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"Today’s the day I’m going to do it. No more just thinking about it. No
more planning how. I know how and I’m going to get this thing done and over with.
I can’t take this anymore. Too much suffering. Too much pain. I just want
the pain to go away. This will take all the pain away. Yes, today is the
day I end this nightmare I call life," she said, staring at her reflection in
the large white wood framed mirror which hung over the sink.
She snatched up a lipstick container off of the light blue porcelain
bathroom sink and brought it to her lips, stopping just inches from her
mouth. "What for?" She said, and laughed. She leaned in closer to the
mirror, hips pressed tightly against the cool shiny porcelain. She was a
beautiful girl, everyone thought so. Long curly hair, the color of summer
straw, flowed smoothly to just below her elbows. Blue eyes that seemed to
jump off her face stared back at her. Her image began to turn blurry from
the tears that were filling her eyes. A single tear broke free and began a
lazy decent down her cheek, stopping briefly at the end of her chin before
losing its grip and tumbling into the drain. She wiped her eyes with the
back of her hands and images of her mother flashed before her. This caused a
burst of tears to flood through her eyes again. Like a basin that had been
stopped up, her tears had no where else to go and she began to
sob. She started to turn away from her reflection, then turning back, she
picked up the lipstick and meticulously painted her lips. She leaned into
the mirror with her face and planted a kiss on her reflection. "Good-bye,"
she said. As she left the bathroom she tossed the Crimson Queen lipstick
tube into the wastebasket.
Walking out of the two car garage towards her 1998 Camry, she noticed Mrs.
Benson strolling past the house.
"Hi Milicent," said Mrs. Benson, waving her hand in a lazy semi-circle.
Reaching for the door handle, Milicent nodded and smiled in the direction of
her next door neighbor.
"I always hated that bitch," she said, inserting the ignition key, forcing
the car’s V6 into motion. The Toyota roared into life and she reached for
the radio volume knob as heavy metal music saturated the Camry’s interior.
Knocking down the volume a few hundred decibels she pushed in a Nirvana tape.
As she pulled the stick shift into reverse she briefly thought of gunning
the engine, imagining Mrs. Benson falling way to the rear bumper. She could
see the horrified look on her face as she fell to the pavement. Her skull
shattering and spilling blood onto the freshly sealed driveway.
‘Boy would dad be pissed about that,’ she thought. Glancing into the
rear view and seeing Mrs. Benson fading to the right, she eased off of the
brake and the light green four door began rolling down the fifteen foot wide
driveway on its way to East Chester street.
She looked right then left on her way towards destiny, noticing the rows
of homes along the way. "This is good-bye neighborhood. So long. See you all
on the other side of life." A quick moment of sanity shot through her mind,
like a streak of lightning, and she thought of stopping herself, then it was
Continuing up this familiar street she began to feel relaxed and she knew
the five anti-anxiety producing Ativans Doc. Bailey had prescribed for her
were entering her blood stream and invading the cells of her brain. Of course
Doc. Bailey had given clear instructions to only take one every six hours- as
needed. Five at one time was ‘not advisable,’ as she envisioned the
good ol' Doc. saying to her if he knew. He was stodgy and uncaring. He was
cold and impersonal and she disliked him immensely.
When her mother died in a fiery car crash not five miles from this street,
the stoic doctor, who had been the family physician for as long as Milicent
could remember, simply said that ‘time will heal this, be patient.’ "That
cold stupid fuck," she said out loud, stepping on the accelerator, fearing
she might pass out from the effects of the drug before she could complete her
"Where is she going," said Milicent’s father Daniel Brackmon, as he pulled
into the empty driveway. An uneasy feeling came over him. It felt almost as
if some one or some thing was trying to get his attention but he wasn’t
listening. He had other things on his mind. His car dealership was
faltering and it would not be long before his creditors would force him to
file for bankruptcy.
He entered the house and made his way through the living room and into the
kitchen. The restless feeling persisted and he felt a light tap on his shoulder. Turning, he saw no one. The ambiguous feeling reached its pinnacle with
the sight of a
note held to the refrigerator door by a small plastic magnet in the shape of
a red juicy strawberry. He snatched the chit from the magnet’s grip with
such quickness that the berry went flying to the floor, disappearing under
the kitchen table.
First let me say that I love you. I know you have tried to help me and
for that I will be eternally grateful (so to speak). I know I have not tried
to help myself and to accept the help of others for my problem. I really
don’t think anyone could have helped me anyway. I miss her too much, dad. I
know now only one thing will help me. Only one thing left to do. I must end
this torment that is my life. Please don’t cry for me. And please don’t
ever think this was your fault. What I will do is of my own choice. Say
good-bye to everyone for me dad.
Again I love you, dad. Maybe we will all meet up again in the future. Who
Love, your daughter always, Milicent
P.S. Say good-bye to Muffy for me. She was nowhere in sight when I left."
He crumbled up the paper into his fist and began to cry. "Where? Where
would she go?" He asked himself, putting the back of his wrist to his
forehead and leaning against the refrigerator.
Then it came to him, like the name of a movie he had forgotten, suddenly,
it blew from the back of his mind to the front and begged attention. "The
bridge. She’s going to jump off the bridge. Oh my good God." He crammed
the crumpled suicide note into his front pocket and ran to the driveway.
