“Have they said why yet?” Vancouver resident Jim Catskill asked his wife, Susan, as he awoke this morning to her reading out loud, in a stunned voice, a news headline about last night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Mrs. Catskill pointed out it was a little early to expect that information, as the police remain uncertain just how many were killed and injured, much less the particular spark that caused the horrific incident.
“Sure,” Jim said, as he reached for his own phone. “Did they say his name?”
Susan scanned back through the live news feed. “Stephen Paddock.”
“Huh. That doesn’t sound very Islamic.”
Across North America today, and indeed the rest of the world, millions of people spent significant portions of their commutes, lunch breaks, and afternoon teas, struggling to make immediate sense of the senseless violence that rained down on a country music festival in Nevada last night, killing dozens, and injuring hundreds.
“It’s what people do,” says noted psychologist Gustav Carllson. “They scramble for facts, for handles and mental finger holds with which they can grasp at the unwieldy mass of the incomprehensible, so that they can explain to everyone around them exactly what happened. When really, of course, they are just desperately trying to explain it to themselves.”
Back in their apartment Jim is on the case.
“Look at this,” he calls out to his wife, who is now in the shower trying to get ready for work. “They’ve released a photo of his girlfriend. She looks Asian. You know what that means don’t you?”
“Well. It means he has a girlfriend. Who looks Asian.”
“Jim,” Susan says, sticking her face out from behind the shower curtain. “Have you started working for the FBI recently without mentioning it to me?”
Jim looks up from his phone. “No.”
“Then just give it a fucking rest would you?”