Bus Stops and Abandoned Backpacks

“The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.” -P. G. Wodehouse

**********

This is one of those stories.  You know the kind.  The type where you sit around a pub table at night, talking about things that you still find a little hard to believe.  Yet, you know that it is probably in your best interest to keep these sorts of stories from your Mom.  Because, well, keeping your parental figures from having heart attacks is in everyone’s best interest.  Darn it though, anecdotes want to be told.

I find it rather relaxing to take leisurely strolls.  On one particular route, I rarely encounter another person on the sidewalk.  There is only one stoplight between myself and home.  The route has trees, long stretches of pavement, and is quite low in stress.

Except for that one time.

bus-stop-1452777239g7iThere is a bus stop just as the road curves.  Rarely does a bus stop there in the evenings.  Crowds of people do not cram into that little depot.  It sits quietly, unassuming, content to be whether or not it is serving any real purpose.

On that particular day, its purpose was to play host to a backpack.  It was a rather large, black backpack.  There was no host, no people meandering about that would quickly return for the bag.  It was an abandoned item; a mysterious package.

I have found items of value before and I try to return them.  Thus I unzipped the main pouch, and found large amounts of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  Plenty of the stuff filled into that backpack.  I really think half of the weight was made of these cans sloshing about.

I started to walk, thinking it would be easier to find some ID at home.  But the bag was heavy and I was curious.  So I opened a second pouch, moved some more Hard Lemonade, and kept trying to arm myself with more information.

Which is when I found the gun.

There are plenty of people who would be alarmed at the steps I had already taken.  “Don’t you listen to the intercom system at any airport?  Like, ever?  Report unattended items!  It could be a bomb!  See something, say something!  Call the cops!  You could have died.”

cardboard-box-155480_960_720Calm down.  People call in bomb threats to create a sense of panic.  They want a sense of fear to permeate the world.  If they can get on the news for forcing a building to be evacuated, then they win.  The world gets shaken up and they get their little excitement.  If they are really determined, then they will make an actual bomb and see how much carnage they can create.

This bag was in the middle of nowhere.  No pedestrians, no houses, located at the base of a rather bare hill.  If it had been a bomb, they would have claimed exactly one victim.  Apologies, but I am not spiffy enough to warrant my own headline, I do not care how slow of a news day it is.  There is a twisted logic to causing terror, and in my estimation, there was no payoff for anyone to leave the bag there.  So that was my thought process when I unzipped the thing.  Take precautions, sure.  But shirk panic.

I once had a woman come into my store.  She was very concerned and nervous.  She asked if I would call security or the police.  When I pressed her, she pointed to a black plastic box sitting outside our door.  It was a mouse trap.  We have them all over the building.

All that said, I do hate guns.  I had no desire to see if it was loaded.  I know enough not to handle a firearm without knowing if it is loaded and I certainly did not want my fingerprints on any more items than they had already touched.

The paranoid folks that worry about bombs will be pleased to know that my concerned side kicked in as I put the cans back in the bag.  What if the owner comes back now?  What if they see me walking down the sidewalk with their gun?  Is this a violent individual who will chase after me and might be carrying a second gun?  What if a child comes across this bag and finds the gun?  Do I need to worry about drugs or other weapons in the bag?  Do I really want to walk this a few miles home?

I wanted that bag gone.  And the closest business was only a few blocks away.

Picture if you will.  You are sitting in a residential business.  You have less than an hour left in your shift.  You have cleared off the clutter of your desk for the day.  Maybe you need to make a phone call or two, telling customers their requests have been fulfilled.  You start pining for the weekend that just cruelly ended; far too soon for your liking.

business-1067978_960_720Then a young man walks through the door.  He is carrying a large bag.  You have never seen this man before.  He comes up to you and says, “I need to use your phone to call the police.  Is that okay?”  When you point to the lobby phone and mildly ask what is happening, he tells you things you would rather not hear.  Things like, “There’s something in, I, the police need to come get this.”  You look to your supervisor, raise your eyebrows a bit, and reply, “If it is a bomb, I’m not sure I want it in here.”

Poor gal.  All the people in the city that carry phones with them and she gets visited by the one guy who does not.  I made the call brief though.  I went outside the building, as far from their business as I could, and waited for the police to arrive.

Not too much later, along came a police SUV.  A calm and pleasant officer approached me, put on her blue gloves, and took the bag.  I gave her a brief recap, pointed to the areas that my hands had touched, and made sure she knew what section the gun was in.  She took it and made her way back to the station to x-ray it.

I considered myself the good little citizen.  I had followed my Sesame Street training and called the authorities.  For all the news stories and controversies about police there are out there, I am glad that there is someone to call when weapons are found.  I decided that all was well, even if I was a little worried about the kinds of people that were out there leaving backpacks with weapons.  Were they part of some Hunger Games-esque, underground reality show where they had to kill or be killed?  Were drug runners moving in and expanding their territory?  Had a government drop off been intercepted?  No matter what my imagination contrived, the gun was off the streets.  No shootings today.

I received a phone call from the officer an hour later.  It had not been a gun.  It had been a paintball gun.  (Which, in my definition, is still a gun.  See the second word there?  Gun.  But I let the officer define terms since it is her field.)   Some ID was inside, so they were calling to have the belongings picked up.

I can sense the admiration from here.  Clearly I am a hero for the masses.  Saving the world from… getting little dots of color splattered on clothing.  Stay back Captain Kirk, I got this!  No red shirts today!  Recreational sports equipment, fear my might!  Rawr!