Hopping into his ‘99 Ford Ranger he slammed the the stick into reverse and
ripped down the drive, causing the rear tires to let out a high pitched
squeal as they bit into the hot blacktop. He hoped nothing or no one was
behind him as he swung the nose of the Ford passed the rear and pointed it
north. He pushed the gas pedal forward and raced up the busy street. While
doing so he pushed down the emergency flasher button causing the blinkers and
tail lights to turn on, then off, in a rhythmic pattern.
Rounding a gentle curve in the road just past Hemlock Street he noticed he
was nearly doing twenty miles per hour over the posted thirty mph zone. Up
ahead and coming in the opposite direction was a Town of Ulster police
cruiser. "Shit," he said, and instead of slowing he pressed the pedal further
towards the floor. The dark haired mustachioed officer looked bewildered as
he passed by Daniel Brackmon’s speeding vehicle. ‘Must be drunk,’ Thought
the officer as he flipped on the lights and siren. He did a quick U-turn in
the middle of the street and sped after the Ford, calling it in on his police
"Just what I need now," Daniel said, glancing into the rearview mirror.
His eyes returned to the road just in time to swerve left, thus avoiding
Marge Zimmerman’s ‘88 Cadillac. Marge, at 79 years young was a careful
driver. Never did over the speed limit since picking up the driving duties
from Ralph, her husband of 55 years, after Ralph’s Parkinson’s prevented him
from, among many other things in life, driving. As a matter of fact ol' Marge
rarely ever even came close to approaching the speed limit on any road.
Daniel nearly lost control of the truck as the rear tires caught hold of
some loose gravel on the shoulder of the opposite lane, causing the back end
to slide momentarily and send a large plume of dust high into the air. The
marl drifted westward and spread itself evenly upon Bob Stevenson’s front
porch. Thankfully, he wasn’t sitting in his wicker rocker as he was prone to
do at this hour of the day. "Get the hell out of my way, Marge," Daniel
yelled at the crawling Caddy, as he regained control and sped by.
Immediately Marge hit the brake and pulled to the side. "Good Goddamned
thing," Daniel screamed, believing she had pulled over for him and not for
the siren wailing, light flashing police car gaining ground on the both of
He was coming close to the intersection of East Chester and Flatbush and
hoped the light would be green when he made the right turn, one mile from the
bridge. It was, and he pumped the break twice before cranking the wheel hard
to the right. The action caused the truck to skip onto Flatbush Avenue and
Daniel could feel the passenger side rise briefly before the truck’s wheels
came back down, remaking contact with the road’s surface. The fat tires made
a muted honking sound as they slid towards the yellow line which divided
Flatbush neatly in two. Strangely enough the noise they were making reminded
Daniel of an angry mother goose protecting its goslings.
The cruiser was in view now and Daniel had visions of the cop easing up
along side of him and forcing him off the road, then his hopes of catching
his daughter before she jumped would be thwarted. He slammed his foot to
the Ford’s floorboard and the engine kicked into high gear. Another traffic
light up ahead was just turning to yellow.
He steered the truck slightly to the left and blew by three cars that were
slowing for the upcoming red light. He didn’t take time to notice if they
were angry with him for doing so. He could imagine that they were. A large
tractor trailer was pulling out into the intersection an Daniel could hear
the honking of horns mixing in with the high pitched siren of the cruiser.
The melding of sounds, under other circumstances, could have been mistaken
for some new wave of Techno music.
Speeding through the intersection his thoughts turned to his daughter. ‘Please God, don’t let me be too late. I need her. Please don’t let this
The beefed up Chevy police cruiser was just off the rear bumper of the
Ford. Daniel mashed the gas pedal down in hopes of squeezing a little more
speed from the engine’s already taxed six cylinders, which churned away under
hood. ‘Maybe he realizes I’m headed to an emergency,’ Daniel thought, as he
looked down at the dash reassuring himself that the flashers were indeed
He reached the bridge’s approach lane and slowed to a speed lower than he
had driven in the past few minutes. "Fuck," he said, as the truck tried to
make the tight right turn. The ass end banged off a guard rail at the far
end of the lane and Daniel quickly calculated the unseen damage to the truck
bed to be well over a thousand dollars.
Taking a fast peek in the mirror he saw the police officer had made the
same driving error as him. The cruiser bounced off of the rail in almost the
same spot as the Ranger.
"Please Lord don’t let me be too late." he said to himself as he
approached the toll both, which guarded passage across the Hudson river to
the small Duchess County town of Rhinecliff.
Milicent stopped just as the bridge divided itself from Ulster county to
Dutchess County. "I wonder which County they’ll bring my body," she asked
herself, eying the large green and white sign which welcomed drivers into the
northern New York County of Dutchess. 'Doesn’t really matter,’ she thought
to herself as she threw the car into park. Motorists sped by without giving
Milicent a second look. It was illegal to stop on the bridge unless for an
emergency such as car trouble ‘or to commit suicide,’ she thought.
She rounded the front end of the Camry running her right hand lightly
across the hood as she walked to the silver metal bridge railing. "Wow, what
a view," she said outloud, turning three hundred sixty degrees and taking in
the panoramic landscape.
The Catskill mountains took up nearly a quarter of the skyline and for the
first time in a long while she took a few seconds to take in their beauty.
Rising high above the ground they beckoned recognition. Their pulchritude
caused her to gasp and
she briefly thought about climbing back into the car, hanging a tight U-turn
and heading back home to the note on the refrigerator before her dad came
home. But she knew the pain would never end until her life did. So she
turned to the railing and looked down. The sedating medicine along with the
sight of the nearly one hundred and fifty foot drop to the cool water below
caused her to sway a little from lightheadedness. She lifted her right leg
then her left up and over the railing and placed her feet firmly on the
narrow edge below. Holding on to the railing behind her with both hands, her
heart began to race as if she had just completed a running marathon. The wind
swirled and gusted at her frail body nearly forcing loose the tight grip she
had on the thick steel rail.
