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    Charlie Smith

    21. The Lakes of Florida

    By Charlie Smith

    When I told my father I was going to kill myself he said, “I knew a man stuck his face in a chainsaw. Cut his own head in two.”

    We were on the back porch of the boat house, cutting chunks of sugar cane off peeled purple stalks. A half gallon jar of chilled green sugarcane wine sat on the table between us. We were both drunk as skunks.

    My father cupped his barbigerous head in one hand and stared off across the lake. Dusk was feeling its way out of the sky like a blue silent rain. I had been crying but I’d stopped. It was something I could turn on and off like an actor. My father put down his butcher knife, took a swig of wine from the jar, and looked me in the face. “I tried to kill myself once.”

    I didn’t say anything.

    “It was out in Australia during the war. This girl . . .”

    His voice trailed off. I wanted to hear more about the man who sliced his head in two, but it was my father’s turn to talk. He tapped his long forefinger nail musefully on the table. The water from the wine jar, mixed with cane drippings, had soaked into the cypress wood. In spots it had dried, leaving a fruit sugar dust.

    “How’d you do it?’ I said.

    “Do what?”

    “Commit suicide.”

    “By crocodile.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “As my implement. My weapon.” . . . Read More.

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