ANOTHER SCHOOL SHOOTING.
Boyd knew something was up as soon as he entered the living room.
For one thing, grandpa was standing by the window and his son, Derek, was sitting on grandpa's chair. No one ever sits on grandpa's chair. Or Grandpa never lets anyone sit on his chair.
"What's going on?" I drop my bag.
Ken snickered. Kyle scoffed.
"Why isn't anyone saying anything?"
"Where have you been in the past few hours?" Derek asked, still looking straight into the kitchen. His face away from him.
I turned to face Megan, my wife, but she refused to meet my eyes.
"At work," I answer. "Why'd you ask? what's going on?"
They all stared at me for several sadistic moments.
Derek whipped his head in my direction. The recent big scar on his face caused Boyd to drop his keys and jerk back, then squinting his eyes to get a closer look, "What the hell is this?"
His son's fade hardens, and he clenches his fist until his knuckles turn white, "You son of a bitch!" He flies out of the chair and charges at me.
Then a white light exploded in my head. I woke up sweating and panting like I had just run a marathon.
What sort of dream is this?
Making a mental note to talk to Derek tonight, I tried in vain to will myself back to sleep.
A few hours later, I, alongside hundreds of panicking parents was in front of Louis high school.
Another bang of the gun elicited screams of fear and panic. The cops tried to get the parents to move away from close proximity of the school premises but they couldn't. They wouldn't.
How could we? Our kids were in there, screaming their lungs out or probably dead, and a series of gunshots reminded us that the shooter was still on the loose.
I was standing on the sidelines, rubbing my temple in frustration when the sheriff walked up to all parents.
"I need y'all to calm down. We have the shooting situation under control and there were casualties and for parents not yet reunited with their children, we'll pass across all the information available, soon."
"Is the parent of Derek Boyd here?"
"That's my son," I say as I push my way through the parents and rush to him. He leads me away from the other parents that keep saying, "I want to see my daughter, Jennifer. Is my son safe? Tell us what's happening."
The sheriff's countenance told me straight up that something was wrong with Derek.
I braced myself for the worst, "Just tell me officer, is Derek dead?"
"Derek," he sighed, "Derek was the shooter."
I listened, tense, not missing a word. Derek was what?
"No, that's not possible."
"Mr. Boyd -"
"There must be some mistake. I want to talk to him."
"I'm sorry, that's not possible," The sheriff looked in the other direction.
"Let me talk to my son, goddammit!" I slammed my fist on the hood of a car.
"Your son shot himself."
If he had hit me across the face, it wouldn't have hit me hard as this did.
Shock, disbelief, grief, regret, self-blame, and anger rushed through me at once.
As if on cue, Megan came running. She was out of breath by the time she got to us.
"I..." she paused to catch her breath, holding my arm, "I came here as soon as I heard the news. Please tell me Derek is safe," her eyes were begging, her lips quivering.
The sheriff and I were silent for a few seconds before he broke the news "Ma'am, Derek shot himself."
Megan jerked back hard and fast.
"What?" She turned to me, gripping my arm "What's he saying, Boyd? Please tell me there's some sort of a mistake."
"It is your son?" We all turned in the direction of the voice.
"It is your son who's doing all this?" He was beginning to raise his voice.
"It's your goddamned son who killed innocent kids in there?"
The sheriff stepped forward. "Sir, I need you to calm down,"
That's the last thing I hear when, in the blink of an eye, he moves quickly and pulls out a gun from the sheriff's holster and shoots. At first, I felt numb. Then the pain kicked in, the burning and searing sensation.
Amongst all the previous feelings, the burning sensation dominated the rest.