She stood there attempting to supplicate enough courage to lean forward
and let loose of the vice like grip she maintained, which would allow herself
to float out, then down. Then in a matter of seconds it would all end,
mercifully. The cars continued by her unnoticing, or perhaps and more
likely, uncaring. ‘They probably think I’m supposed to be here. Like I'm here
doing bridge repair work or something,’ she thought. ‘Little do they know
the bridge is here to repair me.’
She thought she had just about summoned the needed courage when the sound
of a horn caused her to snap her head back to the road. Before she ever got
sight of the Ranger she knew it would belong to her father. "How did he get
here?" She said out loud.
The Ford’s brakes bit into the road surface and came to a halt just behind
the Camry. Daniel Brackmon exited the vehicle before it actually stopped its
forward motion, causing him to stumble and nearly lose his balance. ‘ Great,’
he thought, ‘the officer will surely try to arrest me for DWI after seeing
He ran to the railing calling out his daughter’s name all the way.
"Milicent, honey, please don’t. Let’s talk this over. Wait," he yelled and
raced towards her. He knew she was not listening and could see her slacken
her grip just a bit.
"I love you daddy," she said letting go with her left hand, then her right.
Without stopping stride Daniel propelled his body in her direction. His
legs left the pavement as if being catapulted off of a stuntman’s air ramp.
His body was completely off of the ground now as Milicent’s began to fall
slowly away from the steel railing. Her feet were the last to lose contact
with the cement surface of the bridge. Her toppling reminded him of a tree
he and his uncle Charles had cut down after it had been struck by lightening,
leaving the large maple mortally wounded.
He knew what was coming. There was no escaping it. He had committed
himself in the name of love for his daughter. His body hurtled over the
railing and his outstretched arms made contact with Milicent’s shoulders.
"Oh daddy, I’m
scared," is what he heard as his long fingers grasped hold of her thin white
tee shirt. The two of them began a rapid descent towards the river’s
surface. They rolled over one another like parachutists attempting a
complicated jump. Daniel imagined what the police officer would be thinking
as he watched two people leap from the bridge. ‘Damn double suicide.
Strangest thing I ever saw.’
Daniel could see directly into his daughter’s eyes as they plummeted.
They were wide with terror. And for the first time in his forty five years
Daniel knew what it meant when people close to death, yet lucky enough to
escape it, said their lives flashed before them. Memories of his childhood
bolted through his mind, quickly changing from one event to another, never
stopping long enough for him to dwell upon. His Autobiography in an instant,
stopped briefly when the chapter devoted to his wife uncovered itself. He
and the former Elizabeth McShane were married over twenty years ago, had one
child; the now falling to her death Milicent, and had led a relatively pain
free and happy existence, until the accident.
The accident had changed everything. Peace and tranquility, love and
happiness, were transformed into pain, suffering and worst of all, the
distancing which slowly came between him and his daughter.
‘One year ago tomorrow,’ he thought, It will be one year tomorrow that a
drunk, fifty two year old man, twice convicted of DWI, would slam his Dodge
Dakota head on into his wife’s Toyota with such force it had sent her head
first through the front windshield of the small car. Her air born body would
travel over twenty yards before slamming against a six foot thick maple,
killing her instantly.
She was on her way home from an afternoon of shopping in nearby
Poughkeepsie, after dropping off her long time girlfriend Eileen Wilson at
Eileen’s Stone Ridge home. The two had gone through public school together.
From the first grade on, all the way through high school, they had always
remained friends. Even after Elizabeth had gone away to the University of
Hartford and the two had gone in separate directions; Eileen had chosen a
small college in northern Vermont in order to study law; Elizabeth choosing
to obtain her Bachelor’s degree in Education, they maintained their unique
friendship through letters and rare trips home.
Traveling east on route 209, minding her own business, thinking of her
family when wham; lights out, game over.
The young resident at the Kingston Hospital Emergency Department had tried
to comfort him by saying he was sure she didn’t suffer.
‘How the fuck would you know that, you little snot nosed intern. I have
bunions older than you. What the hell do you know?’
Identifying her body will always be in his memory (‘but not for much longer,’ he thought). She was barely recognizable. The impact with the tree had
all but sheared her face off. It was as if someone had dragged a giant wood
planer down her face, not once, but several times. His eyes averted the
formerly beautiful, flawless face and his gaze rested on one of the gold
hoops that dangled from her ears. Their once brilliant sheen had been dulled
by the dried blood which clung to the precious metal.
He felt a swell in his gut and without warning spewed the contents of his
stomach, covering the shiny emergency room floor. Doctors, nurses and the
two paramedics which had responded to the 911 call, scattered in different
directions as the
bile splattered everywhere. ‘Sure know how to clear a room Daniel,’ he
remembered thinking. A lovely caring nurse, he thought her name was Dawn,
had brought him an emesis basin and several warm washcloths.
He remembered trying to compose himself. In another circumstance he knew
he would have been extremely embarrassed over having Ralphed like that. But
now, grief, anger, and the extreme sense of helplessness had overtaken him
strength he knew he would never be able to fully escape it.
