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Active shooter. Somewhere crowded. Dense. Densely populated. Pop-pop-pop. Screaming starts. And shoving. Shoes slick, sliding in–blood? brains?

And we’re shocked again. Aghast.

This is not the violence we approved. Not here.

Here we’re supposed to be safe.

This is violence creeping in. Encroaching.

Onto the dance floor. The produce aisle. The good side of town.

Fear! Fear! Fear! How can this happen? This evil. This meaningless, senseless slaying. Somebody must make it stop. Someone must be to blame. These are not the bodies we’ve agreed to see on our TV screens.

“It’s all fun-and-games until someone puts out an eye…”

Violence is in the air. We breathe it and seethe it. It’s no surprise in this weather that bullets rain all around.

Check the comments of any post. Fangs and foam. Snarling, stupid, ugly.

Walk the parking lot. Bumper stickers shout. Piss and pith.

Republicans are racists and Democrats are communists. Each swears the other is sub-human: snowflake, libtard, Trumpnik, deplorable.

Immoral. Unpatriotic. Whiny. Stupid. Weak.

You’re a liar. Your facts are fake. How can you be so dumb?

Once contempt enters a relationship, it’s nearly impossible to salvage.

Anger, arrogance, and superiority. Reality TV taught us well.

Our odd couple nation is divided 50/50. Red rover, red rover, we dare you to come over. A line through the living room. Don’t touch my stuff.

And yet when some shooter puts ammunition where his mouth is? We’re baffled.

Our hollow-tipped words ping and clatter like shell casings on the ground. We ratchet up rhetoric. Pile on the insults. Scratch at decency, humanity.

Why does this keep happening?

I’m so afraid.

And you.

How can I trust you?

How can I trust you when you’re so angry?

You’re so angry.

I don’t trust you.

I don’t trust you enough.

I don’t trust you enough to put down the gun.

-Mark J. Royse

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