I am awakening now, as if from a dream, yet I am sure that nothing I just experienced was a product of somnolence, nor that it was a hallucination, brought on either by any chemical indulgence (I stoutly deny having ingested any substance of dubious composition), or by some form of dementia (I am indeed growing older, but I am not so old as that!)

No, what I just endured—I say “endured” because my consciousness is at present saturated in an overwhelming intimation of doom and despair, even though some of what I experienced was certainly far from unpleasant, as the reader will presently understand—has me in a state not altogether unlike one who rises from sleep…except that circumstances heavily militate against any such possibility.

Let me explain just what happened before I “slept,” and apprehended such events which could not simply have been a “dream,” in order that you, my reader, my compatriot, my confidant, may have the story in its fullness, so you may in turn judge for yourself where, if anywhere, the factuality of my account ceases and the fantastical events begin.

I recently attempted suicide.

I say “attempted,” but I thought I succeeded. I could even have sworn to that effect.

Not that my swearing on the matter would have much mattered, mind you, since no one would have heard me, since I was dead, or thought that I was, anyhow.

The precipitating event to my attempted suicide was this: at my job, I had my boss reprimand me over something foolish. I had my phone out momentarily, checking something during a lull. I didn’t see him pass by my desk at that very second. He promptly called me into his office and informed me that work time was valuable and shouldn’t be spent doing non-work related things, like checking one’s Instagram account on one’s cellphone. I told him that I wasn’t checking my Instagram (in fact, I was checking my email, only to find that nothing worth reading had turned up), but he held his hand up and said the specifics didn’t matter, that I needed to stay off my phone during work hours. I assured him that I would stay off my phone from henceforth, and exited his office.

Returning to my desk, I thought the following to myself: you are 53 years of age. You took the bus this morning to get to your job. You just got reamed out by a 35-year-old (or thereabouts) man who drives a sports car to work. You have few prospects to find work elsewhere, given your field of expertise and the current job market. 15 years ago, you were gainfully employed as a college instructor of English and happily married to a woman who loved you. Now you’re working at a job you hate with a boss you hate, and your once-loving wife has left you in the dust.

 It doesn’t get better. It won’t get better. Even if it stays the same, it won’t be the same; it will be worse.

At that moment, when one would gather I would feel quite depressed, I was instead infused with a sudden attack of levity, gaiety, and mirth. I even began to chuckle to myself. Was I going mad? Perhaps. But madness, which I admit to having had a touch of from time to time (being an “artist,” specifically an author), had never before felt so good! A mere quarter of an hour later, I had departed the premises of my former workplace, after having opened my boss’ door, informed him that he was an ass, and that I was quitting (in that order), before giving the startled secretary (who was half my age) an affectionate kiss at the door, before spinning around with a zesty sashay dance move as I whistled some tune unknown to anyone, including myself.

Then I was home in my sweat-scented studio apartment. I had removed my belt, fashioned it into a death collar, and tied it to a ceiling frame which seemed sturdy enough to support my weight. I moved my tiny kitchen table into the bedroom, then clambered atop it. Surveying my gently swinging handiwork at eye-level, I again found myself breaking into peals of laughter. This time, unlike at the office, I let loose with some full-on belly laughs. I remember saying something like, “Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself, but I’m no Jeffrey Epstein!” Or maybe I just thought those words, or words to that effect, before grabbing the belt-noose, slipping it over my head, and leaping off the table…


I distinctly recall being suspended there, hanging by my neck, filled with extreme terror, my legs kicking helplessly, my throat emitting horrid little involuntary wails and animalistic grunts. I knew, without knowing, that I was enduring my death throes. Then a loud crack vibrated through my neck and head, an immense spasm of pain flared up in my loins before dissipating like a spent bulb, and all went dark.


I cannot say just how long I dwelt in that darkness. It felt like a long time. I won’t say it was “like an eternity,” because I have not yet experienced eternity, and I feel that I cannot make such a comparison, even hyperbolically. And after all that has happened, I must say that my heart trembles before the very notion of “eternity,” and all that it portends…

Presently, I became aware of myself again. I felt myself—how shall I say it?—embodied once more. Through the darkness, it was as though I had slipped outside of my bodily frame. There was no terror to that sensation; it was more like losing consciousness than anything else. But I did have the inchoate yet nevertheless distinct feeling of having been in some sense transported somewhere. Where was I?

