Sunday, May 19, 2013

150. Rage

It was to be a quiet walk in the neighborhood. I had gotten three blocks from home and crossed a major street near I-30 when I was joined by a tall, neatly dressed African-American man whom I recognized immediately as one who often strolls our city’s River Market area. He eased in beside me and we walked to the next corner before he stopped and spoke.

“This is where it happened, isn’t it?”

I stopped, thought, and remembered. “Yes, along here somewhere.”

“Did you see it happen?”

“No, but I might have. I walk this way almost daily.”

“And I as well.”

“You didn’t witness it?”

“No.” He looked wistfully at the scene. “It would have been an interesting experience to report to the Elders. Your species has a unique approach to settling disagreements.”


“Who did you think it was?”

“I never knew … I mean … has this been you all along?”

“I sometimes wander the earth without you.” Before I could speak, he continued. “But tell me about this ‘rage of the road’ that is so unique to your kind.”

“This was apparently a classic case. Two motorists got into a feud on the interstate and both pulled off at this exit and stopped. One got out of his vehicle and started toward the other. The man in the second car produced a gun and shot the man three times, killing him.”

“In front of the man’s family?”


“What could cause such an angry response?”

“I have no idea.”

“Perhaps one saw a car on the highway with one of those ‘these colors don’t run” bumper stickers?”

“I don’t know.”

“Perhaps they each had seen one of those TV shows where the hero solves problems by beating up someone.”

“I don’t know.”

“Maybe they watched that so-called news channel whose pundits tell their listeners that the government is coming to get them.”

“I don’t know.”

“Perhaps those guns of which you are so fond have an unsettling psychological effect on a person.”

“Dammit I just don’t know.”

“Have you ever carried a gun?”

“Once. For a time I carried one with me constantly, even when I ate. I stored it next to my bed at night. It was my constant companion.”

“Did it make you crazy?”

“I dunno.”

“What happened to it?”

“The United States Government took it away from me one day.”

“Well, there you go,” he said. “That’s too bad.”

“Oh no. Quite the contrary. It was one of the happiest days of my life.”

“You are weird.”

I thought this was a little bizarre coming from a shape-shifting alien and told him so.

“So we have one man dead in front of his family and another facing first-degree murder charges because of a minor fracas that either could have avoided.”

“That’s about it.”

“This worship of the gun and automobile, where do they teach it?” He pointed toward the spire of a church a couple of blocks away. “There?”

“No. They are supposed to teach just the opposite.”

“Supposed to?”

“Some of them have gotten a little off-track.”

All in all, I think music produces
a better effect on your species
than does driving a vehicle. - C.W.
“Surely your schoolteachers warn that your DNA contains dormant remnants lying ready to activate and produce violent responses during times of stress.”

I pointed at the church. “You and I have talked about this before. They don’t quite approve of teaching science to young kids.”

He stood silent for a moment. Then he lowered his head until his chin rested on his chest. “I hope …,” he said, then stopped to gather his thoughts.

“Hope what?”

“I hope that my next assignment is to a simpler planet.”

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