Therapy was the first thing they offered. I witnessed a suicide and the first thing they ask is if I want to see a shrink. I said no. But honestly, I didn’t know. It was a weird day and I couldn’t think straight. I felt pressured, but I felt fine.
“No” I said, “I don’t need to see anyone, I didn’t even know the guy.”
News vans started showing up. There was also the buzz of helicopters outside the mall. They all started pointing to me. Other shoppers, ones who had heard me scream, ones who had seen me near the circle of security guards began pointing at me when talking to the police officers and news crews. I just stood there in the doorway of my store, waiting. I’m not sure exactly what I was waiting for, but I knew that I couldn’t leave just yet.
I talked to officers. I talked to the news. I told them what happened. I told them that I forgot my wallet in my car. That’s why I left my store. I saw a man arguing with security, nothing out of the ordinary. I was outside maybe three minutes. I told them when I came back in, I nearly ran right into a security guard because I was looking down and messing with my wallet. I had gotten the zipper stuck on a dollar bill. I needed that dollar bill for lunch. But the security guard yelled at me before I had a chance to run into him. He shouted at me, “Get back, get out of the way!”
I was still looking down when he said all that. His voice startled me and when I looked up, that’s when it happened. The man, the one from before who was arguing with that bald security guy, had put a gun under his chin and pulled the trigger.
It looked like a scene from one of those television crime shows. The blood was so red, it looked fake. The man fell so casually to the floor only to be trampled by another guard who began ransacking his pockets. It didn’t matter if he had other weapons. He was dead. I froze.
Who was this man? Why did he bring a gun to a mall? What argument could have been so heated that the only solution was death? Was this man alone? What was his name?
I never learned his name. I learned that he was the boyfriend of the girl who ran the hair care cart outside my store. I learned that they had had an argument that morning and he followed her into work. She called security on him because he wouldn’t leave. He became hostile, they said. It was a blessing he didn’t hurt anyone else. Thank god he shot himself and not anyone else.
I wondered if people would have been more concerned for him had he chosen another way to die. My friend’s brother committed suicide a year later by hanging himself. They talked about what an amazing young man the world was going to miss. The guy at the mall was praised for deciding to shoot himself and not shooting the other people around him. No one was worried about missing him.