I generally assume an adult audience anyway for all of my posts, but I want to place two specific warnings on this. First, explicit violence. By that, I mean a classroom shooting, child-on-child. Second, this is a ten-twelve minute read. It has been edited – I edit everything – but I couldn’t squish it significantly without losing detail.
You have been warned!
“Why’d we have to go and move house? And, to this dump?”
Joey lay deep in thought under his freshly-washed duvet. He could trace his misfortune back to that one event – his parents buying this shithole out in the middle of nowhere. What the fuck did he care if it was close to mom’s family? Okay, there had been few enough people back in St Louis, but out here? Joey had had to tackle the Eighth Grade completely alone.
Not strictly true. There was one girl, Alison. She provided him with some hope that he might one day fit in. On the periphery, she mixed with the crowd, but behind those sparkling deep blue eyes, Joey saw kindness.
Although they took several classes together, they had hardly spoken yet. But this chestnut-haired beauty had occasionally smiled at him, and those eyes lit up Joey’s day. Maybe she felt some attraction, too? A stark contrast to the others. That Latino motherfucker Malla, for example. He was always at the centre. He had taken an instant dislike. The new face on the block, Joey had somehow upset this kid’s applecart. Whenever something happened, something to alienate him further, Malla was there.
“Come on, honey”, called mom. “Out in five, otherwise you miss your bus.”
Joey smacked his head on the pillow, and groaned.
The crunch came one day after Swimming. It was finally Joey’s turn for a shower cubicle. Douching, with shampoo in his eyes he felt the rush of air, the brush on his arm, as somebody leant in from the top, and swiped his towel. By the time he rinsed, the towel was vanished, and the scene was still.
“Hey! You guys! My towel!”, he yelled, suddenly aware of his nakedness. Only sniggers from the other side.
“Think!”. Joey racked his brains. How was he going to get his clothes out of the locker with no towel? He couldn’t just stay in the cubicle all evening, he’d have to move sooner or later. He needed help and opened the cubicle a fraction.
Nobody. All the kids who had been there a few minutes ago had suspiciously disappeared. Nobody.
Joey concluded that his best chance was to make a dash for it, and, as best he could, he dripped himself dry, shaking his straw-like hair vigorously. Then, cupping his fourteen-year-old balls in his hand so as to preserve what little dignity he still had, he braced and suddenly flung open the door. By the time it crashed against the cubicle, Joey was out, haring through the communal area.
The dash seemed to take ages, as Joey tore toward the lockers. Single minded, debris flew out of the way as he raced. By the locker, he even passed Alison, quickly noting her laughing, before he reached his goal. As quickly as he was able, he pulled his bright red Cardinals letterman, his pride and joy, over his midriff. Immediately, he felt the discomfort of its coarse wool against his bare buttocks, but that wasn’t important.
Holding the jacket in place with one hand, he grabbed the rest of his clothes, and as quickly as he could, scurried for the relative safety of a changing cubicle.
Joey panted with relief just to get dressed, not even minding the short-term discomfort as his clothes met his still-damp skin.
As he left the changing room, he was expressionless. People were suspiciously absent, although he did encounter Alison again.
“I’m sorry, Joey”, she began, apologetically, “but it was funny, you must admit. Please, forgive me…”
Joey just walked past.
From then on, it was easy. Stealing dad’s credit card info? A cinch. Finding those web sites? A doddle. It was even simple to trick Uncle Darren.
“I want to buy something for mom’s birthday. It’s a surprise, so can I have it sent here, and I’ll stop by?”
Darren hadn’t even asked questions, just waved him through.
And, making sure he bought something compatible with dad’s, Joey checked out of the super-easy site.
A week later, he held a gleaming new Glock G22.
It was heavier than he had imagined, as he familiarised himself with the unloaded weapon, impressed with its ease. Click, click, click, then unnecessarily changing the large, 22-bullet magazine he had also bought. In fact, one of three. Dad’s money. So what? And, besides, dad would be too occupied to study the bill.
