Gray dawn and breakfast and checking of phone. And my state reeling in pain, reaching through the small screen in picture and video and text.
“At least 50 dead in Las Vegas.” By the time I put down the phone, the number climbs to 58.
The videos, lit sparkling by neon and showlights, are not the cinema drama of shootings. One shot does not ring out, a prelude to violence. It’s a simple string of death trailing into the men and women 30-odd stories below the Mandalay Bay. We like to believe there exists a narrative structure to these things, aping the poor representations we flock to as entertainment, but there is no such thread: People are listening to music, a man shoots and shoots and shoots and shoots. Eventually he kills himself.
I grow weary of death. And so do we all, living on unrealized prayers and inertia. We didn’t change after Columbine. Murdered high school children. We didn’t change after Sandy Hook. Murdered seven year old kids. We didn’t change after Orlando. San Bernardino. Virginia Tech. Uncomfortable ghosts haunt our dreams, wearing us down. We haze their faces across memory, bright again every time we add to their ranks.
Foreign friends ask in shock how we allow this. Our addiction to violence. Our desperate clutch on an enshrined Constitution, justifying misplaced faith. An other-ization of victims, perpetrators, and those who seek change. An enormous, efficient, cruelly cynical lobby and the sycophants it generates. Arrogance. Hubris. Fear.
We will ask, “What will it take?” We will point to the asinine arguments the NRA inevitably will recycle, that will be parroted by bought clowns (or sadder still, for free across the living rooms and dinner tables of America). We will be told about rights and privileges, and of course, the undercurrent of potential violence. Someone will posture and preen and congratulate himself on how he would have done differently.
This noise will cover the tot-tot-tot-tot-tot replayed in videos. It will help smother the wrenched grieving of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends, lovers. It will drown the bells and gongs of the Strip. It will well and crest with depressing familiarity over new faces, new ghosts. A darkly American elegy, played mournfully out in the Nevada night.