Suicide Attempt by Mario V. Farina

"Yes, he's here. Who shall I say is calling? Oh, Kathleen! It's so nice to have you call. I've heard a lot about you."
Steely eyed, Wanda turned to me. "It's your wife." I must have turned deathly white. "I don't want to talk to her." I mouthed the words.
Suicide Attempt
Suicide Attempt by Mario V. Farina
"I'm sorry, he can't come to the phone right now. Is there something I can do for you?" There was a pause. "My name? I'm Wanda Morgan. I live at 23 Aster place. You should drop over some day for tea." There was another pause. "That isn't very nice, Kathleen. Al tells me that you and he haven't lived together as man and wife for several years." "Oh? That's not what he told me! There must be some mistake. Were talking about the same person, aren't we?" Wanda glared at me. Her tone was pleasant but her face was purple with fury. "Al has told me all about you. You're a careless housekeeper. You made a mess of the household budget. You're uneducated. You are that Kathleen, aren't you?" She emphasized the word, "that." I was transfixed, unable to move a muscle or enter a sound. I couldn't believe the cruelty of Wanda as she revealed the things that I had told her. "Is the Al we're talking about the one who likes to watch an attractive woman dress and undress? The one who insists on having seconds when he makes love? The one who has a mole in the middle of his back?" She mentioned a physical feature that could have been known only by someone who had seen me naked. I was horrified. This was surely the end of our relationship! The sensible thing for me to do at this time was to leave this evil woman and never come back. Now, I knew what I should do, but could I? "Of course, I love him," Wanda was saying. "What do you think we've been doing while he wasn't with you? He was with me, in my bed." In my mind, I wanted to shout, "Kathleen, get off the phone! She's cutting you to shreds!" "I'm so glad you called, dear. Do come over for a little chat when you have the time." Wanda's voice dripped with sarcasm. She hung up and turned to me. "So," she hissed through her teeth. "You weren't having sex with her anymore, were you? You liar! Hypocrite, you devious bastard!" Without warning, she thrust out her hand and scratched the side of my face. I backed off. Pulling out a handkerchief, I dabbed at the blood. "You're vicious," I said. "What you said to Kathleen was wicked!" "That's nothing compared to what she deserves, you monster. You're just like her, two-faced. Both of you should be hauled off to the dump and buried under the slime! How I hate that evil woman! Damn her! I hope she suffers the pains of hell and dies!" "How can you say those things, Wanda? She's never done anything to you." "Not done anything? Really! Look at what she is. She's a leech. She does no work, yet has everything. She has it made. She is of no earthly worth to anyone. There's no reason for her to be alive. What do you mean she hasn't done anything?" She continued for a long time. Finally, I had had enough and was getting ready to leave. "Hey!" She called out. "Where do you think you're going? I didn't give you permission to leave!" She resumed her tirade. Suddenly, her face softened. "Oh darling," she cooed. "I do love you. Why are we at each other's throats? Together we can make it. Together, we can have it all. Al, leave her! Leave her today!" The sudden change in mood swept me off balance. I was contemplating how to answer. "I have to do some thinking!" I said, and rushed out of her house without the customary kiss. The next morning, I drove to her house, as I usually did before going to work. The door was locked. I needed to use the emergency key she had given me to enter. Walking into the bedroom, I saw that she was still asleep. "Wake up, Wanda," I said as I jostled her shoulder gently. "What, where am I?" She roused but appeared listless. "It's time to get up. Aren't you going to work?" She sat up in bed. She was wearing a faded pink nightgown, which was not as attractive as those she usually wore. She tried to rub the sleep out of her eyes. "I'm not going to work," she moaned. "I want to die. You have dashed any trust that I ever had for men and any desire I might have had to live!" She stumbled out of bed and staggered to the living room. I followed and watched her go to the liquor chest and take out a bottle of amaretto. This was her favorite liqueur. I was puzzled by what she was doing. She poured a tumbler full of the amber liquid, then went back to the bedroom and crawled into bed. Staying with her, I watched as she reached into the drawer of the night table and pulled out a bottle half filled with blue pills. "These are sedatives that my doctor prescribed," she said. "They contain codeine. I'm going to take all of them." I believed she was bluffing and made no effort to stop her. She opened the bottle and poured about a dozen pills into the palm of her hand and dumped all of them into her mouth. She washed them down with a couple of huge mouthfuls of amaretto. Now, I wondered whether she had really been bluffing though it had looked real enough! I tried to get the truth from her. "That was very