He appears nervous, shifting his weight on one leg, then the other, as he informs me that he doesn't feel well and he's going home. He hands me his task list, turns around, and clocks out. I note that all of the work on the list has been completed early, which means he probably didn't take a morning or lunch break. I start to call after him, to ask if there is something wrong, but a moment of hesitation silences my question. It's none of my business if he wants to take the remainder of the day off; I've been thinking about taking a day or two myself.
The next morning a couple of maintenance workers find him slumped behind the steering wheel of his car in a parking lot near the coroner's office. Despite the lack of a note and no history of suicidal tendencies, his death is ruled "self-inflicted."
crack of a stick
by Curtis Dunlap
Mayodan, North Carolina