Dark, Dark Times

Sometimes I narrate my own death in my head. I’m not suicidal in any way. I think it may just be an outlet for an idle mind.

A few days ago, my family and I sat alone in a fast food restaurant quietly eating our meal. My husband fiddled with his cellphone. My one-year old babbled at the ceiling tiles. I looked out the window and took note of someone parking by the front entrance. They had, apparently, just gone through the drive-thru and were rifling through their order. The passenger angrily exited the car and made their way inside the restaurant. In the split second it took her to pull open the glass door, I thought:

“This is it.”

Everyday more and more violent acts are committed for senseless reasons. Schools, malls, movie theaters, anywhere, one can fall prey to a random shoot-out. It doesn’t have to be a bad area. The people involved don’t necessarily have to different ideals or really anything in common other than location. Why wouldn’t this be one of those times?

Back in the restaurant time slowed. The angry customer walked passed us in the dining room, her stride was wide and confident as she coolly raised her right arm. Before anything could mentally register:

“Bang!”

The clerk at the register went limp. Her body sank.

The employee packing orders began to turn in response to the noise behind him. His co-worker, who was facing the customer, raised his hands defensively. I couldn’t see what he was looking at, but I did see the terror that permeated his whole demeanor.

“Bang, Bang!”

The customer, now at the store front, leaned over the counter toward an area I could only assume was the drive-thru window and fryers.

“Bang, Bang!”

With the staff totally disposed of, the assailant turned to leave. Our eyes locked. There was nothing there. I expected anger, rage, perhaps remorse. But it was vacant, almost as though she was just as much a spectator as we were.

The sounds of the gunshots echoed in my mind as I stared at her.

“Bang.

Bang, bang.

Bang, bang.”

I peered down at the gun in her hand: a revolver. Six shots. Five fired. Three of us.

My body instinctively turned itself to block my child in the booth beside me, but I still faced her. My gaze again met with hers. My teeth were gritted. There was resolve on my face. I braced for the answer to the inevitable question:

Which of us would she choose?

In the split second it took for that customer to open the glass door to that restaurant, my mind went to a dark, dark place. None of this happened in reality. The customer was actually greeted at the counter with the corrected order and she left quite satisfied.

However, when she turned to leave, our eyes did meet. Her eyes were vacant, remorseless. Who is to say it couldn’t have turned out that way?

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