by Bruce Hanify I can’t point to a day on the calendar, but I know it happened, because one day I looked around and saw it.
My curtains were closed; the lights were low. I hadn’t had anyone over to the house for probably six months. The sighs of the dead heaved across the dimly-lit nether world I now inhabited. Hell had seized my heart and silenced my tongue. The winds of madness drove upon my shattered gate. I looked around the darkness. When had it happened? Had there been a specific day?
It wasn’t a day, but a thing. There was the elderly couple stabbed to death by two teens who knocked at their door just as they sat down for dinner. The frail little couple — farmers, born in that same America my parents knew — died during dinner. The woman had gotten up from the table to answer the door. It was the last thing she ever did. In death she wore a look of resignation and sorrow. Her brave, devoted husband had put up quite a fight. Of course, it was one of the children — their middle-aged son — who had to find his parents this way. Where do you go with that horror?
Sometime after that I brought home the movie Consenting Adults. Wow! Great erotic opener! Two sexy couples getting to know each other, a powerfully erotic scene that left you wondering:
And then came the next scene. Eddy Otis kills his wife, Kay, by clubbing her to death. I turned off the television and wept. I wept hot tears, but my heart was cold as ice. I pretty much quit watching movies after that. Plato’s Republic stands unresolved: there are corrosive souls who corrode others. Hollywood is a magnet for the spiritually maligned.
The straw that broke me was the family of four killed in Outlook. The elected prosecutor and a senior deputy tried the case, but I, who handled the felony appeals by then and was consulted on procedural matters, was familiar with all the facts, and eventually inherited the appeal. That case proved more than I could bear, though I yet live. I was plunged into dark seas without a map or compass. It would be sometime before I crawled ashore, a weather-beaten, miserable rat.
But I survived, and became someone entirely different from who I had been before.
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