I shook my head and went back to my life.  The drama had resolved itself, all except for one tiny detail.  What the sam hill was with all that lemonade?

Intermission- Some People Just Want to Watch the World Burn

(I apologize for the departure in tone today.  Normally I would happily write a cute story filled with sci-fi possibilities or a will they/ won’t they couple.  But today I’m not feeling happy or creative, so you get this.  Hopefully tomorrow will bring happier thoughts.)

For those not well-versed in their comic book movies, the subject line is a little too appropriate for today.  The quote comes from The Dark Knight, and it serves as a description for a villain who kills and causes terror just for the sheer fun of it.  Tragically, the world was served a reminder this morning that such people exist outside of comic books.

I’m sure the final count and details are still being worked out, but I know enough to be horrified at the tragedy.  Twelve people were killed and thirty-eight people were injured when a man came into a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, dispersed smoke, and opened fire.  Police apparently have a suspect in custody.

I don’t know very many people in Colorado.  I would never claim that I will be as impacted as the friends and loved ones of that theater audience.  On a much smaller scale though, I will claim that the room was filled with my people.

Comic book nerds are an interesting breed.  We have a reputation for being anti-social.  I’m here to tell you though; one of the quickest ways to get in our good graces is to read comics, to be one of us.

I work in a comic book shop.  There have been many occasions where I have heard guys and gals say, “Yeah, I just moved to the area.  I needed to find a good shop.”  We leap to make connections with fellow nerds.  We want to share stories and opinions about the latest issue back and forth.  I’ve sold comics to young and old, rich and poor, gay and straight.  Some are of a minority race, and some are classified as disabled.  We don’t care what the world thinks of you, we just like that you enjoy comics.  It’s hard to care about race or religion when the fate of the world is in jeopardy on the four-color page.

That is why I mourn the crowd in Colorado.  I don’t know you folks, but I like who you are.  When we see each other on the street with our mutual comic book t-shirts, we exchange a knowing wink and nod.

In addition to working in a comic shop, I also work in a movie theater.  It’s a giant, six-story screen that is, not surprisingly, playing The Dark Knight Rises.  Last night, when the world was getting ready for bed, I was strolling around the lobby in a Batman costume trying to get people ready for what I think is a pretty great film.  There was a Joker, several Batmans, and a Catwoman in attendance.  We gave away posters and comic books.  They just wanted to watch an epic movie and have a good time.  Hopefully they did.

What do I do today?  The rain was falling as I left the apartment, but I didn’t reach for my standard Superman cap to keep me dry.  I need a time to feel dreary.  I’ll call it a win if no one on the bus recognized that I was about two seconds away from breaking down.  I have to go to work and decide if I really want to dress up as The Dark Knight and possibly put people on edge.  Yesterday they would have enjoyed the silly guy in a black costume.  Today they might pause and ask themselves what kind of person is really under that mask.

I’m sure action will be called for.  The police and the legal system will do their thing.  Undoubtedly conversations will occur about whether or not we should screen bags at movie theaters or if movies about crowds taking over a city encourage violence.  And I would guarantee that there will be one more argument for gun control.  I’m not saying any of those talks are good or bad.  I’m saying we all have our own ways of dealing with tragedies like the one that happened this morning.  In one way or the other, the guilty will get what’s coming to them.  Maybe it will be in the court of law, maybe it won’t.

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” -Romans 12:19

Myself, I’m going to be in mourning.  I called up the gal who’s been on my mind this week and made sure to tell her that my life is better with her in it.  I’m going to try to find a comic book that I feel like reading.  A Batman comic wouldn’t feel right today.  Maybe it will tomorrow.  I’m supposed to dress up as Batman tonight and I have no idea whether it’s the right thing to do.

To me, Batman is one of the most hopeful characters ever created.  Every night he goes out trying to keep anyone else from suffering like he did.  The odds are impossible, the circumstances are out of his control, but he still keeps fighting.

No, I’m not going to stop reading comics.  No, I’m not going to give up movies.  I won’t be scared or bullied into worrying about my safety.  I may take a little break from celebrating and Bat-festivities, but I won’t give in to the misguided.  If Batman can have hope in a city like Gotham, then I can too.  The world can break my heart with its cruelty, but it’s not going to keep me from enjoying the good things in life.  Hopefully the darkness will be a little less so tomorrow.

Problems With Infinity

Confessions of a Delusional Maniac

Avoiding Neverland

A nomadic teacher's thoughts on preparing teens for life

Late~Night Ruminations

...for all the ramblings of my cluttered mind....

Short...but not always so sweet 💋

Happy endings are not guaranteed

Running Away To Booktopia

Because let's face it, reality sucks most of the time.

guclucy5incz5hipz

Exploring my own creativity (and other people's) in the name of Education, Art and Spirituality. 'SquarEmzSpongeHat'. =~)

The Land of 10,000 Things

Charles Soule - writer.

40 is the new 13

These are my 40s... what happened?

You're Gonna Need a Bigger Blog

This blog, swallow you whole

bottledworder

easy reading is damn hard writing

s1ngal

S1NGLE living H1GH thinking

Listful Thinking

Listless: Lacking zest or vivacity

Kim Kircher

Strength from the Top of the Mountain

The Byronic Man

We can rebuild him. We have the technology... Drier. Hilariouser. More satirical than before.

The One Year Challenge

A one-year chronical of no flirting, no more dating and absolutely no sex.

Beth Amsbary

Grantwriter, Storyteller