Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Strange Days Have Found Us

Busy busy. For the most part, it's all boring day to day stuff. We go to work to make money to buy books and movies that we don't have time to watch lately because we're too busy exercising or running around. Seriously, I have a copy of "There Will Be Blood" that I bought the day it came out that I still haven't seen.

I haven't finished a book in weeks, and the pile of stuff I have to be read is starting to overflow. Recently I picked up a handful of Jack Ketchum's paperbacks (haven't read anything yet, but appears to be pretty intense horror), some healthy grilling cookbooks, and "The Raw Shark Texts" by Steven Hall. Imaginary monsters feeding on your memories? Yes, please.

I think by far the most interesting thing in our little lives came in the form of a threat posted by a sophomore high school student against the school my wife works at. Tuesday was her birthday, and I had flowers and balloons delivered to her, but found it odd by mid-afternoon when she hadn't called to say that she had received them. I called under the guise of wanting to talk about something else and I get:

"Hey. Got the flowers. They're nice. Gotta run. Love you, bye." She didn't take a breath nor did she give me a chance to say anything. Click. She hung up.

Thirty minutes later I call home to check messages and hear the Superintendent's automated message saying that students had been sent home, all evening activities had been cancelled and the following day's classes were cancelled as well due to a threat made against the school. Immediately you think it's some fucking knucklehead calling in a bomb threat or otherwise being douche, but part of you wonders. I immediately thought of the grainy black and white surveillance video from Columbine I saw, and wished she'd call to tell me what's going on.

So, it turns out (per another automated call received from the school tonight) that the kid had made the "threat" in an online forum, saying he needed grenades, but had guns already. He posted that he thought he could kill 60 people before he was taken out and that this was set to go down Thursday. The FBI tracked his IP address back to Columbus, and had a heart to heart with the boy to see exactly what the deal was.

He was just a kid being stupid. There were no guns. There was no real threat.

When things like this happen though, my imagination always gets carried away. I spend some time at the school to proctor ACT and SAT tests for extra cash, and to be honest, the place can be a bit creepy. I think maybe it's high schools in general that can be creepy when you aren't used to them. I pictured kids running down the institutional-green hallways, and the front office where my wife works under siege. I know Jen did too.

We tried not to get too carried away with the whole ordeal, but when she called me from the office to catch me up on what was going on, I could hear that she was upset. To have a place you consider yours, a safe place, be threatened and suddenly not be a place of comfort is unsettling. Even knowing the kid was just a bored punk online won't set things back to the way they were right away. This will probably be with her for a while, and I hate that for her. Hopefully it won't be too long before it's at least at the back of her mind though.

Enough of that.

This weekend I get to partake in the first adult beverage I've had in almost four months. I will be with some professional drinkers, so I will have to take my time and really pace myself, but I can't wait. More than anything it'll just be good to get away from here for a few days and hang with some good folks. Somewhere along the way I'm going to finish the fifth (sixth?) draft of a short story that I did about a man and his dog. Aw. Sounds wholesome, huh? It's not.

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