The Guidance Counselor

by Mark Wynn

Jonathon Riggs had just gotten married and took a new position at St James' Repository of Intelligent Thought. As he looked down the long hallway of lockers he wondered of his new bride, who was at that very moment unboxing the house.

Everything was going perfect for Mr. Riggs. He approached his new office door and read his name and the title Guidance Counselor. He went in and sat behind his desk. At the end of the day he would repeat this process in reverse.

So it continued for 6 months. In those six months he noticed the acute attention paid to certain students. One kid everyone noticed and ignored at the same time was a kid everyone called "Garglelips".

Garglelips seemed troubled. He got beat up a few times by unknown assailants on school property. He was a noticeably dark and moody kid. He wore a trench coat that made everyone nervous. Once he wore a gas mask to school and it was Mr Riggs' job to talk him out of it. He seemed like a problem to the other faculty too. Secretly Mr. Riggs pegged Garglelips as a future shooter and always took note of his location in the morning.

One day Garglelips took a noticeable beating and was sent to speak with Mr. Riggs. As Garglelips sat across from Mr Riggs bleeding and mumbling something, Mr Riggs noticed for the first time how Garglelips wore all black and his face was painted white and with his red bloody lips he looked like a vampire.

Mr. Riggs interrupted Garglelips and asked his first question. "George, do you ever feel like killing yourself?" This was always the first question Mr. Riggs asked. He knew if the kid looked up at him he wasn't thinking about it. Garglelips did not look up.

That immediately caught Mr Riggs attention. That's the first kid that didn't look up! He found it hard to control the adrenalin rush as he sat there silently breathing. This is where the plan got vague. There are so many variables it seemed like too difficult a question to answer hypothetically. But here he was finally.

He listened to George continue to mumble something about his circumstances. Mr. Riggs finally consented fully to his idea about Garglelips. This was the kid deserving of what his colleagues referred to as "Plan F".

Mr. Riggs sensing a moment said, "Between me and you George, suicide is not for the weak. Its terrifying. That's why people don't do it. And let's face it most people are cowards and most people have some "reason" (his air quotes) to keep living. Only the individual knows. No one else can be your judge." He sent Garglelips home with a copy of "The Bridge", a doc about people jumping off the Golden Gate. Mr Riggs ushered Garglelips out and closed the office door knowing he had tried to do his best.

Less than a week later Garglelips failed to show for class. Mr. Riggs was on high alert and thought often of his handgun in his lock-box. As he stood at his office door peeking through the crack at the row of windows in the front... the name Garglelips caught his ears.

Two girls were talking as they passed by and he distinctly heard the word suicide. He exhaled a deep forgotten breath and the door slowly closed.


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