs had bought them before hand--everything a person would need: gloves, carpet cleaner, disinfectant, brushes and such.
"Wasn't that considerate of him?" I remarked.
"If he had wanted to be considerate, " Mom replied, "he would have shot himself in the backyard. Then we could have hosed it down."
I set to work getting papers and clothes out of the room as Mom scrubbed the spot on the floor. I remember her holding out a gloved finger with a tiny, beige, convex triangle and asking, "Mila, what's this?"
"It's skull, Mom. You found some skull." And then watching her flick it into a trash bag.
Mom got tired of scrubbing the same section of floor and with an announcement of, "Screw this! This carpet is shot anyway!" she grabbed some shears and cut about three feet square out of the carpet. The blood had gone through the carpet and carpet mat, and then through some strange reverse wicking mechanism, hit the hard-wood floor and spread. It had congealed under the mat and looked like a giant blood-waffle. Mom scraped it up with a putty knife and it came up in sloppy ribbons.
It came time to get the bed-sheets, mattress-cover and carpet pieces out of the room. Olga only had clear plastic trash bags and we send her on a bullshit errand while I snuck the bags out back to the trash. The back-yard neighbor was out watering her plants.
"Is that blood?"
"That isn't safe. I'll report you to the neighborhood board."
"The only person who would care would be Mr. Jacobs--and he's dead."
And I went back inside. The cops showed up later and we explained what was going on. I don't know if the incident was ever reported to the neighborhood board or not.
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