There’s a position, well there’s not a position in baseball called the closer but there’s an unofficial role in baseball, I mean their position on the field is still the pitcher, but they only come in at the end of the game, typically, to “close” the game, so they are known as the—

Let’s start over.

We are getting closer to coming home.

Here is another picture of Alex, except closer:

Is Alex a closer? Can he seal the deal?

Hey did you ever see that one Natalie Portman flick, what’s it called? 

I’m sorry, my mind is just… all over the place today.

Alex is on the wall oxygen again, which is not like the end of his lung journey by any means, but it is a manageable amount, something we could administer away from the hospital. We can take him home on this amount. More importantly to that goal, though: he’s eating. By mouth. By his own mouth, not injected into him via a tube through his nostril, which they call the “nares” here, except, that term means both nostrils, the singular form being “naris,” which is Latin for, you guessed it, nostril, because sometimes medicine is overly complicated.

I mean, he still has his nares tube, but he can eat by mouth. He finished his allowed 17 milliliter bottle today in five minutes, and when I wrestled the nipple from his mouth, its appearance made me feel badly for it, like what have you been through you poor dear. 

Hey did you hear about that shooting, that deadly shooting that took place a half-hour away from where I sit right now and whose victims were brought to the hospital next door to where my baby has lived his whole life and still remains?

Actually, no you didn’t, because I’m talking about the shooting in Chesapeake on Memorial Day, where nine people were injured and one person died. You didn’t hear about it because it was all black people, a black community. Unless I’m mistaken and they’ve started referring to white people’s large community gatherings as “block parties” too, and not festivals or craft fairs or what have you. Two groups of people got into an altercation and shot at each other and a man named Brandon Smith was killed. No arrests have been made and probably none will be, because anybody who knows anything would have nothing to gain by talking to the police.

If I were Brandon Smith’s family I’d be no less pissed off than the families of all the victims of the Virginia Beach shooting. He’s just as dead, isn’t he. So what if his murderer is not one person, but several. So what it wasn’t tactical, plotted, carried out by a serial killer, a terrorist. See that’s the one thing about the gun debate I can’t rebut, is you can’t stop serial killers and you can’t stop terrorists just by limiting access to guns, can you. I remember growing up and hearing about suicide bombings in the Middle East and thinking holy Jesus lord, who in their right mind would want to live in a country like that? In a culture where this is the norm?

Brandon Smith was 27. I remember turning 28 and being proud I’d made it all the way through the year that had claimed Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin and  Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. Of course, Bradley Nowell had died at 28, as had Shannon Hoon, and Heath Ledger, and Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee’s son and star of the cinematic masterpiece The Crow. 

That movie is literally perfect.

I’m shook. Perhaps you can tell. I said they were stalking me, didn’t I, these mass shooting events. Getting closer. Tracing my history across this country, from Texas to Florida to Pittsburgh to the deep blue sea. Now they’ve arrived at my temporary home. Soon they’ll be at my permanent home. Then they’ll be inside my home. Then they will be my home. Then I will have no home, no thing, nothing, put me in a box, return to sender.

Hey how’s this, if my son ever dies in a shooting, if my son is ever a victim of this entirely preventable, this person-on-person gun violence, whether he’s 27 or 107, I will end us. Humans. People. I will end all of us, everyone, everywhere. I will exterminate humanity. I will go thermonuclear. All your guns could not stop me. In fact all the better, kill me quickly, my body would only hold me back. I am become apocalypse, the blackest of plagues, every cancer and blight, all hellfire and rage and righteous retribution, I’ll holocaust the species and be justified in my slaughter. It’ll be like Noah and his ark except Noah dies too and we don’t need an ark. In this doomsday, the animals will be just fine.

God bless you for this, Carole Dobberteen.

Unless, after all the people are gone, one of them creates a sort of self-annihilating weaponry of their own, at which point I will rise from my slumber and massacre that species as well and salt the earth beneath it, before they go and do something as stupid as codify their own animal version of the second amendment. 

*Also, full disclosure, sometimes they do call white people gatherings block parties. I am become corrected.

One response to “Closer”

  1. Shirley Fortkamp Avatar
    Shirley Fortkamp

    I have now looked up the news article concerning Brandon Smith’s death. It is as heartbreaking a story as the Virginia Beach shooting. My thoughts echo yours as I read of the almost weekly shootings on the streets of Columbus. We live in a violent gun society which saddens me. Every new life, however, is cause for hope that generosity and kindness can prevail. I know you strive to promote these ideals in your own world. And now we have Alex. We all have angels and devils within us but there are a few that can spread the gospel of love and tolerance. Is that a little halo I see encircling that tubed cherubic, cheeked little face? He could just be that budding change agent ……


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