At The End of All Things
A Constant Wanderer
I am a constant wanderer.
Never fitting in.
Ever lonely but accepting who I am.
Searching for, I forget what.
I have lived many lives.
I have traveled many miles.
Many stories I have.
For you, I will tell them.
It felt like a good day to do the necessary, and I’d picked the spot I wanted to see one last time.
I’d stayed the night at the Monte Vista Hotel, my favorite hotel of all my travels. I’d spent the night at a restaurant down the street, eating the best bacon cheeseburger I’d ever had, and then I’d followed it up with a liquid dessert that consisted of gin and tonics and Old Fashioneds, my favorites. Surprisingly, I hadn’t woken up with a hangover. Instead, rays of light from the rising sun warmed my face as I woke from my plush, comfortable bed.
I walked through the noir-style hotel room and opened my window. The cold Flagstaff mountain air caressed my face as I looked onto the streets of the quaint town. It was quiet and the streets were empty, except for the restaurant. I was pleased I’d chosen to see this place one last time. It was one of my favorite towns to visit. Even though I wasn’t planning on sleeping in the room again, I’d paid for one last night, so I left my luggage and my teddy bear, which I’d had since childhood. I wasn’t going to need any of those anymore, but I didn’t want to bring them with me. I wanted to leave my belongings in that room because that was the last place that felt like home. As I left my room, I looked back and felt sorrow seeing the teddy bear on the bed, leaning on its side and looking toward me, as if it were sad to see me leave.
The drive to the canyon was gorgeous. It was less than two hours, but I drove through green forest with fields of bright yellow daisies that changed to desert as the elevation increased. At the front gates of the Grand Canyon, I paid for a day pass. I parked my black 1967 Mustang in the parking lot and left my cell phone in the glove compartment. I retrieved a pen and recorded the make and model of my car, the license plate number, and the address of the hotel on a sheet of paper. Then I placed the paper into my wallet to ensure it would be found later, locked the car, walked a few feet, and turned around so that I could admire the Mustang, the car I’d always wanted. I was glad I bought and fixed my dream car. It took me a year to fix her, but she was worth it. She took me to places I needed to be. It was sad leaving her there by herself.
The trolley ride to the trailhead was peaceful. I was alone on the trolley as it was the off-season for tourists, which was good because I didn’t want children coming across what I was about to do. Plus, I didn’t want to be stopped by some Good Samaritan.
After the trolley dropped me off, I walked to the gift shop and bought a sports drink and bottle of water. I just needed enough electrolytes and water to get me to my intended spot. I chugged the energy drink and threw it in the trash, then stored the bottle of water in my cargo pants pocket.
I walked to edge of the trail and marveled at Grand Canyon’s beauty. I’d always said that pictures could never do the canyon justice; it had to be seen for oneself. I looked out into the canyon’s awe-inspiring vastness. Who knew wear and tear could make something so beautiful?
The time on my black Fossil watch read nearly 8:00 a.m. I estimated the hike would take four hours to travel five miles. I took one last look of the entire canyon and then started my way.
The hike was easy, since I was working with gravity. By the time I reached the three-mile mark, I’d seen only twenty hikers, the last one an hour ago.
I stared down into the canyon, where I could see my final destination. Another hour to get there. The morning’s temperature had been a wonderful 72 degrees, but now it felt like a 100. The sun was starting to burn my forehead as I kept hiking to my destination. I chugged the last of my water and placed the empty bottle back into my pocket. Strange how I still cared about littering.
I estimated another 200 yards to go as I walked to my spot. I glanced at my watch again. It was nearing 1:30 p.m. The hike had taken longer than I’d imagined. I trembled as I made my final steps to my destination. I was both frightened and relieved about what would happen next. The life I had would never be the same. Circumstances unseen chose me, but I was the one who’d made the decision.
I walked to the edge of the canyon and sat on the cliff. It was quietly pleasant and serene. The only tourists in visual range were the ones rafting on the Colorado River, about one thousand feet below me. I sat there for what seemed like hours, sitting at the center of the most beautiful place on earth. I sat there by the beautiful imagery, engulfed by the colors of time painted on the canyon walls. Looking west, I saw nothing but clear skies. To the east, dark clouds formed in the distance. The muffled sound of thunder echoed in the canyon. I didn’t want a storm to ruin this day. I’d already had too many storms ruin my life.
I took one last look at the place in which I’d come to find peace, then pulled out my wallet and confirmed the paper with the hotel and my car information was still there. I looked at my license and read my name aloud, “Rick Esperanza.” I wanted to forget that name.
I placed my wallet back into its original pocket, then reached into my cargo pants pocket and took out my gun. I was surprised nobody had noticed the clunky bulge in my pocket, not even the park rangers. Given today’s age of school, mall, and movie theater shootings, the rangers seemed complacent, or maybe they weren’t used to looking for people with guns.
I held the Glock 30 in my hands, staring at it. I’d loaded the weapon with eleven .45 caliber hollow point rounds, but I only needed one.
I felt indifferent at this point. I thought I’d try to talk myself out of it or be more fearful. Even though I’d been taught through my Catholic upbringing that what I was doing was the worst of all sins, a spit in God’s face, I just didn’t care anymore. Tired and empty, I was done with this world. My life was over long before I made the trip to the canyon.
I thought this would be the part when a miracle would happen, but I sat there in silence the only sound the wind flowing through the canyon. I looked to the east one last time and watched the storm clouds growing larger, drifting my direction. I looked to the west. Nothing but sunshine and clear skies over the Colorado River. I kept my gaze west as I placed the barrel against my temple and my finger on the trigger. I wanted the last image to be a beautiful ending and not another storm. Slowly, I pulled the trigger, my eyes westward. I was glad I’d seen the canyon one last time. My eyes closed involuntarily as I gently squeezed the trigger.
“Please save me,” I pleaded to the unknown.
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