I opened my eyes and tried to regain my bearings. I knew I was somewhere familiar, but couldn’t quite place it. I had come to in a clearing, and I saw before me, in the mid-distance, a row of houses. Without contemplating what I was doing, I strode closer to these dwelling places. My legs were wobbly at first, as they might be in the morning after a long sleep, but presently I managed to regain my balance. Though my neck had snapped (I had both heard and felt it happen), there was now no pain whatsoever in that region of my body. My clothes, I noted, were the exact same ones I had been wearing on the day I stepped into my homemade noose.

Good thing I didn’t hang myself naked, I reflected, with a sort of grim jocularity. I realized that I still retained my bodily shame of nudity. How then could I truly be in the afterlife? Not that I knew much about how things were in the spirit realm, mind you, but I somehow suspected that if I were truly in a realm other than the earthly one, be it Heaven (doubtful), Hell, Purgatory, or some hitherto unknown place, that I would no longer wish to be clothed, having likely returned to an Edenic state of spirit. That I had indeed been transported I could not doubt, but if I were still on the Earth I knew all too well, then what transport had occurred?

All this while, as my mind was pondering such matters, my feet, having gained stability, were bringing me closer to a place I had, seemingly unconsciously, chosen as my destination. I now stood directly behind one of the houses. Two realizations then immediately struck me at once, hitting my brain like a double-thunderbolt and stunning me so hard that I nearly toppled over with shock.

The first was that I recognized the house. It was the little, one-bedroom hovel where my wife and I had lived over two decades ago, during the time that I had attended graduate school. The second was that, within the kitchen window of the one-bedroom hovel which I was now so inexplicably witnessing, as if the past were suddenly the present, I espied my wife, just as she had looked over two decades ago.

She was apparently cleaning a dish in the kitchen sink; her eyes were downcast, accompanying the accomplishment of this mundane domestic task. Thus, she didn’t see me, even though I now crouched (I had unthinkingly flung myself into this position immediately upon recognizing both her and the house) a mere distance of something like 20 feet away, my person albeit partly obscured by the withered leaves of the dying oak tree which—I now recalled, though I had scarcely noticed it at the time—occupied much of our backyard.

I remained where I was, immobilized by astonishment. Was I dreaming? Had I dreamt everything, including my humiliation at the hands of my boss, including my suicide attempt, including my inexplicable transport into the past?

Presently (ha! How very pregnant that word “presently” now strikes my mind), my wife left the kitchen area and departed from my sight, before appearing again in the living room.

And now a most peculiar thing happened—yes, even stranger than all that I had heretofore experienced!—I suddenly became aware that I could, if I wished, be invisible to others. Without even reflecting upon the likely ramifications and consequences of this choice, I instantly willed myself to accomplish this transition, and stepped forward from the moribund oak tree, walking straight up to the rear living room window.

My wife, I saw, was reclining on the sofa. She had switched on the television, and was watching some reality show about a bunch of mostly attractive young people forced to live together in the same house. I now had time to take in all of her figure, just as it had looked 22 years ago. She was wearing that little light blue frock that had always pleased me, because of how it both looked “professional” on her but also most beguiling showcased her legs, making for a most fetching juxtaposition of the chaste and the lascivious. After gawking at her for around ten minutes, I cast a glance at the clock I recalled being on the wall, and saw that it was just past five o’clock; she must have just returned from work.

I found myself growing ever more furious need to make my presence known to her. Damn the consequences, I thought, I want her to see me! But just as my mounting desire was about to make me commit a rash act, something took place that made me dive for cover, forgetting for a second that I was invisible.

That is, I, and by “I,” I mean my younger self, walked in the door. (I had been so transfixed with ogling my young wife in her professional yet appealingly revealing light blue dress that I hadn’t even heard myself pull up into the driveway, get out, and walk toward the entrance.)