After leaving his dead wife he remembered thanking everyone for their
help. These people deal with death every day, yet they all seemed nervous
and at a loss for words when speaking to him. The young paramedic named
Frank offered to ride Daniel home. He politely refused and walked out
through the two sets of automatic doors and into the rest of his life without
his beloved Elizabeth. He managed to make the nearly two hundred foot walk
to his truck, get in and close the heavy door, before he screamed his wife’s
name at the top of his lungs. He sat there staring out the front of the
truck with tears rolling down his cheeks in endless uninterrupted streams for
nearly thirty minutes.
He thought of what he would say to his daughter but no words sounded
right: "Your mom is dead, Milicent. I’m sorry dear but your mom has been
in an accident. Sit down honey I have something to tell you. A fucking drunk
driver, who blew over twice the legal limit, just killed your mother." ‘Oh
god. What am I going to say to her?’ He thought, and then began to beat the
steering wheel furiously with his closed fists.
He remembered driving around the city, aimlessly, barely able to focus on the
road through his tear filled eyes. Suicide became a cursory option. It
leaped into his thoughts as if forced upon him. "End it all now and maybe
we’ll be together," he said to himself. But he knew he was incapable of such a selfish act. He
had his daughter and she would need him now more than ever.
He drove for another twenty minutes until he was sure Milicent was back
from her excursion to the Mall. She and her best friend Michelle, along with
several of their school mates, made it their weekly Friday afternoon-early
Dinner at the food court, some window shopping along with boy watching and
then a movie, was the usual plan.
He spotted her car resting obediently in the driveway and a pit began to
grow inside of his stomach. It felt more like a seed that had germinated and
grew as if being fed with the fear, rage and sorrow medley that had engulfed
Daniel’s body. He felt another abdominal convulsion was imminent but managed
to successfully fend off its advances.
He turned off the truck’s engine and sat there with his hand on the
ignition, unable to release it. ‘I can’t do this,’ he thought. ‘I can’t tell
her her mother’s dead. ‘This isn’t how things are suppose to work.’ He
laid his forehead against the steering wheel and began to cry again. He felt
as though he might weep forever.
He struggled to compose himself and began the journey which would forever
change his daughter’s outlook on life - and death. He tried to wipe the tears
from his eyes as he walked to the front door. He knew it was a futile act
because once he laid eyes upon his daughter the tears would again flow
freely. He stopped briefly on the stoop and gazed up towards the sky. It
was a clear sky, full of stars that shined and twinkled brightly. He thought
of how beautiful that sky looked to him. He began to sob as he thought of his
wife and how she would never again be able to take in this wonderful sight.
He would never look at the night sky the same again.
He unlocked the front door and stepped inside. Milicent was sitting at the
kitchen table enjoying a bowl of French vanilla ice cream and watching MTV
with undivided attention. She hadn’t noticed her father making his way
through the front door. Her interest was in Lenny Kravits and his music
video, Are You Gonna Go My Way?
Closing the door, Daniel stood still and drew in a deep breath, letting it
out slowly. He thought this might relax him, to compose himself enough to
say the words. Words he thought he could not bring himself to say. He
wanted to be strong. He wanted to cry. He wanted to go back in time and
have all this be a nightmare that one wakes up from in a cold sweat and
thanks god for it being just a dream. But this was no dream. This was real
and he dreaded with all his being what he now had to do.
Entering the kitchen he put his hand upon his daughter’s back and massaged
it, tracing small circles between her shoulders.
"Hi honey, whatcha watching?" He said in a choked voice which went
"Hi dad, nothing," came the reply. "Where have you been? Where’s mom?
She still out with Eileen?" She maintained her gaze on Mr. Kravits and
awaited a reply. When it didn’t come she turned to her father and
immediately became panicked.
His face was tear soaked and when their eyes connected he could not speak.
He began to sob uncontrollably. He didn’t want to breakdown like this. Not
in front of his daughter but he could not help it. The tears and sobs were
in control now. He was just a vehicle for their escape. It was as if he
wasn’t even there, but rather looking at all this as a spectator watches a
sporting event. Except this was no sporting event. This was a horror he
never expected. And he really was not a spectator. He was a starting player
who was failing miserably.
Milicent jumped up from the table, putting a hand to her mouth. "My god
dad, what’s wrong?" She moved her hands to his shoulders, as a parent might
do to a child who is refusing to answer a question, shaking him slightly
between her firm grasp. Daniel hung his head low, unable to answer. Then as
if the spell had lifted he drew on some inner strength he thought was not
there and began to take control of his emotions. The sobbing slowed down
like a car coming to a rolling stop at a stop sign, meaning to halt but not
quite doing so. He knew it would not be long before the sobs increased again.
His chance to talk would be now.
"Milicent, dear, there’s been an accident." He thought of all the
television shows and movies in which he had heard similar words. ‘Couldn’t I
think of better ones?’ He realized that maybe there were no better words
for what he had to say and continued, "your mother was driving home from
Eileen’s house when.... when....."
"When what dad? When what?" Now it was Milicent’s turn to be overtaken
with tears and sobs for she knew what he was about to say. How could she
not. He was crying uncontrollably. Milicent had only seen him cry once and
that had been three years ago at his mother’s funeral. The crying then was
reserved and barely noticeable. This was totally different. This was
expressive and forceful. This was crying in which one had no control. This
was bad, bad news and Milicent sensed he was about to tell her that her
mother of sixteen years, her friend and confidant, the person she went to for
her advice, was dead.
Daniel covered his mouth with the palm of one hand and closed his eyes,
hoping to summon enough strength to go on.
