Thursday, August 25th, 10:05 a.m.

As they opened the glass doors etched with the Amtrak police logo the thought passed through my mind in almost too fleeting of a way to even realize it had been there. Like a whisper…grab a gun. How quickly it all would have ended.

But I was almost catatonic. For the past 24 hours I had been living in a state of the deepest depression my emotions had ever delved into. I had not been asleep for well past that amount of time despite being on a regular diet of Tylenol PM every couple of hours. In fact, looking back, I had been operating on roughly six hours of sleep since 3 a.m. on Monday, August 22nd. Six hours in the past 75 with more diphenhydramine in my system than could be anywhere close to healthy.

So surrounded by three officers creating almost a bubble around me, I simply moved within that bubble until coming to the stereotypical hard, plastic, waiting room like chair next to a desk where they asked me to sit down. They put on latex gloves as they obtained my permission to search my bag. My person. I must have given it, though I have no recollection. Maybe I just shook my head. Maybe they simply took my lack of resistance as compliance. Maybe…

For those who have never been there, though I know many of the readers of this will have been, it is almost beyond reach to describe my state at that point. There was no awareness that my plan had been foiled. There was no understanding, or even curiosity of what they were going to do with me next. There was no plotting, calculating, or weighing the gravity of my situation. There. Was. Nothing. Were it not for the beating of my heart and the oxygen flowing in and out of my lungs…I had practically ceased to even exist.

Based on my limited experiences in life, I cannot imagine a person being alive while feeling more dead. To this day I can remember there being three officers. I can picture one. Vaguely a second. No idea what the third looked like. There was an office I was sitting in. No concept of the color of the walls or the placement of objects.

But I do remember this. Two of the officers could not stop talking to me. I believe the third had gone to call my wife. And all the two could say…over, and over, and over, and over, and over again was…“We have all been there.” “There is nothing to be embarrassed of.” “We all know how you feel.” “Everyone has experienced this.”

Really? This? How can you know how I feel when I don’t feel a fucking thing!

It is interesting now as I work through my therapy and recovery to look at some of the most profound underlying challenges in my emotional life. One of, if not the greatest, is a deep-seated, passionate, foundational feeling of anger. Hostility. Rage.

And it is interesting that at this moment of my life when I have never felt less alive, the one emotion that found a way to keep embers alive was that one.


Thursday, August 25th, 10 a.m.

He said my name. My legal name. A name I have never truly gone by for any extended period of time, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s still my name. So the natural reflex was to turn towards him. To make eye contact. It was a quick glance. I immediately turned back away. And immediately regretted having every looked.

I had seen him a few moments earlier. As I came off the Amtrak platform into Union Station he stood in the middle of three uniformed officers. They had an appearance that they were waiting for someone. For whatever reason, it never crossed my mind that I could be that someone. I was multiple states from home. I am a nobody. What could they possibly want with me. I merely kept my place in the masses, made the turn into Union Station, and headed to my left.

That is when I heard my name. That is when I made the turn. The glance. That is when my plan came to an end.

He called my name out a second time and I knew my options were few. I could run. I had more or less been running for the better part of 24 hours. However, the lack of food, liquids or sleep were clearly taking a toll on me. I could just act like I wasn’t the guy. Like I had just turned out of curiosity. But something told me they had already seen it in my eyes. That these were professionals, and they knew I was their man.

So instead, I turned to them and pleaded, “Seriously? Here? In front of everyone? You’re just going to embarrass me like this?” As if there was some form of embarrassment taking place in front of the passing throngs of people who wouldn’t know me from Adam…less a person or two who had been with me on that god forsaken train for the past 9 hours and might recognize and gawk.

“No. We don’t want to embarrass you. We just want to talk to you. We can go in here.” And they led me through some glass doors clearly etched with the words Amtrak Police Department. With full uniforms including badges, tasers and guns, they were daunting enough. Amtrak police have the full authority of local police. I was more or less dealing with Chicago Police officers. Chicago. Not Po-Dunk USA. Real cops in a major US city. And the only real thought going through my head was, “How am I ever going to kill myself now?”

They asked if I had any weapons on me. They asked if they could search my duffel bag. They asked if it was okay to contact my wife and let her know they had found me. They asked if I needed anything to eat…maybe some McDonald’s. I just stared. Stared off to nowhere. Because all I wanted was to go to sleep. And to never, ever wake up.