I saw myself…and immediately fell to the ground, forgetting my power to go undetected to the eye, just from the shock of viewing myself as I had looked 22 years ago. I had been thinner back then, with more hair, but was still clad in the T-shirt and khaki combo that I still generally favored now. I saw myself throw my bookbag down—I must have returned from my grad school classes for the day—and advance towards my wife, who for her part leapt up, and strode toward me. Then we—my younger wife, and the younger me—caught each other up in one another’s arms, joined lips; our tongues tangled; the younger me became ever more wonton, plunging his hands beneath my wife’s dress, squeezing her behind, then picking her up and pushing her against the wall with such force that it knocked several books off the bookshelf, but this occurrence did not turn either of their attention away from the task at hand; in mere seconds, with incredible dexterity, he had flung her dress over her head, removed her panties and unhooked her bra; now naked before him, she gazed into his eyes with a sort of awe, and that awe soon transformed into ecstasy as he undid his pants and rammed himself hard into her, causing her to groan and gasp as she dug her nails into his back; with each thrust, and the subsequent thud of her body against the wall, the bookshelf flung another book to the floor, as if strewing appreciative tributes to the fiercely copulating couple’s shared, and continually mounting, passion. Eventually she keened loudly, with a peculiar solemnity, into his ear, signifying her immense satiation; then he picked her up again, and brought her to the couch, where his still generous thrusts awakened her ardor anew, and she sang with operatic bliss as he bit one of her nipples whilst squeezing the other the other between thumb and forefinger; this time, he joined her in climax, adding his voice to hers to celebrate their moment of shared spasmodic release…

I finally turned away, tears in my eyes. I knew all of those sounds of hers, which I had for so many years had the privilege to elicit from her during our moments of intimacy, but it had been ever so long since they had met my ears. Hearing them now was like seeing a friend, albeit ever so briefly, rise from the dead, before once more vanishing from my sight. Thus, while undeniably aroused, as any voyeur would be under such circumstances, even disregarding the extraordinary context in which I found myself, in which the voyeur (that is, me) also happened to be an older version of the one upon whom he was spying (that is, younger me), I found my heart awash with a vast array of emotions far transcending mere lust.

Chief among this brigade of feelings which violently assailed me as I lay there in the dimming shade of the moribund oak was sadness. I wept for what had been, and would never return: the love that my young wife had felt could easily be witnessed, not just in the grunts, groans, shouts, and sighs she had emitted (those, again, may have attributable to mere lust), but in the eyes she had cast upon me after I had undressed her so efficiently, displaying so clearly the reverence she clearly held towards my person at the time.

And yet, it had died! All of it, all of her love, reverence, admiration, and awe, was gone, gone, gone! I walked away from the lovers’ hovel, leaving my younger self and my younger wife to bask in the honeyed ambrosia of their post-coital exhilaration; I continued to walk, and before I knew it darkness now held sway, and a chilly breeze overtook me. I had no money in my wallet, and my check card was no good, having been issued two decades in the future. I thus had no means of transport, nor means of finding food or shelter, absent begging or squatting.

My best prospect, indeed my only prospect, was to return to the very lovers’ hovel which I had fled with such a flood of sorrow engulfing my heart mere hours before. I promptly reversed course and, with some difficulty—as night had thoroughly fallen, and it had been literally decades since I had traversed these roads previously—I managed to find my way back to that notorious newlywed fuck-palace…

The lovers therein were now cuddled on the (surely still-stained) sofa, watching a movie together. It was some sort of 90s era rom-com that I couldn’t recall, featuring actors I vaguely recognized but could not name, on videotape (I saw, plain as day, the Blockbuster cartridge, itself now a wondrous relic of a bygone era, lying open on the shelf). The so-recently feverishly schtupping husband and wife were now sedate, munching happily on caramel popcorn from a shared canister.

Just as I had previously coveted their lovemaking from my invisible post just outside the backyard window, so now my covetousness now grew all the more fervent. Indeed, I passionately desired everything that they possessed and that I lacked, both from the most mundane to the most intangible. I coveted, first and foremost, their love for one another. Yet in almost equal degree, I coveted  their shared shelter and comfort (while for my part I shivered in the cold next to my companion, the dying oak, which, truth be told, offered little in the way of warmth or commiseration). Increasingly, I likewise coveted the caramel popcorn they were now promiscuously shoving into their mouths. It had been several hours, the better part of a day, since I had emerged into the apparent past, and I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything yet.

I felt so bereft and so forlorn, in fact, that I began to weep anew, to the point where I had to will myself to stop, for fear that the lovers on the coach just a few feet away, but within the walls of their heated lovers’ hovel, might be startled and alarmed to hear my phantom sobs.


For all installments of “The Man Who Cuckolded Himself,” click here.