A Mass Shooting and You
What it feels like when your family is part of a mass shooting
You wake up worn out. You need massive amounts of coffee to motivate yourself to walk with your state rep Bob Morgan in your town’s Fourth of July parade. When you walk outside, the humidity hits you like a wet towel thrown in your face. You realize that the day will be hot. Your sweat glands will be squeezed dry and resemble walnuts before noon. That’s when you decide to skip the parade.
Your neighbors are also planning a block party later and someone (you) needs to clean the house for guests. The neighbors plan to block off the entire street, grill a bunch of meat, and drain cans of booze until the wee hours. A pretty normal Fourth of July. You fantasize about playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” Jimi Hendrix-style in the street with your electric guitar and amp while everyone laughs. America is fractured, like it was during Woodstock. To salute them with a wah pedal and the wail of an old Peavey guitar would be a funny tribute.
Your son doesn’t want to walk in the parade. He throws a fit. Your wife bribes him — if he goes to the parade, she’ll buy him a Lego set from Target. He agrees.
You drive them to the Highland Park Metra station, where everyone is gathering to walk in the parade. There’s a pre-parade din. Car doors slam. The tubas from the high school band warm up. Families swarm on the five blocks of downtown — nobody wants to miss the parade. People push strollers, face-painted babies wave little flags. The town hasn’t thrown a parade in three years because of the pandemic.
When you get home, you realize you are an asshole. It’s the Fourth of July, for God’s sake. It’s always been a great holiday. You get on your bike, stuff your phone in your pocket, and ride up the street. Your plan is to surprise your family and take pictures as they walk down the street.
As you ride, you realize something’s wrong. People are moving away from downtown. They scramble like a crowd in one of those old Godzilla movies when Godzilla plunders the city. You think, did you miss the parade? Is it over already?