There are a lot of ways to attempt suicide, like a lot of years ago I walked deep into a black Philadelphia ghetto at two in the morning. It was a hot summer night, and people were out on their porches and congregating on street corners. I met a lot of eyes, and none of them had that “life is precious” look in them. They took a reading on me and then looked away, allowing me to become invisible.
After about an hour I came across a shabby hotel sandwiched in the middle of a block. I went inside. A heavy-set black man in an impeccable white suit sat behind metal mesh and bullet-proof glass. He glared at me and flicked on the intercom.
“Yes?” he said.
“Do you have any vacancies?” I asked.
“You got to be kidding,” he said, his amplified voice echoing off the paint-peeled walls and tile floor of the entryway.
There was no paperwork. We rode the freight elevator up to the second floor and he showed me into a room with no lock on the door.
“That’s $20,” he said. “Up front.”
I fished a twenty out of my wallet and handed it over.
He stuffed the twenty into his pocket, looked me hard in the eye and said, “Hey man, I don’t need no one killing themselves in my hotel.”
“No problem,” I said.
The next morning I woke up still fully dressed on a cot with sunlight streaming thru the shadeless window and a cleaning lady mopping the floor.
“Get your sorry white ass out of that bed so’s I can finish my work,” she said.
And I did.