I’m dead.

Face down in the waves of San Francisco Bay. I imagine a shark will come along and eat me, but I don’t care.

I wonder when my body will start to rot, if my arms and legs will fall off. The thought resonates inside my head, but I don’t feel anything.

I drift with the current, probably out to sea. Shapes cloaked in darkness undulate beneath me. They are coming. Why should I care? Bits of flotsam drift past my open eyes: a silvery gum wrapper; something that looks like sewage, brown and irregular; a plastic bottle, half-empty or half-full. The thought of being a half-empty sort of guy seems funny in a twisted way.
The past few months have been nothing but misery. She blamed me for everything: the relationship, or lack of one, as she liked to say. Living together didn’t count in her book, even though we both had agreed that we were exclusive with one another. She stopped dropping hints about getting married over a year ago; then she beat me over the head with it. I couldn’t do it, not again, not yet.

She leaned back on her pillows and scowled when I told her how much I cared for her. “Words are cheap,” she said. “You need to shit or get off the pot.”

“I hate that expression.”

“Too bad. Marry me or I’ll leave.”

She didn’t come home the next night or the night after. Her car was gone and she had taken a small bag, having left while I pretended to search for a job. She hadn’t even bothered to say goodbye. I should have seen it coming. What I didn’t know was why she put up with a loser like me. I never told her that I loved her.

I'm dead, I think. She’ll know how much I love her when she finds out I jumped from the bay bridge.

The half-empty bottle tumbles into watery darkness and disappears. Will I sink? What if my body is never found? Will she even care? I know she loves me. I know it, and I want her to know that I love her, too.

Strands of toilet paper swirl around me; clods of crap cloud the water; the unmistakable silhouette of a shark glides through the murk. A silver-dollar sized eye glares as it passes. The current is flowing into the bay. I should have checked the tide charts before jumping, but I was so distraught.

Something bumps me. A jaw with rows of razor teeth slashes past my face followed by the slender gray torpedo shape of a shark undulating into the depths. Wooden crates, garbage bags, bits of tree limbs, and toilet paper—gobs and gobs of toilet paper curl around me.

The flotsam-filled sea churns, and something breaks free. A cloud of red fills the water. My God! The shark is eating me! Its black eyes stare like dead glass marbles as its jaws clamp and thrash on my mangled leg—hit again and another piece, the bloody stump of my arm, swings past my eyes. I don’t feel anything; nevertheless, to witness my own dismemberment, I want to scream, the raw throat ripping sensation tearing my esophagus to shreds. I want my heart to pound, each pulse like a hammer striking iron, reverberating, blood throbbing in my neck—but nothing registers except the numbness of dead meat.

I tumble through murk, a forest of shit and yellow-brown clumps. A dismembered Barbie head bobs beneath the waves.

Then I see her. Her dead eyes glazed over with filth from the bay, her flesh, pale and gray, her head swinging with the waves on the gore-filled remains of her torso. The green dress, the one I always liked, hangs in shreds from her neck.

Why did you do it? I wasn’t worth it. The urge to kill myself burns inside me…again.

A crab crawls from between her parted lips, a smile. She must know that I jumped for her. God, let her know it.

My words weren’t cheap. I love you.

"Words Are Never Enough" Copyright: © 2009 Tom Beck


  1. great, nasty descriptions... nicely tied from beginning to end. interesting concept with the spirit-like after life and tremendous romantic effect in the strength of one's passion as the character finally connects the dots... far too late. thanx for the story!

    this blog is super!

  2. good story, Tom - I enjoyed the twist at the end - it was sad in a morbid romantic way. The disgusting descriptions of the sewage were fantastic - really set the mood of waste - both deaths were a waste in the end. nicely done!