Michael McLendon awakens on Wednesday to execute the people who did wrong by him. How different one day is from another - and the waste that the difference represents.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average regained $134.5 billion on Tuesday. People on trading floors smiled tightly into the glow of their data monitors. The market felt kind and everything had a sheen to it - as if a more colorful film had been placed over the universe.
This is reported the next day, in the financial section. I think about Tuesday and what it meant. A $134.5 billion day. It seemed ordinary. I took a subway and we were delayed between stations and the operator explained that it had to do with signal troubles. I went to meetings and left messages in voicemail systems and drank coffee from a Styrofoam cup. I felt the give in my vertebrae and did not make it to the gym and tickled my kids instead. I wrote a piece and went to bed and slept without dreams.
But the next day is ugly; this Wednesday sun comes and goes differently, burning across the sky and leaving the markings of its stride long behind the tear of its passing. Michael McLendon woke up on Wednesday, thinking of the people who had done him wrong.
It is unlikely that he composed the list on Tuesday - as this was a list that was written in his marrow. He carried the list in his platelets and in the electric darkness where his nerves ended and in the stuff of his intestines. It was a list built in the makeup of his atoms - and the folks on that list that coexisted with Michael McLendon and that rubbed him in the manner that they collectively did would take his bullets and would die.
Michael McLendon had signal troubles - but Alabama did not have an operator who could detail these troubles. And so the train went on.
He fired more than 200 rounds, moving through his methodical daydream with the kind of white-hot hatred that is often considered cold. He shot dogs and children and strangers and family and then he shot himself.
And it amounted to a staggering nothingness, the passing of this profitless day in such contrast to the abstract day before it. And other stories with other people made headlines in between. And the moon reflected its mockery of the sun before it. And then the moon passed on as well.
Today there is a picture of two men hugging. It is in the first section, where the news is positioned. One of the men has lost his wife and his daughter to Michael McLendon's Wednesday - and he is receiving the hug. And his eyes are lost. And I cannot forget his eyes.
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