They say it happened at 4:02 am. But how could they know that? Lying in his own bodily fluids, his breath had stopped at some moment, but there had been no one there to see it. If the sound of air flowing and the motion of the belly stops, and no one is there to see it, what then? As that night died away towards morning, Richard had lost his own life. One could argue though that he had only had night towards the end. He was lost in an oblivion of chemical delusion. Nothing was true or real to him. Like the madness of darkness and its uncertainty, his life became a Bacchanalian farce: hedonism gone completely wrong to the point of pathos.
The day before had been madness. Clarissa felt something was different. She was frantic that day, attempting to appease his wildly spinning thoughts. First he was cold and shivering one moment, then accusatory and condemning as she brought him his blanket.
It was as if she was his guide towards death that day. As she comforted him and made his pain easier, he prepared himself for the uncertainty beyond. Faith became something that was not to be relied upon. To Richard, doubt became his faith. Everything became doubt at the end, even the person with whom he had spent his last years.
She had found him when she awoke the next morning. She was pulling open the doors to let in the sunshine, when she spotted him flopped onto the staircase. The position he was in was almost grotesque. He was slumped over as if he were a doll that had had its legs pulled up to its ears. His clothes were stained with vomit and his mouth was filled with foam and what looked like gastric fluid. She ran to check on him, but stopped as she approached. It was quite clear he was dead. She thought to herself how fortunate it was that his eyes were closed. She dialed the police to come because, although she was sure of his demise (having been sure that this moment would come for years), she wanted the police to do a thorough investigation so that any talk in town would be based on facts, not hearsay. In fact, no one had been at the villa to visit for days, maybe even a week. She would give Richard that at least, protecting what little dignity he had left at the end.
When the police came, they noted the bottles all around in their report, with details included of brand name and amounts left in each bottle. They noted Richard’s position and did some measurements of his body. They took temperature readings and employed a few calculations to determine however oddly the specific time of death. There was an investigator making some drawings complete with lines of force and mass. There was zero evidence of any blood. Clarissa noted this in her mind as being an odd sort of crime scene. They noted the broken black railing and discussed this piece of evidence for a few minutes (merely neglect on our part without any other significance). They asked her questions about his mental state yesterday and whether he had taken any other substances besides alcohol. They took fingerprint samples of the bottles, the house, the stair railing, the doors to the outside. They asked her detailed questions about what they had done yesterday. What time did they dine? Had they left the house? Had Richard alluded to his feeling odd or hopeless? They offered her counseling and gave her the card of someone who could help. Clarissa was evidently numb though. She did not cry. I am sure that piece of evidence was to be included in the report as well. From the outside apparently emotionless, but what they didn’t recognize was that her insides were being torn apart, pulled inside out with every breath. Does she want the body sent for autopsy? She replied yes, if only to see the proof of what both Richard and she had gone through for years: the effect chemicals had on his physical body and the strain that was placed on him, explaining his inability to cope, connect, understand, believe, and eventually survive.
The police left and the coroner came to collect what was left of Richard. She shook his hand with a limp grasp, and he assured her that he would do his best to render the report thorough, leaving out nothing. He gave her the information she needed about what to do afterwards, and she listened numbly, nothing really registering in her mind at this point. The van drove down the hill, and she watched as he left her. She thought of him in that van. She felt guilty that she let him go off alone. This is the first and only time Richard had left her. He stuck around with her for 15 years. He had loved her, she knew, and she had loved him in his madness. He was 51 years old: a boy trapped inside a man’s body. She said goodbye to him for the first and last time.