Acute

Renard Billings shot himself in Montana. He was forty-nine. Before he shot himself, Billings was a juggler.

Billings would wake up every morning at four o’clock. He would take a bath in his bathroom. It was a small bathroom, and his bathtub was a big copper pot. It wasn’t really a bathroom. Billings took his baths in his house. His house was one big room, with a sink and his copper pot in one corner and his bed in the other. There was also a table in the middle of the room.

After he took his bath and brushed his teeth, Billings would put on his one pair of clothes and climb onto his unicycle and leave his house.

He kept his clothes folded on his table. That was what the table was for.

Billings left so early in the morning because he wanted to be the first face people saw in the middle of town. Before he left in the morning Billings would take his juggling balls.

When Billings couldn’t find his juggling balls he would use lemons. When life gave Billings lemons he juggled them.

He juggled in the center of town, in Montana. If he made enough money in a day he would buy himself dinner. If he did not make enough money he would buy lemons.

It took several days before they found Renard Billings’ body. The neighbors said there was an acute smell coming from his house. They found Billings in his bathtub.

The paper would say they found him in his bathroom but Billings’ bathroom was his one big room. The paper knew Billings’ bathroom was just a copper pot in the corner but if they wrote ‘Billings died in his house’ their readers would wonder what room he died in. That was what readers would ask the editor when they saw him in town.

They also asked what an acute smell smelled like. It was a small town.

A lot of the town wished Billings had not shot himself. But Billings had not asked them about their wishes before he did it. Most people do not ask each other about their wishes.

One morning Billings woke up and took a bath. Instead of putting on his clothes after, he shot himself. That was all he did all day.

I should probably write what part of Montana Billings died in. Otherwise readers will wonder and ask me if they see me. They will say, ‘What part of Montana did Billings die in?’ And I will say, ‘I forgot to write that.’

They will say, ‘It’s not your fault. You were probably upset because Billings shot himself.’

‘Yes,’ I will say. ‘I’m glad you understand.’

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