a short story
Copyright 2013 Shane Grey
I cry and even let loose some tears. Because this is some serious shit I didn't see coming. Because between cheer leading, between lunch, between sitting in last period and texting Josh. Between it all, lives have been lost. Everyone is gone but me.
The story ends here.
The detective with her cigarette, she puffs it, I see her fighting back the tragedy. The detective with her badge clipped on the belt, the belt around her slender waist. She stares at me with doe eyes.
The slender detective, she is beauty, she is the incarnation of beauty.
I want to be her when I grow up.
I try to imagine myself as a detective, as someone who can be as cool as her. I try to imagine myself sucking at the end of a Virginia Slim. I try to focus on her home life. I see cats. I see at least three. Maybe two felines and a gold fish. Then again she might have lizards or a bearded dragon.
I don't want to alienate my audience.
Definitely a gym membership. Five day a week cardio regime. Saturdays and Sundays are just arms. Curls. Tricep pull downs. And of course, squats.
No day for rest. When you're a slender detective there is no rest.
I decided to weigh my options. Maybe pursue a degree in psychology.
The slender detective is torn apart, very close to tears.
“Violet, can you start from the beginning?” She asks.
In class the teacher went on another rant about Shakespeare. Mrs Coleson feels she is haunted by his words and writing. She loves his works and clearly considers herself a kindred spirit with him. Coleson is not her married name, it is her maiden name.
Mrs. Stephanie Coleson is unmarried. Much like the many females that pursue poetry and the arts. Her hair is far too oily. She clearly does not shampoo enough. Though she is highly educated and well spoken, I pity her.
“Did you see the shooter?” The slender detective is on her third cigarette.
Those cigarettes are so skinny, they burn slow. Her blonde hair wavy with soft curtain bangs resting off to the side. I notice small blackheads on the tip of her cute nose.
I instinctively touch my nose.
I see the lack of clocks in the principal's office. I wonder how long we have really been sitting here. I wonder for a split second if I was ever a suspect. I wonder if this spinster detective with her three cats, at least, thinks that maybe the cheer leader is in on it.
They have the shooter. He bled to death under the bleachers.
Mrs Coleson has a the tendency to ramble on about her favorite poets and playwright. I can't stand another second. I mash ear buds into my ears. Her boring drone is flooded with heavy guitars and pop like drum beats.
This is the music every teenage girl has to listen to. We have no choice. They don't make good music for us. It's always some guy in his late thirties wailing about lost love.
If you announce to your friends that you like classical music, they stare at you like an invalid. Listening to classical music isn't what makes you popular, it isn't what gets boys to do what you want. Listening to anything not in the top forty will guarantee a one way ticket to a cousin prom date, you will stay home Friday nights with frozen hot dogs.
The gunman enters the class room. The rifle in his hand lights up. I hit the floor. Warm drops splash on me, hit my skin like a rogue shower head. It seems to go on for hours. I wait until the shots stop. Until my ears ring from the loud bang.
When the gunman is gone, everyone is dead. All my classmates and Mrs Coleson. Red liquid blood has replaced the white of the linoleum floor. Human juice.
I see the dead eyes, organs, faces, clothing of my classmates.
One time, Brittany Dover said my three-hundred dollar Steve Madden heels looked cheap. Now her brains were on the floor. Her eyes frozen wide open with a glassy look.
Another time, Angela Harris told Sarah Jane that I had herpes. Angela had blood pouring from her temples, her body twitched violently. Sarah is face down, crimson stains growing larger throughout her hole filled cardigan.
I push my way through the blood and bodies. Blood smears my exposed legs. I'm trying not to gag. I consider becoming a vegan. The smell is like steak or ground beef before it's cooked, but amplified.
I climb out the window, crawl military style to the next classroom. The classroom was abandoned after they cut music courses.
I climb in the window, the room smells like paint and wood. Long cold grass stains on my cheer uniform mix with the blood. Mud, gore, and grass on my legs.
A buzzing. I panic. It's my cellphone. Josh is texting me.
“Did you hear anything once you made it to the empty classroom?” The slender detective asks. I squint a little. I look like I'm trying to remember. I can't shake the fact that this lonely woman who devoted her life to catching the bad guys is with me. No boyfriend. No lover.
If she's one of the ones that suspects me, she obviously hasn't seen the transcripts. That would make her a bad detective. I ace all the tests. My GPA is the highest. I'm going to be valedictorian.
I'm a good girl. I'm what every parent wants their little girl to be.
When I'm as old as the slender detective I'll be married to a senator, an NBA or NFL player.
Success is in my DNA.
Shots ring out in the distance. Not like in the movies, it's a consistent popping sound.
