by Vanessa Tottle
The gall of them:
The gall of some little bitch with a bowl cut, son of some proud lineage of death in South Carolina.
The gall of a Chicago cop who treated his trigger finger like that of a Ferguson cop or a Cleveland cop.
The gall of a man in a movie theater with a gun and the anger to use it.
The gall of Roseburg, Oregon. The gall of San Bernardino, California. The gall of Houston, Texas. This is the 355th mass shooting this year.
The gall of a man who once lived in a town called Black Mountain, like a beast from mythology. We best not return him there, in the fog of a cabin lonely in the woods where police will hear a man has hit his wife and shot at dogs and do nothing because that is the purpose of living in the fog of a cabin lonely in the woods.
Dear Colorado Springs,
Here’s my body, dictate it.
“No more baby parts,” he said.
We fight a war of remembrance, the names too many. Across the nation, victims will be remembered for their relation to others, for cruel fates, for last moments spent wanting to be a child again hiding under covers.
I want to hide under the covers. I don’t want to be saddled with memory now.
“No more baby parts,” he said, like a Fiorina or a Cruz. Like a Rubio or a Trump.
We tell the shooters this: I swear to God I will forget you. I swear to God I will forget you. I swear to God I will forget you.
Yet I can’t. We strive to keep terrorists out, but their sponsors hold debates on CNN and say that women bleed too much to ask questions on national TV, that a woman’s body is given too much freedom, that we must be kept, or dangerous if escaped, or shot if dangerous, or forgotten if shot, or meaningless if forgotten, so why spend so much time on women at all?
They are beasts with no leashes, they are footsteps coming closer in the hall outside with the lights off. Hiding under the covers won’t prolong what comes next. I know.
Which is more dangerous, the gun or the camera? The gun points one at a time. The camera points 45 million men with guns in the U.S. alone.
He once lived in a town called Black Mountain, like a beast from mythology, and beasts beget beasts, and to return these beasts to myth is to make them myth, is to beget beasts, is to hide under covers at night with the lights off and footsteps coming closer in the hall.
We are not crafted of hiding under covers. We are not crafted of anticipating our own pain. We are not crafted of covering this over with Star Wars and Christmastime and ‘It will get better: because.’
We are made of voices, all. Support what they hate. Support feminism with a fury. Support freedom of religion for Muslims and Christians and everyone else. Accept and offer asylum for refugees, whether victimized by ISIS across oceans or a man with a fist who lives in your own town. Ban guns and fucking mean it. Get the KKK out of our police departments. Haul everyone you know to vote.
We can ignore them endlessly, we can hide under covers endlessly until the day it’s not our problem anymore, and the young look up and see us hiding under covers and think it must be a good example to follow. Or we can make them obsolete. And we can make them obsolete.
“No more baby parts,” the gunman said. Just body parts.
To him, that is all we are.
We are crafted out of so much more than that.