A fly bumps into the window. It can’t find a way out of the stuffy and hot classroom. Its next try ends with a loud bump that catches Lauren’s attention. She was the last student paying attention to Fred Vage’s history lesson. Fred is disappointed once again – no one is listening. He can’t find a reason not to pay attention to him. None.
Fred stops talking in the middle of his sentence. He looks around. Nobody cares. The students are all preoccupied – either listening to music on earbuds or chatting with other students. Four girls on the left side of the room have been babbling since class started. They don’t care what Fred says. He could have skipped the lesson entirely, and they wouldn’t have noticed. And Lauren, his favorite, the only one who seems to pay attention? Even she seems busy with something else. Lauren turns her head back and looks into Fred’s eyes with a curious expression. Fred is paralyzed like a deer in headlights.
Fred wipes the sweat from his forehead “Sorry! Where was I?… The attack on Pearl Harbor caught America by surprise …“. A group of boys in the back of the room distract Fred with laughter. Fred can’t see a point in calling them out. He doesn’t know the name of anyone in that group anyway. He starts again, “With the attack, the US Congress could no longer ignore the war, and had to…” Again the loud laughter interrupts Fred.
“Can you please keep it down and pay attention!” says Fred without thinking. The teens ignore Fred and continue their conversation. Their pure insolence makes Fred livid. He continues his lesson.
“The United States officially declared war with a counter attack…”
Again their laughter interrupts Fred’s lesson. Fred stares furiously at the group, and says in a loud voice, almost yelling, “I said shut up.”
“WHAT?” an almost fully-grown teenager rises up and with the intention of storming towards Fred, but is hold back by one of his friends who pulls at his arm. After shaking himself free, the angry boy makes a move towards Fred and yells, “I’ll cut your tongue out and let you lick your own…”
Two of his friends jump up and pull his shoulders back. One of them says, “Let’s go!” The boy who had threatened Fred, tries shakes himself free, and walks away. As he and his friends are walking towards the door he says, “I’ll kill you next time you don’t show respect to me.” Fred is paralyzed. He stands without moving and saying a word while sweat drops are running down his temple. The students are all staring at Fred’s fearful face, which remains unchanged for the next two or three minutes.
The bell rings, and Fred remains stunned. The students become antsy, and don’t wait for Fred to dismiss them. They stand up and leave. Fred overhears two students talking: “I heard he stabbed someone just last week. Do you think he would have took out his knife and killed Mr. V, too?” The other student replies, “Nah, I heard he left his knife in the body last week.”
One of the girls says to Fred on her way out, “Don’t let Kirk give you that crap, Mr. Blike!”
All students have left the room and Fred is still standing at the same spot. He starts to shiver. A student just threatened him. He threatened to kill him. That’s enough for a suspension. The boy’s name is Kirk, at least that’s what the girl said. But then again, the girl called Fred “Mr. Blike” She doesn’t even know his name. As far as Fred can remember there is no Mr. Blike at this school. Fred can’t be sure “Kirk” is the punk’s name. Should he really complain about a boy he doesn’t know?.
He leaves the classroom. As he walks down the corridor, several students bump into him, and as usual none of them apologize. Fred thinks about what the boy whose name is probably Kirk yelled at him: I’ll kill you next time you don’t show respect to me. He fells outraged that the kids think Fred has to respect them. Who do they think they are?
Fred reaches the office and immediately turns the door knob but the office door is locked. He hears a voice from inside the office, but nobody replies his knocking on the door. He looks around and can’t find anyone who can tell him why the office is closed. After three or four minutes, Fred decides to go to the teachers’ lounge. He opens the door and finds a crowd of teachers gathered around the television.
“What’s going on?” Fred is curious.
“Haven’t you heard?” asks Luanne in her annoying, high-pitched voice. Luanne is hated by the students, and because she is originally from California, they call her Wicked Witch of the West. Fred secretly nicknamed her WWW. “I wouldn’t ask if I have heard, would I?” says Fred annoyed. “There was a shooting at Westfield Elementary” says Luanne.
Fred has to move around till he finds a spot with a view on the screen. He sees images of the school with a swarm of police squad cars and reporters. The police officers in armor with automatic weapons makes Fred anxious. Several children are shown crying.
