From god’s favorite band ~ a sisyphean novel: Chapter 11: Bad Monkey (pages 526-528)
Tuesday, 20 April 1999
Sometime in the early afternoon or so, I’m not sure anymore what time, on the day everything changed, we pulled into a truck stop in Northern Mississippi. It was somewhere, I think, around Elvis’ birthplace. It was one of those real-full-blown-Americana kind of places, one of those mega-truck-stops, you know the ones: with acres and acres of tractor-trailer parking, four sandwich shops, two sit-down restaurants, showers, a lounge, video games, a convenience store, and oh yeah, rows and rows of gas pumps, you know, one of those kind’a places. We thought we were going to be there for ten-to-fifteen minutes, but we were wrong.
We also thought the big news of the day was going to be the results of the inquest in Panama City, but we were wrong about that too. After paying for the gas and buying a small packet of cashews for the road, and after taking a quick piss break, … as I exited the men’s room, I noticed a crowd gathering around — and giving their rapt attention to — the big screen TVs in the lounge in the center of the truck stop. I attempted to weave my way through the congested mass of overweight truckers and other sloppily-dressed travelers, but it was slow going. At some point, I glanced up at the TV. I immediately wished I hadn’t.
I stopped and watched in horror, along with everyone else, while, what-seemed-like row-after-row of youngsters, with their hands behind their heads, came running out of a building (probably a school somewhere), while SWAT teams, with helmets on, and guns out, seemed to be trying to corral the kids and guide them to something-like-safety.
‘Oh! No! Not Again! Another Fucking School Shooting’, I shook my head, but I said it only to myself. I didn’t want to see anymore. I turned away from the TVs and forced myself not to look back. I made my way out to the bus. I was hoping no one else in the band had seen it, but of course, it was too late. I stood in the parking lot alone, waiting, wishing it would all go away, until I realized that no matter how long I waited, nobody was coming out. Obviously, everyone had seen it. I knew I’d find the rest of the band back inside gathered around the TVs. I had no choice, but to go gather them up.
I returned just in time to see a teen-age boy, covered in blood, dangling out of a second-story window. He dangled while a S.W.A.T. team tried to reach him and pull him down onto the roof of an ambulance. It appeared he’d been conscious, only moments before, because I thought he’d been holding onto the window sill, but as he let go and fell to the roof of the ambulance, his body went completely-and-totally and un-reflexively limp. It didn’t look to me like he was going to live. It was so heartbreaking and disgusting. I had to turn away. I almost threw up. I didn’t want to see anymore. But everybody else was glued to the TVs. I remember every screen in the room was tuned to ABC News. For some reason, that ABC logo is stamped on my memory of the event. I remember reporters were already interviewing kids. Some obviously still in shock. Others were crying and pulling at their hair and, still in a state of panic, trying to describe the horror they’d seen inside their school. It was evidently a school called Columbine High School in a place called Littleton, Colorado. Another Fucking School Shooting in America.
I had no choice. I had to stand there and watch with all the others. It took a while, but as soon as I could, I coaxed everybody back out to the bus. I tried to argue that we had to get to the gig. Nobody wanted to go. Nobody seemed to think that getting to the gig was all that important anymore. And they had a point. To be honest, it didn’t seem all that important anymore to me, either, but I didn’t know what else to do. So I figured we’d just do what we always do — keep rolling the rock up the hill.
‘Dude? What kind of sick bastard does that?’ Satan started in as soon as we were rolling again.
‘We’ll probably never know’, Jimi shook his head.
‘TV say it be two of ‘em’, Junior volunteered, ‘two of ‘em by-gawd students from the same school’.
‘Yeah Brah, but why?’ Satan wondered, ‘how does a human being do that?’
‘It be’d two of ‘em,” Junior repeated, ‘I hear tell one kid say they be in some gang — “The Trench Coat Mafia”, I think he say — he say they jus’ “come in an’ start shootin”’.
‘But why, Brah? Why?’ Satan still couldn’t get his head around it.
‘I doubt we’ll ever know why’, Jimi shook his head, ‘all sorts of details will come out over the next few days. They won’t mean anything, but they’ll come out. Anything anybody can dig up will be considered news-worthy for a week or two; it’ll all be replayed and rehashed over and over again; but it won’t come to anything. We’ll hear all sorts of minutia about the shooter or shooters. There’ll be report after report about what drove them to do it, but ultimately, we won’t learn anything at all, and within a few weeks, we’ll all go back to living our little lives and waiting to hear about the next mass shooting. And that’s the tragedy of it all. None of us will do a single fucking thing about it, because we ARE the problem’.
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