"She’s dead Milicent, she’s dead. Oh my god, oh god," he grabbed the
sides of his head with his palms as if just developing a major migraine. His
grief escalated to a new level. It was as if it fed upon his fear and
sadness. It began to drain his energy and then, without warning, his legs
betrayed him and he fell to the floor, landing on his knees. Pain shot up
both legs and lodged itself in his hips. He ignored it and struggled to his
"Dad, please, you’re scaring me," she said and grabbed his strengthless
hands. Tears invaded her eyes now and she began to cry. Her body shivered
and shook as if she were in the throws of a mild seizure.
Daniel squeezed her hands and struggled to calm himself enough to carry
on. Unable, he threw his arms around her and hugged her tightly. Her shaking
lessened as her tears increased.
"Dad?" She said into his ear. "Dad? Please dad, talk to me. What
happened?" She said and pushed him away to arms length. His eyes were
puffy, as if he went a few rounds with a prize fighter. The once white
sclera of them had turned a shade of pink which reminded her of a setting
summer sun. His nose was draining and she reached down to the table, snatched
a napkin from the wooden holder she had made for him over three years ago in
her Science and Technology class. She wiped away the clear fluid and briefly
felt as if their roles of parent and child had reversed.
He offered her a quick pained smile, taking the napkin from her and
finishing the job. Her tears continued as he pulled away and struggled to the
sink. He flipped the faucet lever upward and cool water began to flow.
Reaching under the stream he splashed water upon his face. The act seemed to
compose him and as he wiped away the wetness from his face, he spoke. "There
was an accident, Milicent. On route 209, just past the college. A drunk
driver hit her head on." He felt the sorrow and pain re-invade him and he
mentally waged a war to halt its menacing advances. "She was...killed
instantly," he said and buried his face into the small kitchen towel he was
still holding. An image of the hospital intern flashing by.
He could hear her begin to scream and shout. "No! No! You’re lying
daddy. How can you say something like that. She’s not dead. She can’t be."
Panic spread across her face, covering it like spilled liquid on a table top.
He did battle again, holding back the army of tears and went to her. He
grasped her shoulders firmly and looked into her bleary eyes. "I’m sorry
honey. Oh my god, I’m sorry. We’ve lost her," he said and stared up at the
ceiling. He half expected a vision from heaven to appear and guide them
through all of this. When he was sure it would not come he looked back at
his daughter. She was crying with such force that her body was going through
recalcitrant jerking movements, making her shoulders rise and fall as if
controlled by a marionette. And he thought he may have to bring her to the
emergency room for sedation. A thought he quickly dismissed.
The two of them stood, locked in embrace for several minutes more when her
crying began to slow.
In a calm almost surreal voice she said, "What are we going to do now?
She was the most important person in our lives, daddy. How can we live
"I don’t know honey. But we’re gonna have to try." He felt a new found
strength. He would have to be strong, for her.
The tears stopped and he turned his full attention to his distraught
daughter. "I think I need to lay down," she said, and started for the
"Let me help you," he said.
"No. I’m all right. I can manage," she said, wiping tears from her eyes.
"Can I make you a cup of tea?" he said, "I’m gonna have some."
"No. No thanks dad, I couldn’t. I’ll be upstairs."
"Yes?" she said and stared back at him with vacant, listless eyes.
"I love you, honey. I love you so much," he said, fighting back another
wave of tears.
She smiled weakly at him and then turned away.
The days that followed were more than difficult - they were excruciatingly
painful. There were the funeral people to deal with, the newspaper had to
print an obituary, friends and family had to be notified, arrangements were
made. All the while
a never ending supply of tears made their way from a constantly replenishing
reservoir and rolled down Daniel’s cheeks.
Milicent remanded herself to her bedroom. She refused to speak to anyone
and did not manage to make it to her mother’s funeral. She was beyond
distraught and Daniel became so alarmed he finally called General
Practitioner, Doctor Milton
Bailey, the family physician. He, without hesitation made a rare house call.
He examined Milicent and prescribed medication for her anxiety.
"She’s suffering from depression," he told Daniel. "Brought on by the
death of her mother."
‘A, duh,’ Daniel had thought to himself.
"Time." he said, "she needs time. A traumatic experience such as this
needs time to pass. When she’s ready she’ll deal with the pain. Just give
her time," he said, before leaving.
Time did pass and three weeks after the death of her mother, her confidant
and her friend, Milicent came down the stairs to the breakfast table with a
new outlook. Her mood changed and she seemed happy. She was able to catch
up on her school work and after three months Daniel began to feel the worst
of it was behind them. She seemed cheery and content. Little did Daniel
know it was all a front. Deep inside she was tortured. Her grief was
kindling and soon it would explode into one giant fireball.
Doc. Bailey thought it a good idea to keep her on the Ativan. "It seems to
be working," he had said, "let’s not mess with success."
Little did he know that the drug was just masking the bigger, more intense
problem of severe depression. That depression would eventually reach such a
level it would force her to attempt the ultimate act of desperation.
Snapping from the thoughts of the past his eyes were locked with his
daughters. Still wide with terror she seemed to be looking to him for a sign
of hope. Daniel realized through that visage Milicent new she had made a
mistake. He could tell
she wished to change the actions she had just made over the past two seconds.
To take them back like a chess move you realize is wrong and retreat your
piece in order to contemplate a better, safer move. It was far to late for
that. He was sure as she looked at him, his eyes reflected the same sentiment.
He broke his gaze and glanced upward as the death roll continued towards a
watery grave. The blue sky was replaced by the blue-green of the river, only
to be supplanted again by the sky, as they tumbled. He felt they were
perhaps involved in some sort of bizarre space experiment that might end with
the two of them discussing their findings in front of a panel of space
experts from NASA.
