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Excerpt

Thursday 7/18/19

This is the penultimate section. Feel like I don't need to say anything else.


The voice over the intercom did more than fill classrooms—it filled the air, an audible, invisible, cyclonic fog. Reginald—Reg—the social studies teacher, began to move, down a flight of stairs, dimly remembering a remark once made to him about the things that stairs sometimes convey, as the voice over the intercom breathed again, raddled timbre, atonality of distress, “A shooter is in the building. All students and personnel move swiftly to nearest exits. I repeat…”


As he hit the hallway floor, he saw the form, maybe a boy, not quite a man, perhaps the child Mark Renner, he could not tell. The form did not see him as it swerved hard, swerved with purpose, the purpose of a plan, into the English classroom where the teacher believed his daughter to be during that time of the day. He counted the shots in the space between the beats of his running feet, until the number went too high. That will be all of them, he thought. He pulled up well short of the classroom where the portion of a plan was executed and flung himself into the custodian’s supply closet. The bolt clicked into the latch, muted metallic harmony, a traitorous, apostate sound, the echo of a motif, bullet locking into a chamber. There is nothing to do, there is nothing to do. He was already thinking of his wife and doing grim math. Be smart be smart be smart.


“It’s a winning phrase,” Fitty had said.


“What’s a winning phrase?” Carlene had responded.


“Force fed into the mouth of reality.”


“This again?”


“It happens. I’m going to use it someday.”


They laughed.