Billy and the eBay Caper: Conclusion
Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four
The next morning, Billy's life has appreciated to about twelve hundred dollars. Wonderful, but not unprecedented. He must be worth more than a goddamn bear, has to be. But by noon, there is almost no change, no more bidding. The price has peaked at $1245.95. No change, nothing since nine o’clock.
Two o’clock, nothing.
And four, and nothing.
Billy’s fifteen minutes are nearly expired, and the auction ends overnight. Fretfully, I drink my whiskey, wondering where I've gone wrong, retracing my path, looking for my misstep. I put my ear to the earth but hear no buffalo. My Tonto sense has abandoned me. My intuition has vanished. And The Price is Right has no answers. I retreat to the computer to pore over my work.
The clock ticks to five, and I can’t figure it out.
But at last, finally, I see my mistake. It is incredible. Wonderful! A glorious moment, really - knowing that you've made the biggest error of your life, but realizing you still have time to fix the problem. A warm spread of relief begins in my belly, prickling my skin and ending in my fingertips. I know I’ve got it this time.
Shortly, Billy comes home. Early - a good driver can finish his route off before the mandated shift turnover at six. And Billy, he's a good driver. It requires a lot of concentration to move that truck around. A lot of concentration, and no imagination. Imagination is bad, because trucks crash when the mind wanders. Billy is such an obtuse lackwit, I'd place bets on him being the best truck driver in the world. I'm ready for him with the camera again.
"More pictures?" Billy says. "Isn't the auction doing pretty good?"
"No, we have to do one more update before it closes. Keep it fresh. You know. Get in the chair again. Let's go."
Billy is still wearing his overalls from the truck, and he yanks them off in cranky gestures. "What a pain in the ass," he mutters. He has his usual Sally-Ann wardrobe on beneath, which will only improve the look of the shot. I tape the aquarium hose to his arm and cuff his hands to the chair. Tight.
"If we have to keep it fresh, why are we taking more pictures of me in the chair?" Billy says.
"Because, Billy. We're going to do something a little different this time." I slap a piece of duct tape over his mouth, and he huffs laughter through his nose. It's just like playing pirates.
I put down the camera, and then I pull the chef knife out of my back pocket. Billy snorts some more until he sees the look on my face. I'm trying, trying very hard not to laugh at his expression, because I'm going to need every amp of my available powers to concentrate on my next task. I step closer, glad that the floor in this room is cheap hardwood instead of carpet. Billy begins to squeal behind the tape, but I had given it a good hard press to keep it in place.
Earlier, when I was looking at my auction page, I noticed someone had placed an email comment beneath the pictures:
What a joke that pic looks fake man, no way is he going to kill himself. Im not going to bid anything you jackass -- FredinDallas
I almost slapped my own forehead. Of course - how could I be so foolish? The bidders, they need the proof. And it only makes sense. In the grocery store, you sample the grapes before you buy them. You try on a shirt before you charge it. You want to buy a car, well, you take it through its paces before you sign on the dotted line, don’t you? Good god, man. The buyer, they need to take their measure of what's for sale with their eyes, and all they've seen so far is a picture of Billy in a chair.
They require evidence of the intent. A contract. Before they put their money down, they have to know, really know, that Billy is serious about ending his life, or else the bidding will stall, finishing lower than the value of a used Chevette. Don't worry, Billy, this is my very best idea yet. You'll see. I begin to hum a little tune, the theme song from M.A.S.H., which I had seen earlier.
“Because, Billy,” I say. With the handcuffs and the solid oak chair, Billy can't squirm around very much, and the duct tape is muffling his hopeless mewling quite nicely. I squint my eyes away from him, like when I’m spooning my morning grapefruit in front of the Saturday cartoons. They squirt.
“You have to understand. Suicide is only painless in the song.”
The knife is sharp, and his fingers drop into my hand like baby carrots.