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The Lonely Vine

The Lonely Vine
by Jace Daniel (b. 1969)

The night seemed as good as any. Brainstorming ways to get it done before morning, it occurred to him that the faded green fifty-foot garden hose would save him a special trip to Home Depot for the length of cheap rope he didn’t have. He unscrewed the hose counter-clockwise from the backyard faucet in the night’s quiet darkness, the surplus water purging over his closed fist, still warm from the day, dripping down his knuckles.

He dimmed the the garage’s moody track lighting to its lowest visible setting. Electronic candlelight. Wrapping the end of the thick hose around the base leg of the work bench a few times, he rigged a makeshift knot, pulling it tight, the rubber hose collapsing beneath the tension, gripping itself to the old two-by-four lumber base of the work bench as it regurgitated the week’s water from both ends.

The garden hose was heavier than rope, but light enough. With a disregard for neatness, he climbed to the top of the workbench with the sloppily coiled length of hose, running it over the rafter closest to the wall. Standing atop the workbench and reaching with his arms, he heaved the rest of the hose towards the center of the garage and over the center rafter, letting the hose fall to an uncoiled pile on the cleared floor. Too long. Jumping back down to the floor, he pulled the slack, a dozen feet or so, and rewrapped his work at the base leg of the workbench, letting the other end dangle from the center of the room. The hose hung from the garage ceiling like a lonely vine, seven feet from the floor, water dribbling from its end into a small puddle on the floor that would be dry in a couple days.

He stood in the puddle with his arms to the sky. While he’d never even tied a noose with conventional rope, he instinctively remembered enough from his vague memories of a childhood sailing expedition to rig a workable four-inch loop at the end of the thick rubber hose, the metal threaded end of the hose limply dangling from a few inches of slack, still dribbling with stale rubber-smelling tap water. He pulled a couple feet of the hose through the eyehole, forming a second loop large enough to fit a basketball through, and let his masterpiece dangle from the ceiling.

The office chair was on wheels. Rolling it to the center of the garage, he stood upon it, his feet set apart at shoulder width, keeping his balance in an oddly contradictory attempt to keep from falling and injuring himself. He braced his feet on the chair in a surfer’s stance, standing still, keeping the chair from moving on its wheels, reaching to grab the dangling noose of hose and place it around his neck. Reaching behind his cranium with both hands, he gently yanked the slack on the hose, letting the rubber cling beneath his jaw, just above the Adam’s apple. Reflecting on an old party conversation he had a with a doctor friend on the effectiveness of lynching as a form of execution, he rotated the noose around to the side of his head, the hose extending to the rafter from just below his right ear. If the doctor’s theory was correct, this would be the most painless, quickest way, as the neck would immediately snap sideways, achieving immediate unconsciousness, asphyxiation being merely an after-effect.

He decided to count down from five, feeling the wheeled office chair delicately jiggling on its wheels beneath him, as if to be granting him one last sensation of complete control, ready to fly across the room on his command with a simple shift of weight.


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