I hear screams, feet on the pavement. Students running from the barrage of bullets. Sounds of begging, pleading, some cry for their mothers.
“Put the guns down, son! You don't have to do this!” It's the janitor, Reggie, I recognize his voice.
“NO!” Reggie shouts. I hear his body hit the pavement.
I'm in a ball, pushed in the farthest corner from the door. I have to survive. The future is mine.
“Your father is Glen Handle.” The slender detective says. She's on her second pack of Virginia Slims. “You're Violet Handle. The only child to Annabelle and Glen Handle, the owners of Handle Firearms. I've read all about you on the internet.”
I nod politely.
“There were six school shootings last year. All in different states around the U.S. They all had one thing in common. Handle guns were used in each one. Weapons manufactured by your daddy's company.”
This slender bitch detective. This spinster cooze. This in shape, chain smoking, cat loving, liar! The fact that Handle guns were used in all the school shootings is strictly coincidental.
“I know that.” I say, “My family's guns were used for lots of horrible things. We make guns, detective, not cotton candy. Our guns also save plenty of lives over seas. American lives. Now, everywhere.”
“Spoken like a true politician, Violet. This is just a casual talk, no need to get defensive. You survived the largest school massacre in the history of the U.S. I want to know the real story.”
This part of the dance is obvious. So many lives lost. So many reasons for there to be change. The slender detective looks like Honey West, not Anne Francis.
For a brief second I wonder if she knows who that is.
“You look like Honey West,” I say, “Not Anne Francis.”
“How do you know Honey West?” She says.
“Did you want to be a hot shot when you grew up? Is that why you became a cop?”
“Honey West wasn't a cop. Let's just focus on the shooting. You seem to be strong about it. That's good. You can't teach that kind of strength.”
At this point she's talking about herself. I could see it. Her hard days in the academy. Eating copious amounts of protein even though it completely constipated her. Having to take laxatives, hitting the gym extra hard, trying to be as good as the strongest guy.
Father tells me I have “bizarre intuition”. I can read people the way you read Wikipedia. Except what I see in your eyes and body language is all true. You can't lie to me.
The slender detective takes a long drag off her cigarette. She realizes I'm going to be a tough cookie to crumble. What she doesn't know is that Handles don't crumble or crack.
I am unbreakable.
It's in my DNA.
On top of it all, even if she suspects me, there isn't a lick of evidence even pointing in my direction. I did nothing wrong. I have nothing to teach this woman.
Someone bangs on the abandoned classroom door. They scream. It's a female. It sounds like Tammy Rosen but I can't be sure. More popping sounds. I hear her body smack on the floor outside the doors.
“HELP! PLEASE SOMEONE! PLEASE HELP!” It sounds like Jeremy Evans. He's only a freshman and his parents are divorced. He screams louder, that's a bad idea. Gunshots ring out, I hear Jeremy choking on his own blood.
“YOU KILLED HIM! FUCKER!” That voice belongs to Jeremy's brother, Jason, he is older and I think a sophomore. He screams as the bullets rip into his body.
I cry in the dark, knowing that hiding is the only way to survive. I can smell the gun smoke, I smell the gore. It takes over the oxygen.
Buzzing in my pocket. It's Josh, he's texting me.
The slender detective stares at me. We're reaching the end of our time, I have not given her what she came here for. I could see the look in her eyes turning to desperation.
“There is no secret to your strength? You just reacted the way you did?” Her voice is squeaking.
“Simple as that.” I say, knowing in reality it is not simple.
“What would you recommend someone do if they feel like they've wasted a better part of thirty some odd years?”
“Get a cat.” I say.
The slender detective comes unhinged before my eyes. Her face lets go. All the sorrow and pain behind her eyes comes rushing out. She falls to her knees.
Three days after the massacre at school the president announced a bill that was passed. There will be an armed teacher in every classroom, in every school. Every janitor, every school nurse, every principal in these United States has permission to carry.
They will be trained with the pistol of their choosing. Carrying that pistol on campus is mandatory if you work there. This kind of order for weapons is a large one.
The U.S. once again turns to Handle Firearms to fill these orders. Handle Firearms is now the leading provider of weapons in the U.S.
The Handle family is now the most powerful in the U.S.
I have fulfilled my destiny. I will carry on the family name. It is because of me that the Handle name is out of the mud. We are now an all-American hero family. The family that single handedly stopped school shootings, forever.
A memorial is built in honor of all the students who lost their lives at my school. No one will forget their sacrifice. Their names will live on forever.
I get up to leave the smoke filled office. The slender detective is now weeping. Her mascara is smeared. She looks up at me.