He stole dad’s whole box of shells. More plausible, Joey decided, if he discovered them missing. He’d just assume he’d hidden them someplace else – rather than finding the box, and noticing that shells were missing.
Time for some live practise, he took the gun with one of the now-filled magazines up to the wood. Nobody noticed as the boy squeezed a half-dozen rounds into the trees.
Thursday morning, Joey turned up at school with a black holdall. Nobody was any the wiser, although it contained the Glock plus the three, charged, magazines, and he stashed it in his locker, still unsure whether he would carry this through.
More abuse during French. First Lesson. A hard time from the teacher, laughed at by pupils. It made Joey’s mind up. Enough.
At break, therefore, he returned to the locker, and from the bag pocketed the extra clips. Saving the last for the weapon itself, he snapped it into place and removed the safety.
The first girl had no idea what hit her. Younger, she would surely grow into one of that “perfect” clique, in any case, so he was doing the world a favour. He fired twice, at close range, and she fell at once. The thunder of the shots echoed along the corridor, uncomfortably amplifying the sound and leaving a ringing in Joey’s ear.
A short pause, just to check that this was real. The girl’s body gave confirmation, and the boy resumed. Six children around him dropped like flies, and Joey heard the wails as the rest began to run.
Wow!, he exclaimed, his blood coursing. This is even better than the games. If I’d have realised, I’d have bought me some more clips.
A teacher popped their head out of one of the classrooms, and was met by children running past her to safety. As she realised, she hurried back, intending to barricade the door. Too late! Joey shot a round at the retreating figure. He wasn’t sure what he hit, but the immediate crash which came from the classroom told him that he’d hit something.
Investigating, he found the door ajar, and saw the teacher, knocked back against the wall, obviously wounded, from the smears of blood tracing her short path across the floor. Mrs Cummings. French. She’d always had it in for him. He snorted with disdain, then took aim at the shocked, sobbing teacher. A single shot, straight to the heart, silenced her. As blood seeped onto the young mother’s elegant, silk blouse, Joey hissed, “Conjugate that”, before scoping the room.
She had crouched along the wall when the melee began, but realising no escape, had started toward him.
“Joey. Wh… Why?”, she sobbed.
As if you don’t know, thought the boy, but as he raised his hand to fire, all that came out was “Bitch”. In his haste, his aim was a little off, and he shot the girl through the cheek. But the same effect. She fell instantly, dropping like the proverbial stone, and Joey stared at her. Funny, those eyes were losing their sparkle once he’d extinguished the life from them.
The remaining children, some using just cardboard to shield themselves from his firepower, would later describe it as a miracle. Why Joey then turned and left them, rather than shooting. But first, he was empty – he needed a new clip – and second, he was thirsty.
Deftly reloading as he walked along the now empty corridor, he entered the nearest restroom. There, to his left, was the fountain, but approaching it, he heard a noise from back at the door. Like a mouse, moving, not quite managing to be silent. Joey turned to notice a trash basket, almost full of used, paper towels. Using his free hand, he flung the bin across the room, to discover the treasure it had been hiding.
Poetic justice. Malla! The boy’s eyes welled with tears.
“Please. Please.”, he pleaded, to deaf ears. The boy even clasped his hands together, as if in prayer.
“This make you laugh, motherfucker?”, yelled Joey unsympathetically. “What about this?”, he enquired, as he shot the boy twice in the groin. A deafening, agonising scream, as the boy involuntarily grasped his balls.
Resuming his quest, Joey took a long, slow swig of the refreshing water. Malla was still wailing. Annoyed with the boy, Joey raised his weapon once more.
“Shut the fuck up, you whining bastard”, spoke Joey, calmly, as he fired one more shot, this time exploding the back of the boy’s head, sputtering the previously-immaculate white wall tiles with Malla’s brain.
Returning to the fountain, Joey took some more water. He bent for a quick sip, then stood up straight. Leaving the restroom, he smirked mischievously.
“Right. Who’s next?”