Excerpt taken from Chapter 8 – Northern Pacific Ocean:
By 1999 I was a handsome young man. I was now 28 years old, a passionate workaholic who could inspire as much as exasperate.
I still sped through life and work like a Duracell bunny on crack. Rudolf’s life on the other hand had slowed down to a crawl. His disability pension enabled him to have breakfast all day. Christmas that year I came home on Boxing Day after a grueling fifteen-hour workday at Metropolis. Rudolf had one major passion – Christmas trees. He started decorating up to a dozen pine trees every early November, distributing them like a magical forest throughout our entire apartment. As I opened our front door that fateful night all I saw was destruction. The pine trees had crashed to the floor. Shards of broken Christmas tree ornaments covered our carpets. On second glance my heart twisted. Drops of a thick, dark, red substance covered much of the debris.
I found Rudolf in his room. He was covered in blood, and completely unresponsive. His face rested in a big pool of what looked like half-digested pizza. Against all better judgment I decided to shake him awake instead of calling emergency services immediately. Rudolf was in a daze but begged me to not call an ambulance. He was terrified his psychiatrist would admit him into a psychiatric clinic. Even though he passed out again I respected his wishes. I was his friend and he had saved me years earlier. I sat next to him all night, checking his pulse every now and then to make sure he didn’t quietly slip out on me.
The next morning Rudolf woke up refreshed. After cleaning up most of the debris and bodily fluids we sat down for another extended breakfast. Rudolf explained to me that alone at home he had been hit by a deep Christmas depression and decided to end his life. He had swallowed fifty sleeping pills and helped himself to a few bottles of wine. Instead of blissfully drifting away into nothingness as he had hoped, he had gotten violently ill. He had fallen over multiple times, crashed into Christmas trees, and cut himself on ornament shards. He had collapsed on his mattress unable to move, still bleeding and throwing up. Rudolf had fallen into a deep sleep, coming to for just an instant when I shook him awake, then again submerging into a deep dreamless sleep from which he awakened unscathed.
Rudolf looked at me and braced himself for whatever I would have to say. Instead of giving him a big speech I told him the simple truth of how happy I was that he was still here with me.