Coherent or incoherent, Surreal or mundane?
A man and his wife were setting up for a long day volunteering at the college. They had a baby, a troubled toddler, and a pram with much accoutrement that goes with parenting.
A tether appeared to have been fastened on the base of a huge tree. The process of mounting the apparatus must not have been complete, for now the father stood back a short ways and shot a hefty, black pistol into the tree trunk near the ground. It made a large, perfectly round hole. Rather than xylem and phloem being just beneath, it was hollow. He'd knocked the outer bark off, merely chipping the surface off of a cavity then.
I went on, but learnt right away that a tragedy had ensued moments after this, resulting in the accidental death.
I was horrified and hastened to class. A psych class it was and had started by the time I entered. I took in the scene immediately. Our prof was absent again, and I heard her voice as she called out names and grades of our recent exam. She got to the last alphabetically, and now repeated my name, questioningly. She’d obviously skipped my name when it went by before. “I’m here now,” I said. “I need to let you know that there’s been a death.”
She switched to where I could hear but others could not and said she knew all about this. She signed off for the day. We would hold class without her.
I confided in a woman who sat beside me, Tammi, about the disaster. She was all ears, and we both supposed the charity event would have to be cancelled since this angelic couple were the primary tablers, so who else could step in to table the all-day event? I told her the child did not know what had happened, as it was apparent there was no baby on the end of the tether and he must’ve assumed the worst of his da.
A large, clownish man said, “Well, they should’ve let him walk over. They live just across the street, don’t they?” Nobody said a word for a long, awkward mo.
Then the one by me barked at him, “It’s Eastland Park!”
A challenged young man had begun an emotional rave that was almost incoherent. “Why did they make us say it … nobody understands … you see now, it doesn’t help …” He was crying hysterically and there were so many body fluids escaping on his face, tears and spit, to name a couple. He could not get a grip, as others of us tried soothing him. “But you don’t know. That’s true … that no one understands. ...” he ranted.
“Go ahead, say it. Say your piece." Tammi encouraged. "You know you must.”
“Ahh, it doesn’t do any good! HE’D said it, and this happened anyway! Oh, all right … I have a challenge, I try to overcome, I …” He rambled off the litany required of him as he’d done every day of class, only he rolled it out faster than we’d ever observed it.
Walking back over later to see if I might be needed to volunteer, I saw across the boulevard the face of the self-effacing man who’d led a rather normal existence just that morning. His garage door was shutting slowly, his was face the picture of remorse, AND he was crying. My head was swimming. Had he killed one of the children by mistake? Hadn’t he himself been the one shot? Maybe his ghost was remorseful at his having been negligent with the firearm leading to his own unintentional demise. That was it, I decided. Either way, there were no good options to neatly pack this up.