I have two bottles of liquor in my backpack. One is a very good single malt scotch. The other, a cheap bottle of vodka. They're not a full fifth. About a pint each. Unopened. Untouched.
With my hiking back strapped to my back, and when the din of the road has quieted, you can hear the liquid slosh against the containers, one glass, one plastic. I have heard them almost every evening for the past three years.
They're there to remind me of my final decision, the final choice that I am just about to make.
Whether I live or I die.
Instead of dramatics, let me say if you're reading this, then my decision was made. I've likely opened the bottle of vodka, found a quiet, relatively peaceful perch against a tree somewhere hard to see beyond the blacktop of America's highways, and drank the clear liquor down while swallowing pill after pill of Nembutal. Within a half hour, I will be a corpse. I'm guessing my body won't be discovered until after I'm bones, which will likely give me the most serious attention anyone has paid me in years when the police find them.
The scotch I carried with me for celebration, a toast to victory if I managed to scrap through this tribulation. That's not going to happen now. After this last employment rejection (the big one, the real one, the one that would've changed my life finally), I have come to the conclusion that Darwin is indeed right. And I am just not strong enough, desirable enough... well, enough of anything of substance, to justify surviving this world after 38 years.
Maybe I'm an attention whore. But I've been alone for so long, it's hard to justify that. Instead, I want to offer you a picture of a life that has led to this. I'm not going to justify my actions, my behavior. I just want to depart this world with my short, brief manifesto that a few of you may read.
Perhaps that's the best I can offer this world. Because everything else was a miserable failure.
I lost my last steady job in 2007, a career earning close to $300 grand a year on average (sometimes a helluva lot more). Before that, I bought up on the American Dream, using credit to fill in the gaps. Overvalued house in a gated community. Three-year lease on a new Mercedes whose monthly payment equaled the some people's house payment. And all the other cushions of pretend wealth: Private schools for my two step children; a gorgeous trophy wife who epitomized being a lady in public and a whore in bed; accolades and philanthropic awards to everyone one else could wish to be me.
I don't need to get into the details, but suffice to say the spiral was quick, dramatic and all-consuming. Soon after losing my job and my license for insider trading (while I am guilty of, was doing nothing different than anyone else, and was only caught because the nature of office politics hung me out to dry), my wife divorced me for our neighbor, who left his wife soon after being traded by one major league team for another in another city. She took the house and promptly sold it for 40% what I paid for it. Then she entirely wrote the children out of my life with the help of her high-priced lawyer.
Within a year, I was facing the biggest fall anyone could imagine: Penniless and homeless. At that time, I still clung to wisps of New Agey positive thinking so rampant among the true ignorant. I metaphorically dusted off my pants and saw this as an opportunity to start over in life, reset from the very beginning.
With that, I had my eyes set on Los Angeles. I don't know why, in particular. Maybe I romanticized the studio system would like my investment and business acumen enough to hire me. Maybe I was hoping to find a trophy replacement for Bethany who would light up the silver screen and tote me along red carpets from here to Cannes.
Regardless, I have never and will never make it that far.
My plan was to hike from New England to California with everything left after the bankruptcy strapped to my back in an oversized Eddie Bauer hiking pack. Strangely, it was the one thing I actually accomplished correctly. I had emergency food, various changes of clothes, a Teflon-coated compact camping tent, blankets, a jacket, and a stash of nearly $30k in cash ... crumbs of what I accumulated in my former life.
And I struck out for California on March 27, 2008, now four years to the very day that I write this. Along the way, I did what I could to earn a little money, staying in small towns and cities (mainly in the woods) for as little as a day to as long as four months, working whatever odd jobs I could muster. I even landed a marketing job with an insurance company in St. Louis that was paying me close to $100,000 a year. I almost opened the bottle of scotch for that job. But I didn't even get a paycheck.
On the third day of work, I walked to the office (I was sleeping at a nearby hostel at the time) to find the doors locked and a perfunctory sign on the door from the FBI warning trespassers away.
"Curious about something?" a voice registered behind me. I turned, and saw a man in a nondescript navy suit, white collared shirt and dark glasses. I almost laughed at how cliche' he appeared. He did not return the smile.
"I worked here," I said finally.
"Ah, you must be Mr. Glen XXXXXXXXX," the agent commented, glancing at a manila folder like he was checking the lineup for a baseball team. "Today's your lucky day, Glen. You were hired three days ago, right?"
"Well, that pretty much absolves you of any guilt in the situation," he turned back to his car. "It seems the owners were running a Ponzi scheme that collapsed. If you don't mind, I need to give you some forms to fill out and make a statement. Unfortunately, you'll be needing to find a new job."
By 8 that night, I passed the city limits of St. Louis, taking up an offer from one kind trucker to hitch with him to Kansas City.
It's not like I wasn't looking for meaningful, valid employment through all of this. I realized, without my broker license, I wouldn't make the money I was in my heyday. But I thought I had a lot of skills. Turns out, without that, I was nothing. Just enough to fumble through a day painting porches, cleaning cars and even once giving a long-haul truck driver a handjob for $100.
By the time I neared Wyoming, any sunshine left in my outlook on life had collapsed into a numbing black hole. And my mind was made up.
Through an old contact at the SEC, I found there was a way to maybe get a reconsideration on my trading license. If that came through, then I would have a job lined up with a real estate investor in LA making decent money again. After reading that email, I made Casper my home for a month to work through this, camping out behind a secluded public library at night, showering under a hose at a nearby business park well before dawn, and working on the library's free computers. It was then I purchased the two bottles of liquor.
On Feb. 28, I got the news: The SEC was not going to reconsider my license. With that, the potential job disappeared. Any chance at a life, at this point, was over.
I was...without being too melodramatic...the Walking Dead. I was the person everyone sees on the sides of roads and with whom does his or her best to avoid eye contact. Now literally penniless, I relied on compassion from motorists off highway exists for spare change. I knew what they thought, I could see it in their eyes, and even heard it uttered once, "Buy food instead of drugs, you loser!"
I existed like this for another couple of weeks, pretending that I was still heading for LA, but inside, that voice grew louder and louder. "Take the pills, chummo." You'd all be shocked at how easy it is to order a lethal amount of Nembutal from overseas. It shipped to a post office box I rented for a month in under five days.
There's a lot more to my story. Like I said earlier, I'm not justifying my actions, my decision. I only hope to leave this as my tombstone to the world.
I am signing off now from the library. I found a really nice copse of pines and broadleaf off the side of the highway. If you go deep enough into the woods, you will find a tree edging the other side, perched on a small grassy hill with a beautiful view of an empty, lonely valley. That's the best gift the world has given me lately, a quiet place to drink my vodka.
Everyone else on here, keep on keepin' on. As for me, I bid adieu. -- Glen XXXXXXXXX, March 27, 2012.