As they traveled through the air he could hear the wind ripping through
the cuffs of his Chinos. Chinos his wife helped pick out two weeks before
she died. The sound took him back to when he was ten and reminded him of
playing cards he used to place in the spokes of his bicycle in order to get
that - motorcycle sound.
‘How fast are we going? Fifty? Sixty? Eighty miles per hour?’ He had no
idea. He never did anything like this before. And he was certain that he
would never do anything like it again. He closed his eyes and prepared for
Milicent was indeed wishing that she had made another choice. She
realized this was not for her, that maybe she did have something to live for.
‘Too late for that. You screwed up big time. Not only are you going to die
but now you’re responsible for the death of your father. Nice going selfish
girl.’ She thought, as the speeding breeze rushed over her.
Her hair danced wildly about her head, sending strands of blond whipping
across her face. The quick slaps of hair stung her skin but it went
effectively unnoticed. Under other circumstances she would be letting out
short yelps of pain and attempting to keep those ropes of hair from
assaulting her. Right now it was a minor irritant. The bigger irritant lay
fifty feet below.
Like her father, she had visions of her past sweep through her mind. Her
mother popped to her first. She remembered her and the family vacations at
the south Jersey shore. She felt a warm glow heat her body as she recalled
the hot sandy beach
she and her parents visited every August since she was five years old. She
and her mother would take early morning strolls along the expansive
boardwalk, as her father stayed behind in the motel and slept. They would
walk for an hour each morning and talk about everything and anything that
came up. As her age increased and she entered puberty the talks would be of
boys, sex and school. She was a wealth of information. She never lectured
her daughter. She gave her choices and let her make up her own mind. ‘She
allowed me to make mistakes. She let me make my own decisions. She knew me
better than anyone. I loved her so much. I miss her, oh god how I miss her.’
The day of the accident burst into her mind like an unwanted guest. She
didn’t want it there, and she told it so, but it stayed anyway.
She recalled her mother kissing her good-bye and telling her to have a
good day at school. That she would be out with her friend, Eileen, till
about four or five that afternoon and that they would talk later. As she
started out the door on her way to her homeroom class at the Kingston High
School, her mother took her by the hand and slipped a twenty dollar bill into
it. "Have a good time at the mall later," She recalled her saying. "And be
'My god were those the last words my mother said to me’ She thought
She flashed to that evening and coming home to an empty house. She thought
it odd that neither one of her parents were home. But it wasn’t that unusual
for her father to be working late at the car dealership. Her mom and Eileen
probably decided to have dinner and take in a movie. She expected a note to
be stuck to the fridge explaining their whereabouts or a message on the
answering machine but there was neither. She never realized that at that
very moment her father was identifying what was left of her once beautiful
mother. How he agonized over her ravaged dead corpse. She remembered
carrying on pretty much as usual: a bowl of ice cream and some music videos
in the kitchen. ‘God, while I was at the mall my mom was killed and my
father was already mourning her death.’
When she did hear her father come through the front door she was so wrapped
up in the music she hardly realized he was there. She asked him where he had
been and where her mother was. The sight of his tear stained face caused the
to solidify in her stomach, forming a painful knot. She was overtaken with
panic and dreaded taking the conversation any further than she already had.
‘Leave it at that. I’m going to bed, say good night to mom, see ya all at
That wouldn’t happen she realized as her father began to sob uncontrollably.
She had never seen him so distraught. Her heart raced and a fear so strong
she thought she could smell it filled her head. She felt sad for him as he
struggled to tell her the words that would change both their lives forever.
She recollected the days and weeks after her mother’s death. The daily
paper made the crash their top story: LOCAL WOMAN KILLED IN HEAD ON COLLISION.
Just after reading that head line is when she first contemplated suicide.
The thought of living without her mother was unbearable. Her father, though
loving and a great man, could not compare to her mother. While her father
loved and cared for her deeply, it was her mother who made her life complete.
The loss she felt deep within her left a hole so large she knew it could
never be filled. When her mother died, so did she. Reading the obituary was
no picnic either, she remembered:
Elizabeth Brackmon of East Chester Street
died Wednesday, June 23,1998, at the Kingston Hospital, the
result of a car accident.
Born May 16, 1953, in Kingston, daughter of the late James and Marion Mcshane.
She worked as a Special Educator, specializing in adaptive
communications. Survivors include her husband, Daniel Brackmon and a
daughter, Milicent Brackmon, both of Kingston.
Further funeral information will be announced by Simon-Lore
Funeral Home, 233 West Crandel Ave. Kingston.
She kept the obituary, carefully cutting it out from the rest of the paper
and folding it neatly in half. She stuck that sad compilation of words in
the middle of a book of poems authored by a sixteen year old girl named Noel
Sanders. The young Ms. Sanders had written a series of poems devoted to the
love and admiration she felt for her parents. Most of those poems reminded
Milicent of the relationship she and her mother had shared. They would be
her only source of comfort after the death of her mother. But as much as she
enjoyed reading them, they would eventually cause her great pain as they
continually reminded her of the past. A past that had no hope for a future.
She recalled the day of the funeral. So stricken with grief, she was
unable to leave the side of her bed, refusing to attend the service. Her
father had made a feeble attempt at persuading her to accompany him but he
was in no condition to argue
with her, he was struggling with his own grief. He simply kissed her on the
cheek, told her he loved her and that he understood. She was grateful for
his empathy. "I just can’t face all those people,daddy." Is what she had
told him. "Mom is dead and laying in a box and people will be crying and....
