Why you should care

Because death, like love, can always surprise you.

She was like a cat: smooth moves, flexible and a tendency to always land on her feet. Most strippers have exactly that, and she wasn’t an exception. I told my friend who was dating her that, because the first time I saw her, I knew right away he was a goner. Too much in love with the way she laughed and carried herself and, yes, she was stunning, so my opinion didn’t affect their relationship.

After a few years, though, she packed her things and left my middle-aged friend with a standard salary for a richer man with a much greater one.

One morning around 2 am he called me.

“I’ve just drunk one bottle of cognac in three sips and plan to drink another one in three minutes,” he said. “And I’m heading to your house.”

I told him to wait until the morning. He agreed with me. But in an hour he was on my doorstep. October was about to end, and all I really wanted to do was sleep.

All I can see now is the blood on the car where he was sitting. On my hands. On his face. Everywhere.

I had three jobs and only a few hours for my head to touch the pillow. I was working three jobs because my parents were getting divorced and I wanted to send my mother to Europe. I’d also heard India was a very nice place to gather the scattered pieces of a broken heart. Anyhow, I was tired, but I pulled myself together and went outside.

My friend was sitting on someone else’s car and holding a bottle of liquor. As soon as he saw me, he started to scream, something about how life isn’t fair and that everything goes to complete shit. At that moment, I could barely stand, so my plan was to cut through all of his drunken nonsense and put him to sleep, to let him take the counsel of a cool pillow.

But instead I just stood there. He really loved her. They both tattooed rings on their fingers. Misha even took several loans from different banks to buy everything they needed for their wedding. But he couldn’t pay the money back and was overdue on his payments.

So he did what he thought made the most sense to do just then: He broke a glass bottle and started to stab himself, repeatedly, in the throat.

I grabbed his hand and tried to twist the bottle away from him and toward me.

In Russia, we have a name for a broken glass bottle: rose. Misha unintentionally jabbed my hand a couple of times with it while we fought. He didn’t want to let go of it, but I twisted his wrist again. Right after that, he stabbed me in the chest.

He’s not a bad person, Misha. Matter of fact, I love him like he’s my brother. We never fought, except this one time.

All I could see was the blood on the car where he was sitting. On my hands. On his face. Everywhere.

Misha had a beard, and it was dark, so I couldn’t see his wounds. I finally wrestled the bottle from him and threw it as hard as I could into the night. All I could think about was the artery in his neck, which was where my fingers went after I took the bottle from him.

I felt warm blood on one side, so I figured that he hadn’t hit the artery. Not enough blood. I pushed him into my place and turned on a light to see what the hell we were dealing with. I was smiling, mostly because I was thinking it could have been worse, and whatever was happening was not that bad.

I put bandages on Misha. He really loved her. But she really loved money. All in all, he was all right, and he finally fell asleep on my couch. He was going to suffer even more when he woke up.

Later, right before Misha headed to India, where he still lives, he took a scalpel and cut off the tattoo. It healed nicely, I’ve heard.

But, you know, life isn’t fair and nobody promised any of us otherwise. So while we’re all slightly broken inside, and all have our breakdowns at times, nothing is certain until you’re six feet underground, and that’s exactly why this life is so astonishing.

Anyway, I’m actually glad that he picked me, out of all of his friends, to do this with, hoping to die on my watch. Most likely somewhere, deeply, subconsciously, I’d like to think that he knew I wouldn’t allow it because the only thing I know for sure is that everything that you do, you should do in full consideration of your own death.

So choose wisely.

OZYTrue Story

Good stories from around the globe. Essays and immersion, into the harrowing, the sweet, the surprising — the human.