August 18th, 2000
It was a Friday. Colin had been gone for the second week in a row, working out of town. I went to work like I always did, anxious to get started on the day and keep busy until the afternoon when he was due in. I wanted to pick him up from the airport but he took a cab home. He paged me when he got home, and I left the office at about 4:30.
We were headed into our annual vacation; he was home for good, and after we spent a much-needed weekend together, avoiding the rest of the world, we were going to pack our dusty old van full of gear and head to the desert for a week of partying and playing in the sun. Some weeks previous, we talked about smoking pot during our vacation. It was going to be a once in a while thing for us. We felt we had moved past addicted behaviour, that we could handle a joint or two while on vacation (Burning Man, after all - one need not be loaded to enjoy it, but why not enhance the experience, eh?). We were grown-up, smart, capable, goal-oriented, sophisticated people, and we could smoke a joint if we wanted, right? I knew a guy who smoked occasionally, and bought some pot from him.
That afternoon we changed into comfortable clothes, sat facing each other on our bed, and got high together for the first time. It had been a long time for both of us; aside from the extreme alcohol consumption, neither of us had used any other drug in what seemed like forever at the time.
Almost immediately Colin became melancholy. Not mellow, but melancholy. He had his "honey, I have to tell you something" face on. I didn't realize it then, but after years of replaying the scene in my head, that's what I remember. He was wearing his confessional face, but I couldn't get him to tell me what was wrong.
We built a fire in the fireplace; despite being mid-August, it had been cold and rainy that day. We sat in the living room and tried to talk to each other. We couldn't talk, and he looked miserable. I wasn't enjoying myself at all, and I felt cheated. I had overpaid for this pot and it was quite possibly the best marijuana I'd ever had my hands on, and I was upset that I wasn't enjoying the experience.
The doorbell rang; we ignored it but the person on the other side wasn't leaving. Colin answered, signed for a Fed-Ex package addressed to me. I couldn't open it, couldn't make my hands work. It left me giggling madly, my inability to make my hands stop flapping around like useless, pale things. Colin helped me, tearing the package open to reveal a video tape in a white box with a window showing the label on the tape. The label was white with black typing, in a simple font. The video looked odd, like how pornographic movies come, all non-descript and plain looking. The writing on the label said "do not rewind, tape is self-erasing".
Colin stared at it for what seemed like hours, turning it over and over in his hands. He was saying something, repeating a phrase over and over. I can't remember the phrase now. It bothers me that I can't remember it, can't bring those words to mind. They frightened me, shook my world up, rattled my cage and made me want to scream.
I begged him to stop talking, to ignore the tape; I wanted to burn it, throw it into the fireplace and forget it ever came. We'd make some coffee, get our heads clear and never smoke pot again. We were stupid, complete morons to have done this thing and I was so sorry I'd followed through with it.
He wouldn't stop talking, wouldn't cease his mindless rocking back and forth and repeating his maddening phrase; I asked him if he was fucking with me, trying to make me paranoid. He looked me in the eye for the first time since we'd gotten high and simply said, "yes". His eyes were filled with tears and anguish; he stood up and walked towards the hallway. He was headed into our home office, the room where we had all our computers. Half-way there he changed his mind and veered into our bedroom.
I followed him, wanting to help him, wanting to understand what he meant and find out why he was acting so strangely. When I got to our bedroom he had his gun, a .357 S&W long-barrel revolver, in his hand and was staring at me. I don't remember what I said or what I thought. I was screaming though, mindless words that didn't penetrate whatever was happening inside his head. He turned away, and fired into the wall twice. Then he turned back to me and shot himself in his right temple.
I was twenty-two years old, and my world broke apart for a little while.