I go to school at an unassuming public university, stay in an unassuming shit dorm at a public university, and live what can be most accurately characterized as a typical unassuming public university lifestyle. But every once in a while the gods throw a series of events at you and your peers and you don’t any choice but to start a witch hunt.
It was early in the year. We were really just starting to get to know one another. I was getting ready for bed, washing my face in the communal co-ed bathroom, as usual and all of sudden I felt as if the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit had all at once thrown pepper in my eyes. It was the worst most horrible burning I’ve ever felt, so I stripped my clothes off and ran to the showers to rinse my burning face as I cursed and screamed and swore revenge. I ran out of the showers barely concealing my dripping body with my clothes yelling that someone was going to pay as I forced my unsympathetic neighbor to help me put eye drops in and told them how horrible my face was burning. I was essentially told I was overreacting and sent away. I returned to my room to finish my problem sets as a newly blinded man. About 45 minutes later, I hear screams and not long after, I hear sirens. My other neighbor from a few doors down was suffering my same affliction and this time the apparent “overreaction” consisted of him calling the paramedics.
They brought him down and checked him out and by then it was apparently starting to subside, so the paramedics pretty much rolled their eyes and told us that more than likely someone was testing their pepper spray out in the sink and didn’t foresee the repercussions. I trusted the solution and moved on with my life taking away merely a new caution with regards to our sinks.
Two days later, the incidents start again. Now people are getting burning hands from just touching things in the bathroom. One particularly fiery tempered boy can’t stand it anymore and calls the police. Not the RA, or campus security but the police. The officer comes up, brings in some people to do some tests, and apparently they find out that the substance definitely isn’t pepper spray and is apparently oil based. Which he says means “this is more than likely malicious.” At which point I look my RA dead in the eye and say “Benjamin, that is it I am starting a which hunt.” To which he responds with a shrug and a muttered “I suppose I won’t stop it.” So I walk down the hall yelling and hollering and gather some people. I decide to start this witch hunt in the fastest way possible and right from the start, blame an individual. I quiet the small mob and exclaim that it was a very large and fiery-tempered man named William. To which he gasps and immediately names 2 or 3 other people of whom to him in this moment, apparently have character and credibility of lower value than he does to himself. I subsequently step back and watch this group of particularly suspicious-minded individuals tear each other apart as to not become the floor’s bitch this early on in the year.
In the end, a Witch Hunt will always fail in finding any remote truth or answers. As if often the case with a complete denial of reason. But, at least in this case, though the culprit will likely stay secret forever, it worked exceptionally well at ridding our communal bathroom of whatever made my eyes burn that fucking bad.