People kill themselves when they feel there’s no hope and they’re afraid to start over.  And that’s what happened to Johnny Tribout.  His wife not really a bad woman, it’s just that women don’t kill themselves when they feel like they need to start over.  They instead try to kill whatever impedes them from it.  She’d grown cold.  The power in a fading relationship going to whoever cares about it less.  But power isn’t happiness.  And as for Johhny Tribout’s suicide all I can say is I found something in it.  I found something in David Threnody’s response to it, a story of what that friendship meant to him, and in my research I found a statement given by Johnny Tribout’s eldest daughter to the police after his death.  I was able to talk with her, and she allowed me to disclose the information in it.  Johnny Tribout killed himself on his birthday.  The following transcript a record of the investigation into his death.  It perhaps explains better than I can the awful truth of what happened:

Detective Pelosa: 1 February 1975, the time is 1300.  Case Number 1203P7: John Amos Tribout.  Statement of Claire Anne Tribout to Detective Frank Pelosa on the incident of 22 January 1975, St. Clair County, Belleville, IL…  Would you please state your name and relationship to Mr. Tribout.

Claire Tribout:  Claire Anne Tribout.  I’m his daughter.

Detective Pelosa:  Can you please state in your own words what happened on the date in question.

Claire Tribout:  I was with friends.  I received a call from my mother.  She’d received a disturbing phone call from my father.  She was calm, but I could tell something was bothering her.  She said she was afraid my father had hurt himself.  I told her to call the police.  Officers went to his residence (he was staying at a friend’s house) and found him in the bedroom badly burned.  EMT personnel arrived on the scene and my father was sent by ambulance to St. John’s burn unit in St. Louis. 

Detective Pelosa:  He was still alive?

Claire Tribout:  Yes.  He had third degree burns across 90% of his body, but he was still alive.  The burn unit at St. John’s was unable to do any grafting.  He never regained consciousness.  He died three days later.

Detective Pelosa:  Do you know the nature of what happened on the night in question?  Do you know why he called your mother?

Claire Tribout:  My father and mother separated on the night of 6 January.  She issued an emergency order of protection served to him on 13 January.  She claimed he was suicidal.  She wanted him to stay away from her and my sister and I.

Detective Pelosa:  Your sister’s name and place of residence?

Claire Tribout:  Ella Tribout.  Both she and I still live at home…  our mother’s home…  my father’s home.  At least it was until they separated.  She switched his keys after an argument, and when he couldn’t get back in the night of 6 January, he went to stay at a friend’s house, a music buddy.  My father was a musician…

Detective Pelosa: Are you and your sister still the legal dependents of John Amos Tribout and your mother… Christine Nina Tribout?

Claire Tribout:  Yes, I turn eighteen in November.  My sister is sixteen…  Our mother didn’t work.  She’s never worked.  Just some temporary part-time jobs for extra shopping money with her girlfriends.  Our father supported us—that is until he lost his job.  Actually he quit due to ethical reasons.  He’d worked in life insurance for over twenty years, but he found out the company he was working for was misappropriating funds.  This happened over a year ago.  My mother wasn’t happy.  She was afraid we would lose our house.  My father tried several jobs, but he was over-qualified and too old.  Most firms wouldn’t hire him.  He tried to go back to music.  He played before he married my mother.  He served in the war…  My father and mother’s separation on January 6th wasn’t their first separation.  She kicked him out before this, after he kept failing to hold a job.  My mother became threatening and their arguments escalated.  Even though he was still paying most of the household expenses with odd jobs and some music gigs he arranged with friends, she told him she would have an affair if he didn’t find a job paying like his job before he quit doing life insurance. She said she would sleep with an old high school sweetheart she renewed communication with after he lost his job.  She accused him of not keeping his job because he didn’t want to support us.  They yelled and called each other names.  She made other accusations, and after this last time, this last separation, she made allegations about his friendships.  His friendships with other musicians…  He paid child support during their previous separations, even though there wasn’t a court order saying he had too, but my mother threatened he would have to pay back child support, that they would impute his income based on his previous earnings.  That if he didn’t they would take his driver’s license, that he would go to jail…

Detective Pelosa:  Do you think this is why?  Why he did it?  Why he called your mother even though she was under an emergency order of protection?  Why while on the phone with her he doused himself with rubbing alcohol and set himself on fire?

Claire Tribout:  My father wasn’t suicidal.  It was my mother.  My mother’s accusations and claims—her threats.  That’s why he did it…  He wanted to see us.  He wanted to see me and my sister, but she threatened to restrict his visitation rights…  What was he supposed to do?  My mother says she was just protecting herself.  She was just doing what she had to do to survive, but it was my mother’s claims that he was suicidal that made him suicidal.  I don’t think he would have done it if she hadn’t pushed him to it.  Even now she says she isn’t to blame.  She calls my father a coward…

Detective Pelosa:  Do have anything else to say—for the record?  Is there anything else you want to say in your statement on your father’s death?

Claire Tribout:  My father was a good man…

Detective Pelosa:  This concludes the statement concerning John Amos Tribout and the incident in question on 22 January, 1975.  Let the record show that Claire Anne Tribout, daughter to the deceased, makes this statement in good faith and without willful cause to perjure herself.  This statement will be on record according to guidelines indicated in the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974…  Thank you for your time, Miss Tribout.

            David Threnody learned of Johnny’s death through old friends in East St. Louis, when his funeral was announced in the paper.  He was living in Texas at the time—Austin, Texas—but returned home to attend the funeral.  And he wrote his song, his lament, for Johnny.  They were friends, old friends.  They were friends during the war, after the war—this the next part, the next section of the story—what happened after the war in New Orleans, before Johnny took a train north, and met his wife…  But before this, before the next story, the next story on David Threnody’s life, and his wife—Bethany—a good-bye, a final fare-the-well.  A requiem, a salute to a soldier, and a father of children.  I’ll end it with these words.  The words spoken by David in the Bible, the words of a warrior and a singer of songs, sorrowful words, mourning a friend…

“How have the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished…” 

 

PART THREE

BETHANY

15

Your life is your life… the gods wait to delight in you…

                                    –from “The Laughing Heart”: Charles Bukowski

 

            She was Cajun.  She wasn’t born in Louisiana.   She wasn’t a true blue Arcadian.  But her roots—her family origins—were Cajun…

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