funny," I quipped. "What were those things, Tic Tac's?" She did not respond. She poured more pills into her hand and moved it toward her mouth. I was ready this time. I clutched at her wrist and forced her to send the contents of her hand skittering across the floor. She began to cry bitterly. "You're no good!" she sobbed. "You've ruined me. You've ruined everything for both of us. We could have been so happy." Her words began to slur and I became convinced that Wanda was indeed trying to end her life. I hesitated for a moment, not sure what to do. "I'm going to call the ambulance," I said. "They'll take care of you." "Help me, I want to change into a prettier nightgown," she gasped between tears. I tried to help, but she was fading fast. She felt like dead weight in my arms. I picked up the phone and dialed 911. I said I needed an ambulance at once. I was assured that one would be at the house within a few minutes. I went to Sheila door and knocked, "Your mother is ill," I said through the door. "The ambulance will be here soon. Where is your sister?" The door open slowly, and Sheila poked her head out. She was barely awake. "Theresa is with dad. Mom called him last night and he came to pick her up. I don't want to go with the ambulance since I have a date with Patsy after school." She did not seem concerned that her mother was ill. "Please get up," I said. I hurried back to the bedroom. Somehow, Wanda had gotten out of bed and was lying on the floor. I tried to speak to her but she was unconscious. The ambulance people came and gently put Wanda on a cot. "I'll phone you later," I said to Sheila, "and tell you how your mother is. I'm sure she's going to be all right." The ambulance drove off and I followed to Harvard Memorial in my car. At the hospital I waited for no official invitation but went directly to the emergency room where several persons were already working over Wanda. As I watched, they pumped out her stomach and began calling to her to wake up. "I want to die," were her first words. "Get out of here everybody and let me die." The people around Wanda seemed to know that I was someone special to her and asked me questions. I told them that I thought she had taken too many sedatives containing codeine. With the answers I gave to their questions, I tried to keep open the possibility that it had all been an accident. It soon became obvious that Wanda was in no immediate danger, but I decided to stay at the hospital until I could talk to her. I called my manager at work and told her that there was an emergency in the family and that I would probably not be in that day. Then I called Wanda's manager and told him that she had taken an overdose of medicine and that she was at the hospital. Next, I tried to reach Sheila but she was not at home. My last call was to Kathleen. "Wanda is at Harvard Memorial," I said "she tried to kill herself. I called the ambulance and they took her to the hospital." I hung up not wanting to answer any questions. I asked myself why I had called her. Certainly, the welfare of Wanda was not one of the topics uppermost in her mind. Later, it came to me, that Kathleen was still the most important woman in my life. Wanda's gynecologist happened to be in the hospital at the time that she was admitted. He became aware of her presence and came to see how she was doing. Noticing me, he asked, "are you Mr. Stanton?" I responded affirmatively, wondering how he knew my name. Doctor Froehlich was a tall stocky man with a square face and a ruddy complexion. His hair was gray. He was balding. "How did this happen?" I told him. Then I asked whether Wanda had, at any time, been in real danger. "Probably not," he responded, "but without treatment, she could have been unconscious for a long time." Then he added, "She did this once before, you know." I didn't know. The name Otto Mellinger flickered through my brain. Wanda had once mentioned him to me as being a older man who had been very interested in her. "She's mentally not right," said the doctor. "Feigning suicide may be a ploy she uses to get attention. She may try it again," he continued. "I suggest you urge her to get professional help." "She's already seeing Dr. Cantor." "Ah, yes, good choice. I recommend that you talk with Doctor Cantor to see whether she you can help with Wanda's treatment." I promised to do so. Later in the day, Wanda was moved from the emergency room to a room on the fourth floor. I went there and found her asleep. I sat and waited until she awoke. "How are you feeling?" I asked. "All right." Her voice was subdued; there were no signs of anger. "Tell the children I'm all right?" "I tried to call Sheila, but she must have been at school. I'll call later. Theresa is with her father." "Tell Vernon I'm all right." Vernon was the father of the two girls. "I will." "Al, do you suppose we can make a new start?" "We can talk about that when you are discharged," I responded. In my mind, I knew that this would be impossible. I had resolved that I would attempt to repair the damage I had done to my marriage through an act of stupidity on my part some months before.

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