Mental Suicide – A short story by Arnold Peters

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Mental Suicide - Table of Contents

Grey Rock, North Dakota. Would that be possible?”. I said that I didn’t think that it was probable but I wondered.

Vacation time came around and I found that a motor trip was inevitable with the town of Grey Rock as my destination. I had to be sure. Time had passed but I had never accepted the town’s belief in Johnny’s death. To my way of thinking his body never having been found, was a good omen. Why I still wanted confirmation I do not know; perhaps I still felt sorry for the raw deal he had received.

As you will remember if you have ever been in Grey Rock, it is a small but attractive tourist town. It’s business section consists mainly of a hotel, several general purpose stores and a large modern summer resort. The hotel was full without a room to spare so I went to the resort. It was a better class place than I had expected to find, and the room which I was shown to was both spacious and well furnished. Before retiring, I left word to be called at nine o’clock.

When I reached the dinning hall next morning, I found that I was almost late for breakfast. Truly this was a home of early risers. The meal that was set before me was very appetizing. It was good to see bacon again, and I set in to do it justice. I was almost finished when a tall dark lady and two little boys entered and I could not help hearing the waiter ask the lady if Mr. Murdock would be along soon. The treatment that she received left no doubt in my mind that here was someone of special importance.

Then Johnny entered. Time had been kind to him. He was the same as I remembered him. So many happy times together made it impossible that I could be mistaken. He passed quite close to my table and I called “Johnny, Johnny Wilson” but it made no impression on him of any kind. I knew that there was only one way to be sure and that was to see his left hand. Johnny had a scar on his left hand caused by a sharp skate many years ago. I watched carefully and sure enough there it was. I got up slowly and walked out of the room. Why did he not remember me, or who was he for that matter? Just then I came upon the old gardener who was busy trimming a small hedge on the front lawn. Seeing my bewilderment, he asked, “Anything wrong sir?” and then an idea struck me. “How long have you been here?” I asked. There was no hesitation as he replied, “Since the resort began eleven years ago, sir.” Why I suddenly remembered that was not long after Johnny disappeared. “Has Mr. Murdock be here that long?” I asked, and then the whole story came out. He was eager to talk and I proved to be an attentive audience.