I just can’t face that. I can't."
"I don’t think I can either," he had said, sitting down beside her. "But I have
A pang of guilt racked her and she almost gave in and
said she would go. Guilt was quickly replaced by sorrow and tears and she
dismissed the idea that she could attend. "I’m sorry daddy. Please forgive
me?" She asked of him, throwing a loose arm around his shoulder.
"No need to apologize Milicent. I understand." With that he kissed her
and left for the funeral parlor, alone.
After he departed the tears began to exit their ducts like rain from an
over saturated thunderhead. She sat in her room and cried for the rest of
the day. Thoughts of her mother triggering major geysers of tears that she
attempted to soak up with the box of tissues she clung to.
She recalled that the days following the funeral were hectic ones for her
father. He had insurance policies to go through and cash in so that the
funeral expenses would be paid . Most of the household book work was done and
filed by Elizabeth and it would take him months to sort it all out and form
his own system of paying the bills.
She remembered September and her first day back at the High School.
People, some of them close friends, seemed to avoid her like a driver avoids
a dead animal in the middle of the road; curious they were, but careful not
to get too close.
She began to feel she was being isolated, though she knew it was mostly
due to her becoming a recluse. Her friends, the true ones, stopped trying to
talk with her after months of attempts to reach her. She refused to take
phone calls and spent most of her time in her room reading that book of poems
which seemed to be her only source of comfort. All else around her seemed
fake and unreal. She began to believe she was not meant to be a part of all
this, like she was supposed to be in some other world where things would be
different for her. It was finally clear to her now, as she was falling
towards her death, that she had been in the mighty grips of a deep
‘Why couldn’t I see that before now?’ She thought, as she
stared into her father’s eyes.
He returned the gaze with a wide eyed look of horror. The wind tossing
his hair back and forth in such quick movements he looked like a projection
from an old sixteen millimeter movie. His mouth opened in an effort to speak
but no sounds
would come forth. The end was quickly catching up to the both of them,
hovering over their bodies as they fell, like a giant moth that would wrap
them up in its wings and garrote the life out of their soon to be mangled
The speed at which they traveled through space seemed to pick up as the
water neared. While in the midst of a roll Daniel got what would be his final
look at the bridge above. He could make out the police officer’s form
through wind blurred and tearing eyes. Another figure, a man he thought,
joined the officer and peered at the plunging duo of death as if watching a
pay for view special. He could almost hear him thinking he wished he had his
camcorder. That this double suicide would make for good TV, perhaps even
make him a few dollars.
The water came back into view now and his last thought was of his wife.
In his mind she was smiling at him and he sensed he would see her soon. A
wide smile crossed his face just as the deadly free fall came to an end.
Daniel’s right side made contact with the water first. He felt an intense
sear of pain, like he had been stabbed with a heated fireplace tool, as his
shoulder separated from it’s socket. His face followed, smashing through the
water with great force.
The impact felt like someone took one of his gardening shovels and swung it
with all their might, making solid contact with his cheek and head. His ear
ripped away from his head and slipped below the surface, seesawing its way to
the silky river bottom. It would later become nourishment for some lucky
aquatic animal. Ashes to ashes.
Two of his ribs alienated themselves from cartilage and punctured holes
into his right lung, deflating it like a popped balloon. The last breath of
air he took, the last he would ever take, gushed from his body like a slimy
cherry pit squeezed between two fingers.
He was still conscious and he now new what it was like to be in the select
company of death. It embraced him like an old friend and he felt himself
embracing it back.
His hip followed and the bones that made up his pelvis splintered and
shattered like a porcelain plate that had been dropped to the kitchen floor.
This force caused his body to turn so that his back began to submerge. The
unforgiving water, behaving more like concrete, pushed his head towards his
chest. His chin was driven into his sternum with enough force to send a long
sliver of a crack directly down it’s middle. One half second later his
neck snapped. It was all over for Daniel Brackmon as his otherwise healthy
heart refused to beat.
The two jump watchers peering over the bridge railing cringed at the sight
of the huge splash they witnessed, as father and daughter hit the water
Officer Joseph Petrino, two years on the force, father of two small boys
and married to his long time love, Carly, stood next to Wilfred Cummings,
sixty-two, former IBMer, childless and a widower of three years. The two of
them stared downward with mouths agape and shaking their heads in unison. To
the uniformed motorists rolling by, they appeared to be keeping time with a
song only the two of them were able to hear. They watched as the huge
displacement of water signaled the ending of two lives, first Daniel’s, than
moments later, his daughter Milicent’s.
Milicent saw the smile on her father’s face and it sent a shrill of cold
to her scalp. ‘How could he be smiling?’ She thought and stretched out her
arms forcing him away from her. This action caused her to turn slightly,
making her back the first part of her body to embrace the water.
As she hit the surface, she became acutely aware of why her father had
been smiling, for she smiled too. ‘It was mom. He saw her, as I am seeing
The vision of her mother came to her at the exact moment the water slapped
her back with enough cruelty to crush every vertebrae from her neck to her
tailbone, instantly paralyzing her. She felt no pain and the reverie of her
to take her attention away from the ravaging of her body.
Her mother was standing on the beach, tan and beautiful. She was calling
for her daughter to join her for a swim in the warm August water of the
Atlantic. She motioned her closer as the waves behind her rose and fell with
ferocity. Milicent became
apprehensive as the waves increased, both in size and frequency. She
followed though, because she had complete trust in her mother.
