Saturday, July 21, 2012
I woke up to the news of the massacre in Aurora, Colorado, and it broke my heart. As trivial as it sounds, as a teenager, I used to take mental notes of escape routes for imagined situations just like this. (I was mildly OCD and, of course, I have also been very fortunate.) But what happened in that midnight showing brought up fears I thought I had long gotten over. Movie theatres are intentionally engineered to sever you from the world. There are no windows and doors are discrete. Witnesses described the murderer shooting at people racing for the exits because there was no other way out. I can't even imagine the panic and confusion that struck these people. The gas canister produced a thick cloud that eliminated their vision and all around, their screams punctuated by the rat-a-tat-tat of bullets penetrating burning flesh.
Within that short span of time, the movie theatre - a bastian of escapism and community recreation - became a death trap and a living nightmare.
Paul shouted at me to watch out, but it was too late. I ran over a field mouse. He said he felt it under the wheels and observed it flying off to the side of the road. I went home and cried. To comfort me, he recalled an incident where he nearly hit a rabbit and felt compelled to return to the scene of the crime to clear his conscience. He said he saw a set of footprints on both sides of the street and held out hope that the cute bugger made it home alive.
Paul once stopped his car after seeing a mortally wounded baby raccoon. He stayed with it until it passed on and called Toronto Animal Services. The woman called him back once he got home and said they found the body. He broke down and asked her how she does it. She started crying, "I just take it one day at a time."
(My sister thinks we're one of those bizarrely close couples who could switch genders and still remain entirely unchanged. She might be onto something.)