Bad Day

By David Himmel

I wrote this under distress.

The day began to my wife waking me up in my hotel room before sunrise. I thought someone had died. They had.

“Are you OK? Are your friends OK?”

I was in Dallas for work. I was enjoying a quiet, king-size bed sleep without the missus and the dog—though I missed them and love them—to disturb me. And yet, there she was. Waking me up before my alarm, which almost always comes before sunrise. I check the news.

Las Vegas—a town where I used to live—had been under siege. Some fucknut with too many weapons and too-extreme ammunition had opened fire from the Mandalay Bay—where I once worked—on a sea of Las Vegans—of which I once was—because… We don’t know quite why yet.

My mom followed up with a text. Were my people alright. I made some pre-dawn calls to Las Vegas. By all accounts, at that time, everyone I knew was safe. However, I learned that I had friends who were there. At the concert. Trying to enjoy Jason Aldean. They were shot at. Not them specifically, and that’s what makes the whole thing even more terrifying. No one is safe. Everyone is a target. Everyone.

Everyone.

My brother called. My cousin sent an email. Was I OK? Were my people OK? Thank the gods, yes. I’m glad I went to Yom Kippur services last week. Holy fuck. What is going on?

I had a hard time concentrating today. I rarely feel alone but today I felt terribly alone. I was in Dallas with work people I had only met via email. This was an introductory trip. A Good Will tour. Sort of like what JFK did in November ’63. Man, wouldn’t it be awesome if America was great again? Like when only one dude was shot in the head in public?

Yeah.

I felt lonely. I wanted to be in Las Vegas. Helping friends. Helping strangers. Huddling among the masses and the confusion. That’s my town. That’s my home. That’s my workplace. I’ve been in that parking lot, where the concert and shooting were held. I wrecked my car there driving drunk. I’m lucky. And stupid. But lucky. Six hundred-something people aren’t. The dead. The wounded.

I talked to those I needed to talk to immediately. News came in from Facebook that other friends were safe. I can’t believe I’m typing this: Thank fucking God for Facebook. Those check-ins made me happy. Purely happy.

And then my wife posted something about reasonable gun laws and the conservative right, central Illinois brigade of never-left-home went apeshit on her. She was upset. She was upset because people were hurt. People died. Some of those people could have been her friends. Her husband’s friends. Didn’t matter. The conservative gun fans in her Facebook Friends circle had to not just comment but come after her. There wasn't even an "I'm sorry, Katie, however..." And of course. There are plenty of lefties that used this opportunity to pick a fight. People are awful.

The thing about the small town America that holds so dearly its 2nd Amendment—which no one of sound mind wants to take away, only put better regulations on access to powerful weapons, you know, like driving a car or flying a plane or taking your fucking belt off when you board a plane to fucking Dallas for work—is that they don’t see the bigger picture. Because they don’t have to.

The people attacking my wife have never left their small town area. They’ve never lived among the masses of difference and multi-culture. And nothing bad ever happens in small towns like what happened in Las Vegas because even lunatics don’t want to go to small towns. And that’s not a dig. Show me one town in central Illinois that makes its mint off tourism. Oh, yeah, Arthur. Because people love to gawk at the Amish.

The worst part about it was that relatives came after my wife. Our aunt was posting passive aggressive photos of the planes flying into the World Trade Center as if that was a defense against gun control. Jesus… I HAD TO TAKE MY BELT OFF AND TAKE MY LACTAID PILLS OUT OF MY PANTS POCKET BECAUSE OF 9/11 AND YOU’RE AGAINST ADDITIONAL GUN REGULATION!?

It’s maddening.

And it hurts more because it’s family.

People can disagree. Fine. Families do that. But consider your situation. Consider that your niece—your flesh and blood—is upset and hurting and might have friends wounded or worse and maybe just stay out of it. Keep it to yourself.

And this whole argument that people with guns could prevent things like this is absolute, utter nonsense. They say that after every deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. And yet, not one of them has ever stopped it. Las Vegas casinos are some of the most security-intense places on earth. Cameras everywhere. Security guards everywhere. Cops ready to charge at a moment's notice. And yet, this sonofabitch pulled it off. The bad guys will always find a way to do bad, yes, but we must at least try something different than hoping and praying and saying, "Well, if I was there with my gun, I could have stopped it." Because, hey, your hopes and prayers don't do a goddamn thing and neither does your gun. The police, S.W.A.T. teams can't stop these things. And they're far more trained—allegedly—than you are to act on these things and wield their weapons. And even the cops are so often only there after the horror has occurred. 

Your arguments don't hold up. So stop it. Keep your guns but admit and allow that something new needs to be done.

Then Tom Petty died.

Then he didn’t.

What the fuck is going on?

Today was a bad day.

The best I could do was go swimming in the hotel rooftop pool, drink some scotch, float on my back about six blocks from where JFK was gunned down and think, “We’re not going to be OK. We are in deep shit. All of us. Even you, Trent Thompson, you hateful fuck who trolls my wife on Facebook. We’re all doomed. And it’s all our own fault. We share the blame. And if you don’t think you own any of that blame, well, then, hey, you’re more than part of the problem, you’re the root of it."

Today was a bad day.

Let’s see what Tuesday brings.