Larry was thirty when he met Pamela. She was a redhead, with class and brains, and a temper. But Larry liked the temper. She wasn't a pushover. She was going somewhere, and at thirty -- if you're unmarried, and unfocused-- going somewhere is very important.
Thirty was when Larry felt that panic setting in. Thirty was the birthday when Larry cried on the phone to a friend (actually cried, which he hadn't done in years): "I'm thirty and I haven't done anything with my life," Larry said.
Pamela and Larry were married.
The coroner's report read that Lawrence Bond had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Cause of death was listed as suicide. The note was the problem. Thompson couldn't figure out what it meant ....
Since it was still schoolyard fight days, it was an open invitation for your worst enemy to beat on you, and bloody your nose -- if he could get away with it -- and Larry suffered through football.
In high school, it was coming together. He only had to hit guys from other towns, and a certain feral anger would fill Larry with adrenaline. And with his shoulder pads, and his arm-pads, and his taped wrists, he would spend a glorious Friday night kicking the bloody shit out of defensive lineman. Larry was voted allstate when he was a senior.
But it was a small school, and Larry's preparation wasn't that hot, so his entrance scores weren't very high, and he went to junior college nearby, and played football for a year before dropping out.
And then came an offer from his best friend to go partners with him in an auto repair shop, and Larry saved enough money to afford the State University.
Through four years of hard work, he acquired an engineering degree, and was recruited by a firm from California. He skidded for six years, taking his pay, buying furniture, a stereo, a car, a new car, and a sportscar. He discovered credit cards, social bars, and singles. There were a few torrid romances. Many casual ones, and no thoughts of marriage until he met Pamela.
The paper was crisp, ruled legal paper, hardly wrinkled or deformed from sweat or from nervous folding. In its own strange way, the note was a piece of art. But it was the words themselves that confused Thompson.
"Guess he must have had some kind of problems."
"His face is almost peaceful. You know, happy."
"What's left of it, at least."
There was only the lunch hour to work on this, now, since the case was essentially closed. Still, he had to sign the final report before accounting could cut a check to the widow. It was about a tenth of what it would have been, had Larry run his car over a cliff. Perhaps a fifth of what it would have been had Larry died of medical complications, an operation, or sudden illness. Still, the check would run five even figures, and should pay most of the outstanding estate debts.
Thank god there weren't any children, Thompson thought.
Her girlfriend didn't help. For three weeks, she had been living away from Larry. After the last time, it was too much. And then he had gone and put a pistol to his temple. Weak men committed suicide, Pamela thought. Larry was anything but a weak man.
"One less wife-beater in the world," she sighed. "Thank god."
He xeroxed the note though, and threw it in the wastepaper basket a week later. It read: "If I were a smaller man, I'd probably be alive today."
Identifiable markings and/or tattoos: None
_ from the Death Certificate
Larry really didn't either.