The guy my girlfriend ran off with
in 1983 drove a rusted-out Beetle
and carried a .22 pistol for runs to the bank
to drop off nightly deposits from the General
Cinema, where he was Assistant Manager
and where I worked and saw Rocky Horror
about 20 times more than I wanted to
in egg-and-tp-drenched midnight shows.
He lived in a rat-trap, roach-infested, leaning-over
shack on the edge of The Heights,
a few streets over from the house where,
in 2004, a local TV reporter was murdered
in her bed, her face beaten beyond recognition.
In 1988, on my first night as Assistant Manager
at a restaurant in Dallas, a fight broke out
between a pimp and a private investigator,
who also may have been a pimp. A group
of frat boys decided to jump in and knocked
the whole scrum over onto the floor
just on the other side of the bar from me.
The pimp came up pointing a .22 semiautomatic
directly at the closest object, which happened
to be my forehead. He didn’t shoot—
just waved his gun around until everyone
cowered under their tables—then
calmly walked out the front door and down the street.
My best friend in sixth or seventh grade
moved to Arkansas from New Mexico.
Ron’s skin was lizard-rough.
He raised hamsters and hermit crabs.
I struck him out for the last out of the Little League
Championship. We went out to his father’s farm
and shot cans and bottles with his .22 rifle.
Back in New Mexico, he’d had some health problems
and his mother had shot herself in the head.
A few years ago, a dead body was found
buried on his father’s property. Ron’s son
ended up shooting himself in the head as well.
He was 22.
On December 14, 2012, an armed gunman
entered the Sandy Hook School with two pistols,
a Bushmaster .223, hundreds of rounds of ammunition,
and a shotgun in the car. Rather than turn right,
toward my wife’s classroom where she pulled
two kids into her room from the hallway,
he turned to the left, murdered twenty children
and six adults, including the principal
and the school psychologist, both of whom
went into the hallway to stop the gunman,
and shot two other teachers, who survived.
After that, a lot of other things happened,
but it doesn’t really matter what.