The middle door

Isolation at the End of a Tie

I was thinking bout Robin Williams when I wrote this one. Him, and all of the others that nobody knew, or will ever know.

By Michael Morse

The landlord was waiting outside.

“Haven’t seen him in a week.”

“Is that unusual?”

“He stays to himself mostly, but there’s usually some sign of life up there, footsteps, a TV, doors closing, you know.”

Yeah, I know. Wish I didn’t. Wish I had some Vicks for under my nose.

“How old is he?”

“Not too old, fifty maybe,”

Fifty. Not too old. Ha ha.

We entered the rear hallway, stairs led strait up to a landing and a door. There was a shamrock decal stuck there, greasy fingerprints around the doorknob.

“Is the smell normal?”

“He’s not the cleanest tenant, but this is bad.”

“Yeah, it is.”

The landlord opened the door and the smell got worse. Kitchen, empty, some empty cans on a folding card table that served as his dinette, dirty dishes in the sink and on the counter, the refrigerator stood in the corner waiting for me to open it up. Nothing.

“Hello, anybody home?”

He was home alright, I could smell him. The trail led me to a door in the middle of three. Door number one, door number two, or door number three. One of the doors had a string of neckties tied together, starting at the door handle and going over the top.

“Rescue 1 to Fire Alarm, start the police to this address.”

“Roger Rescue 1, nature?”

“Possible suicide.”

I pushed the middle door; it gave a little but would not open. So I pushed a little harder.

“Here he is.”

It was a crime scene, but I needed to confirm the man was gone. I got the door open about a foot, squeezed through, and watched a dead man’s weight force the door shut. He had tied the last of the neckties around his neck, strung the rest over the top of the door, tied the last to the opposite side doorknob, kneeled in front of the door, inside his bedroom, facing the back of the door, and closed it.



Did he slam the door?

Did he lean into it?

I couldn’t figure out the mechanics of it and realized I was spending way too much time thinking about it. Everything inside him had let go; he was bloated, stiff, and dead.

Pictures of a woman and some kids had been pinned to the back of the door. I squeezed back through the doorway, pushing the body with the door.

Thankfully you can look at pictures, but they can’t look back.

“Does he have any friends or family?”

“He’s lived here for a year, since he got out of prison. Nobody visits that I’ve seen.”


Isolation kills just as effectively as disease, accidents, and hanging. Being part of the human race is vitally important. Everybody has moments in their lives, everybody hurts, and no man is an island. There was a time that I would leave a suicide scene and go off by myself and drink it away.

Talking things through is better, every time.

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