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Chapter Thirty

The family had all been sleeping for some time when Tommy
Troulson got up to use the bathroom. He had been in bed for hours
but had not slept. The talk he'd heard at Kingdom Hall kept echoing in
his ears, keeping him awake. "Bloodguilt . . . sin . . . eating blood . . .
God's anger . . ." -- the message was so plain and so powerful. He felt
crushed under its weight.

Flushing the toilet, he watched the whirlpool disappear down the
drain and wished it had been blood rather than urine that he had
been getting rid of. Then, as he shut off the bathroom light, it was as
if a light went on in his head and suddenly he could see clearly how to
solve his problem.

"That's it!" he exclaimed aloud, turning and sitting down on the
toilet seat cover in the dark. "I have blood that isn't mine. I have to
give it back. That's why I wasn't allowed to jump from the window at
the hospital: I would have died with that blood still inside me, and I
would have remained God's enemy forever. But if I give this blood
back to Jehovah God, then I'll be free."

The lyrics were joyful, but the tune was not. Tommy spoke in a
dull monotone like a robot. His pain was so intense that he could not
feel joy, nor even imagine joy as a goal to reach for. But he did seek
relief. He writhed in agony to escape the oppressive burden
smothering his soul. And now, at last, he saw an opening.

"Yes, that's it! Why didn't I think of it before? In brother Sturgis's
talk he said that when the Jews killed an animal they had to pour its
blood out on the ground. They had to let the blood drain out of it
before it would be clean to eat. So, if I let this blood drain out of me
I'll be clean again too."

Standing up, Tommy turned on the bathroom light again and
opened the medicine cabinet. His father used an electric razor, but
there were always a few disposable razors around. Their purpose was
never discussed, but he knew his mother used them to shave her legs.
He found two of them.

Setting the razors on the edge of the tub, Tommy plugged the drain
and turned on both hot and cold faucets. He adjusted the flow to get
the water about as hot as he could stand it for a bath. He remembered
this from a TV program on mercy killing that his dad had shut off in
the middle when he walked into the room and found Tommy watching
it. The program told about a man who cut his wrists in a hot tub. The
relaxing warm water somehow helped with the pain and with the
blood flow. Still, for good measure, Tommy took down from the
medicine cabinet the can of pain-killer spray that his mother used
whenever he got cuts or bruises.

He soaked both wrists with the spray. Then, as the bathtub
continued filling, he set about breaking open the plastic head of one of
the razors to expose the full cutting edge of the blade. The first blade
snapped in half before he could get it out with tweezers, so he went to
work on the second using a pair of toenail clippers. This razor broke
just right, leaving some plastic on one end, with at least half an inch of
blade sticking out.

The tub was nearly full now, so Tommy climbed in. As he did so
the water rose and reached the overflow drain. "Good," he said, "I'll
leave the faucet on so water will keep coming in and will wash the
blood down the drain."

Picking up the razor with the exposed blade Tommy bowed over it
in prayer: "Jehovah God, this blood belongs to you. I'm sorry for
taking it. I'm giving it back to you now. Amen." Gritting his teeth, he
cut deep into his left wrist. The pain brought tears to his eyes, but he
plunged his left arm into the warm water and it felt a little better,
bearable at least. As blood swirled through the water in the tub,
turning it pink, he thought of Moses turning the Nile River to blood.
Yes, Jehovah God would be pleased. Quickly, he transferred the blade
to his left hand and slashed his right wrist -- not quite as deeply, but
the resulting blood flow seemed the same.

Laying his head back on a folded bath towel Tommy stretched
himself out and held both bleeding wrists below the water's surface.
They hurt, but no worse than a sprain, he thought. He was surprised,
though, that he was still alive and conscious, having imagined that it
would all be over instantly.

"I didn't say Goodbye to anyone," he whispered with a sigh. Lifting
his left wrist above the water, he dabbed his right index finger in the
fresh flow of blood and thought of writing on the wall with it, but then
decided that all of the blood should go down the drain. His parents
would understand when they found his body in the morning, all white
and clean, with the offensive blood washed away. Besides, whether
from the warmth of the water or from the blood loss, Tommy felt
light-headed and sleepy. He didn't feel like standing up and writing
on the wall. "Goodbye, Dad. Goodbye, Mom," he whispered, and
drifted off.

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