Tuesday, March 22, 2011


As soon I pulled into my driveway, I knew something was terribly wrong. Instead of seeing a smile on Eddy’s face and a hand in the air waving me over for a cold beer, he was frowning and held a pistol to his head.
          I slammed on the brakes, jumped out of the car, and ran toward him.
“Don’t do it, Eddy!”
Tackling him before he could pull the trigger, I yanked the gun from his hand and tossed it in the shrubbery. Since Eddy hadn’t trimmed them in the four years he and Darla had lived next door to me, I figured it would take a backhoe and four chainsaws to get to the gun, buying me enough time to get him into therapy.
“Why did you do that?” he said, getting up from the ground and brushing grass clippings off his shorts.
Placing my hand on his shoulder, I said, “Eddy, I'm going to do whatever I can to help you.”
He gazed at me. Lines formed between his eyebrows. “Okay, you can start by helping me find my air pistol.”
“Air pistol?”
Why would anyone, in their right mind, attempt to kill themselves with a B-B gun? Only Eddy could answer that question. I waited for his response.
“That’s right.”
Maybe he didn’t know a B-B gun didn’t have enough muzzle velocity. “You can’t penetrate a skull with a B-B gun.”
“That’s what I tried to tell Darla, but she insisted I use an air pistol. You know how she is about not wanting to see blood and stuff.”
I knew they’d been having financial problems since they spent all their money on a Florida vacation, but I had no idea Darla would willingly let Eddy shoot himself in the head, even if it was only an air pistol.
I motioned toward my back porch and said, “I suggest we leave the gun in the bushes until we’ve had a couple of beers and talk this thing over.”
Eddy looked at the thicket. Realizing it was hopeless, he shook his head. “Man, you must have had a bad day. I hope a couple of beers can pull you out of your slump.”
Like I was the one, who had the problem. Denial is the first sign of depression. I think.
After we opened our second beers, I decided it was time to probe Eddy’s mind. I wanted to find out why he was so depressed. I had taken almost a full semester of psychology 101 in college. Therefore, I had an inkling of the kinds of questions to ask a depressed person. I honed in on the most likely reason a twenty-two-year-old man would try to kill himself with a B-B gun.
“So, Eddy, how’s your sex life?”
“Regular as clockwork except on weekends. We pick it up a little bit then, if you know what I mean.”
I knew what he meant. Eddy and Darla started dating in the eighth grade. They married right out of high school. Said they couldn’t wait any longer. Obviously, my first guess had missed the mark.
If the problem wasn’t sex, what else could it be? Bingo. I recalled there was one other reason for depression. I fired my next question at him. 
“Financial problems can be solved by hard work and staying on budget. What do think about that as a solution?”
Eddy threw his empty beer bottle in the recycle bin I kept on the back porch. It bumped against the plastic side until it found the bottom of the container. He was putting them down fast. Another clear sign of depression.
“I’m not too keen on it so far,” he said reaching for his third beer. “When I handed Darla my check last week, she looked at it, rolled her eyes and said if we stayed on budget, we’d be out of debt by the time we were old enough to draw Social Security.”
Bull’s Eye. I adjusted my sights and addressed the target with my next statement. “Life insurance can’t take the place of a good man.”
After running his hand though his hair, Eddy said, “Who can afford life insurance these days?”
The target appeared to be wobbling. I needed to get to the heart of Eddy’s depression, fast. Trying to recall what I learned in psychology class, before I had to withdraw with an incomplete, I opened my third beer and turned it up. That’s when my memory kicked in at full force. The person who had used the textbook before me had written a keen observation in the margin. If all else fails, there is one question that demands a direct response from the depressee. I decided to try it, fully expecting Eddy to tear up and tell me all about his problems.
“Why on earth would you put that gun to your head, Eddy?”
Without even a hint of a tear, he said, “I was listening for an air leak.”
“Air leak?”
“Yep, it wasn't shooting like it used to. When THE B-Bs bounced off a squirrel trying to tear a hole in our roof, I knew there had to be a leak somewhere. Most likely the seal in the barrel is dried out. A little oil might fix it."
With great relief, I pulled the last two beers from the cooler. “So Eddy, what’s Darla’s dinner plans for tonight?”
He frowned. “According to our new budget, she told me it’s going to be pork and beans, and one slice of bread."
That menu might get a little old by the time they're drawing social security.
He leaned back in the Adirondack chair and said, "You and Linda are welcome to come over and eat with us.”
The way he said it, I knew Eddy wasn’t joking. My young neighbors were willing to share what they had, even on their tight budget.
I handed the beer to him. “That's very kind of you to offer, but I’m cooking rib eye steaks and baked potatoes. We were hoping you and Darla would come over to our house for dinner tonight. Assuming, of course, you didn’t have your hearts set on pork and beans.”
I saw a hint of a tear in Eddy’s eye, first time ever. Maybe he had been a little depressed after all. Good thing I took that psychology course.

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