As her back dipped below the river’s surface her arms came slamming into
the water snapping both of them like twigs of kindling. Her pelvis
splintered, sending shards of pointy bone up into her abdomen causing her
bladder to burst and send urine spilling into her abdominal cavity. A
portion of large intestine was severed and it’s sordid dark contents exploded
She died in under a second, a smile still on her face.
The daily paper did indeed print the story as a double suicide. According
to the official investigation, Daniel Brackmon and his daughter set up a not
so elaborate scheme to commit suicide as a result of their being distraught
over the death of
Mrs. Brackmon. Although no suicide note was ever found after a thorough
search of the Brackmon home, the lead investigator in the case could come up
with no other explanation.
"This is a clear cut case of two people who, after losing a mother and a
wife, lost all touch with themselves and those around them. Mr. Brackmon’s
auto dealership had been in financial trouble long before his wife’s
accident. His business was on the verge of bankruptcy. That, coupled with
the tragic death of Mrs. Brackmon, is what we believe pushed him over the
edge. As for his daughter it was no secret she was suffering from severe
depression, unable to cope with the loss of a mother she was very close to.
We understand she began to keep to herself. She alienated her friends and
her school grades began to drop. From what we have learned she rarely came
out of her room."
The paper went on to discuss the active roles the Brackmons played in the
community; Mr. Brackmon having served on the school board for three years,
while his wife was involved in many civic projects, including the funding
drive for the
city’s new library. On page sixteen, the story, written by Arthur Ryan,
continued with an interview of Wilfred Cummings. "I never seen anything quite
like it in my life," he had told the reporter. "I was driving over to
Kingston from my home in Rhinebeck when I saw this green foreign job pull to
the side. This young girl jumps out and climbs over the railing. I couldn’t
believe my eyes. Then a black truck comes to a halt and this crazed looking
guy jumps out and runs right over to the rail and jumps with her.
Unbelievable. Craziest thing I ever did see. A shame it is, to lose a whole
family like that in a years time. A damn shame. Here today gone tomorrow.
Lights out, game over, end of story."
The local television station, WTYX channel 6, led off their evening news
report by stating there was a double suicide today as two people jumped to
thier deaths from the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge.
"Good evening I’m Jim Norbert. A double suicide today has rocked the
Kingston community, leaving friends and neighbors of the victims dumbfounded.
Daniel Brackmon, forty-five, and his daughter, seventeen year old Milicent
Brackmon, jumped to their deaths early this morning from the
Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge which spans the Hudson River." Jim smiled his
wide TV smile, trying but failing to incorporate a sense of sympathy into it.
"We take you now to Kelly Eldridge who is standing live, outside of the
Brackmon home." Jim continued with his stage smile for a few seconds longer
and the picture changed to a close up of reporter Kelly Eldridge.
"Thanks Jim," she said. "Sad news to report tonight from this usually
quiet Kingston street." The camera man pulled back and a modest, white, two
story wood framed home with an attached two car garage came into view.
The house was a buzz with activity. Ms. Eldridge turned from the camera
and pointed to the front door of the house. "As you can see police our
scouring the house, looking for clues as to why a father and daughter would
take their own lives."
Jim’s voice followed hers. "Have they turned up anything yet Kelly? A
note or an indication as to why they would both commit suicide?" Ms.
Eldridge turned back to the camera. "So far they have been unable to turn up
any sort of suicide note or information that would indicate the reason for
The camera moved to the left slightly as Ms. Eldridge continued, "We do
have with us a neighbor of the Brackmons who just might have the answer." An
elderly woman of seventy-five with all white puffy hair that had a slight
trace of blue in it smiled brightly into the camera. She was holding a black
and orange fluffy haired cat in her arms. "With me is Olive Benson, long
time neighbor to the Brackmons. Mrs. Benson. What do you make of all this?"
She asked and shoved a large microphone under her nose. Mrs. Benson jumped
back slightly and said only, "Love." Ms. Eldridge, looking a bit
surprised and disappointed, peered at the camera and then back at Olive
Benson and repeated Olive’s one word answer in the form of a question.
"That’s right. Love. Those two lost both a mother and a wife little over
a year ago. They never got over it. The daughter took it the hardest. She
went straight to the doldrums after her mother died. Never could bring
herself out," She said, stroking the head of the cat. "Her father wasn’t
much better. He was suffering bad himself. He tried to comfort his
daughter. Why he even came home one day with little Muffy here," She said
and offered up the cat to the camera. "Thought it might cheer his daughter
up a bit. I guess it didn’t work," She said, and a sad caring face
"So what you’re telling us Mrs. Benson," Eldridge said, "is that love for
a woman they both lost, caused them to take their own lives?"
"Only thing I can figure," she said, shaking her head.
"Well thank you for your time Mrs. Benson," Eldridge said, nodding towards
Olive and Muffy.
"You’re welcome dear," Olive said and smiled. The camera zoomed in on Ms.
Eldridge’s, tanned, just back from Jamaica looking face and she ended her
"Summing up, a double suicide has taken the lives of two Kingstonians.
Daniel Brackmon and his daughter Milicent leaped to their deaths from the
Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge earlier today. Police are still investigating and
we will update you on any further developments in this tragic tale of love
and loss." She then flashed her sympathetic smile for the camera. "Back to
"Thank you Kelly Eldridge for that report," he said looking down at the
top of the news desk as if in deep contemplation.
He looked up and said, "What a terrible, terrible story. We’ll be back
The screen faded to black.