Monday, December 17, 2012

SAD SUNSET by Peter Nolan Smith

Friday evening Mr. Dithers was driving back from Amagansett. I had spent the day laboring on his post-modern beach house in the dunes. It was much easier work than smashing knives. The sun was setting into horizon tipped with magenta, as we drove west on Route 27 into the early evening. The mirage of open road would shift to rush hour congestion after Easthampton. Mr. Dithers and I admired the celestial alignment of Venus over the sliver of a crescent moon. This was the first trip out of the city in months and I was in no hurry to get back to the Fort Greene Observatory, although my good friend/landlord AP had mentioned a need for a babysitter. "You want to get something to eat on the way?" The younger Mr. Dithers asked from behind the wheel of the rented car. "That would be nice." "I know a lovely restaurant on the way." My boss for the day had a strict diet of tasteless food thanks to a finicky stomach, but he was quite an aesthete with the palate of others. "Sounds great." I was getting tired of my own cooking. The telephone rang on the console. The caller was identified as Mr. Dithers' wife. He answered the phone with the push of a button. "Where are you?" Nancy's voice was sad. She worked as a psychiatrist at a major hospital. Most of her patients suffered from addiction. "Just coming to Easthampton." "Did you hear about the shooting in Connecticut?" Nancy had been crying. "A young man went into a primary school and killed 6 adults and 20 children under the age of 10." Mr. Dithers said nothing, but I swore, "Damn." Nancy recounted the news from the TV at their apartment on East 57th Street. Another lone gunman had torn a hole in the fabric of life. "What makes someone do this?" Mr. Dithers wanted to know. He was a calm person. I doubted if he had ever had a fight in his life. "He was either a psychopath or psychotic?" Nancy added that most of the killers with white males on prescription drugs to deal with anger issues. "It's more than that." I had been bullied in grammar school. I never wanted to revenge myself on innocent people, only the two thugs who had beaten me up every day. "This boy must have been in pain. The school reminded him of this pain and he wanted other people to feel the same pain, but also he went to the school knowing that he was going to commit suicide and like a Viking chief he wanted people to accompany him into the afterlife." "I don't think so." Nancy wasn't buying my theory. "Honey, I'll be home as soon as I can." Mr. Dithers hung up the phone. "Sorry, but dinner's cancelled." "I understand." It was time to be with your loved ones. The last vestiges of the day were fading from the western horizon. The sun was rising halfway around the world in Thailand. My children would be going to school soon. I sat back in my passenger seat, knowing that they were safe and sound and far from America. I only wished that I could say the same for myself and those poor children lost to a madman's rage.

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