“Please, Violet! Teach me! Show me how to be strong like you! I don't know how to live anymore.”
“I really should be going.” I say.
“Here, help me be you!” She removes her badge, throws it on the carpeted floor. She unholsters her service piece, it's a standard issue Handle Glock 447. She drops the gun. “Violet, I am a civilian right now. Please, teach me!”
I wonder if she'd feel the same if she knew the truth.
I'm balled in the corner of the girls bathroom closest to the bleachers.
A text bubble from Josh reads, “It's done.”
I reply, “You sure?”
Phone buzzes, Josh, “Yes all of em.”
I reply, “Under bleachers.”
I rush across the blood soaked grass to the gym entrance. Socks stained red. I'm trying not trip over various students who now lay dead. The smell in the air is The Fourth of July and a billion wet pennies.
Inside the gym. Wet shoes screech on the polished wood floor. Student made banners for the upcoming pep rally cover every inch of every wall. Football is now trivial.
The stereotypical slogans: Go Team Go. #Winning. Cougars Crush Falcons.
Every inch of it, now a waste. A waste for the greater good. This gym will become a mecca, the pyramids for gun lovers. It's now a piece of history.
Josh is under the bleachers. He shakes like a leaf in the Fall wind. He's covered in blood. The adrenaline drains from his body.
“Violet! I did it.” Josh says when he sees me. His eyes are filled with tears and genuine terror. He wants to hug me, he wants to kiss me, but knows I don't want that.
“Where's the change of clothes?” He asks. Panic slowly creeps into his features. “We're supposed to be the lone survivors. I can't look like this when the cops show up.” Josh begins to cry, he figures it out fast.
Josh is so full of tears, he doesn't see when I pull out my Handle KLT Serrated Hunting Knife. The one Father makes me carry every where I go. I slam the knife into his throat.
“You used me...” Josh says through gushing red stuff, it spills from his mouth like a cherry syrup machine.
Let the red fall.
I don't remove the knife. He falls backward, forever the most evil teenager in American History.
The slender detective grabs my leg. I don't expect her to breakdown like this. I'm going to have to stop meeting the admirers in person. It was fun in the beginning, but now it's just creepy.
They all say the same thing, “You are a true hero. Your family is simply amazing and we're so lucky and grateful. Teach us the Violet Handle way!”
Every email, every tweet, every Facebook comment. All the same. They all want to meet at the location. At the school where it happened. And they're all losers.
I thought the slender detective would be more credible because she's law enforcement. She's just as screwed up as the other admirers, followers, worshipers.
There's a Church of Violet Handle somewhere in Europe. Millions of websites in honor of Violet Handle. Starbucks sells a Violet frappuccino, it's just a regular one with purple food coloring, a total rip off. February fifteenth is Violet Handle day. On that day people tie orange ribbons to their trees, they put orange ribbon magnets on their cars and SUV's.
I did what I had to do for the family, for our legacy.
These clowns are all the same. Like the detective.
They think I'm going to spit out some grand fucking speech or smack their forehead and scream PRAISE JESUS! Then suddenly they can be brave, they can be cunning, they can survive the hardships of life.
The truth is this kind of mind isn't for everyone.
The thing no one understands is what happened that day was my destiny. There is such a thing as destiny. However, there is no such thing as Hope or Change unless you are willing to make sacrifices to create them.
It's in my DNA.
I leave the Principal's office. The slender detective is face down on the carpet bawling, in her Easy Spirit flats. The detective with her cats, her frozen hot dogs, her cousin prom date.
I truly pity her. I decided to not be her when I grow up.
She's screaming, “SAVE ME VIOLET! SAVE ME!”
I get in the town car, put on sunglasses even though the sun is almost gone. Even though no one can see me. I will forever have to dance for unseen followers, media, spies, the whole world will be watching.
People waiting to see me slip up so they can then tweet, Facebook, email others. TMZ is going to recognize me at every airport, every event, every where. They'll wait for me to vomit, bleed, fart, sneeze, shit myself, get drunk, kill someone. I will never be free.
The driver looks at me through the rear view mirror, he's waiting for me to come on to him, call him a racial slur, or denounce his beliefs, “Where to Miss Handle?” H
“McDonald's. I heard they launched a Violet burger and I'm dying to try it.” I say.
The driver laughs out loud.
We drive off in the purple orange sunset.
Violet orange sunset.
The Night One-Ten Conquered Two-Eighty
This story is dedicated to all the pain and suffering of psychiatric nurses and employees around the world.
Bang by Shane Grey / Mystery & Detective have rating 2.8 out of 5 / Based on33 votes