“Can’t they leave the children alone to morn? This voyeurism is disgusting,” a teacher yells, but continues to watch the television without moving.
A young reporter is shown now, who starts to talk in the microphone in an agitated voice, “The latest information we have, John, is that this morning, a gunman opened fire at Westfield Elementary School. The gunman is reportedly a heavily-armed male in his mid-twenties. No name or other information on the gunman is known yet. We are being told that the gunman acted alone, and that at least four teachers were shot while trying to protect their students. Reports are coming in that no children were injured. I repeat, no children were injured, but there are four reported staff casualties. Area police report that the gunman has been apprehended.”
The scene switches to a reporter in the newsroom who says, “Thank you, Careen, we are now going to switch to the State Capitol where we have Senator Radgess Smithan who is making a statement.”
Behind a wooden desk sits an old man in a dark grey suit with a stars and stripes tie. He begins solemnly: “Today is again a tragic day for this great nation. We have once more witnessed a tragedy that could have been prevented. Once again innocent lives have been lost. Once again a criminal perpetrator could have been prevented from killing. As a lawmaker, it is my duty and responsibility to pass the needed legislation to stop these monsters. No longer will teachers have to sacrifice their lives to save the children. Our teachers will finally be able to use the necessary force to stop these monsters. I am introducing a new bill, the Keep Our Heroes Alive Act, an act that will allow our teachers to bear arms at school to protect those who are most precious to us – our children. The Second Amendment is also there for teachers, our heroes. Thank you and God bless America.”
“Is he out of his mind? That is going to make things only worse!” yells one teacher that Fred barley knows.
“Shut up.” Jim yells back. “It’s a crazy world out there and we need any advantage we can get.”
“But you can’t fight gun violence with more guns…”
“Nice speech.” Jim sneers. I would love to see how you try to talk your way out at gunpoint. I think Senator Smithan is doing the right thing.”
“Well, I’m not going to take any gun to school, no matter what this wacko says.” She shakes her head and turns away.
Fred is torn – he feels scared by the shooting, angry because of all the misery it brought, and happy that one man is about to bring the necessary changes. He finds some comfort in the thought that he would have a gun and could kill the gunman if he needed to. He could neutralize the treat. He could be a real hero. What the four teachers at Westfield Elementary did, is considered by the average Joe as brave and whatnot. But they did not stop the monster. He would. That’s what makes a real hero. He would finally be respected.
It took Senator Smithan only two months to get the Keep Our Heroes Alive Act through Congress. The first weapon seminars were scheduled and Fred was among the first teachers in his district who attended. He enjoyed the instructions especially because he didn’t have to deal with his students while he was there. Fred passed the instructions and got a certificate to carry a weapon in school.
From the first day the bill was passed, Fred carried his 11 mm pistol on the right side of his belt. Every morning he put his gun in the holster and feels a moment of empowerment. His wife always reacts with some sarcastic comment, but Fred doesn’t let her take away his moment. He stopped listening to what she says a long time ago. He stopped caring.
Summer break is just a month away. The last days have been hot and the humidity makes every effort strenuous. Fred is far behind his syllabus. Today’s lesson is about the end of World War II. His students are once more preoccupied. Only Lauren is paying attention as Fred describes the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“The nuclear bombs lead to the end of the war,” says Fred. “ Without the bombs the war could have continued for six to 12 more months…”
“You did what?” One of the boys in the back yells, and the group starts to laugh.
“Guys, can you pay attention? What I’m about to say is really important. It will appear on the final exam next week.”
None of them seems to care. They continue their conversation. Fred considers whether or not it’s worth it to demand their attention, but then decides to continue his lesson. He takes a look into his book.
“Where was I?” No one answers and Fred continues. “The Japanese had to agree to capitulation and to surrender to America’s power and strength. With the nuclear bomb Americas forces were in another league. It’s like fighting with a rifle a swordsman.”
He raises his head, moves his sight from the book to the boys in the back and moves his hand slowly towards his belt. When his fingers can feel his gun under his shirt he yells at the boys.
“You shut up and listen!”
“What did you say?” The boy whose name is supposedly Kirk stands up.
“I’m sick of you…” Kirk wants to attack Fred but is again held back by two of his friends. Fred wipes the sweat from his face.
“Leave him. I want to see what he’s going to do.”
One of the two releases his grip while the other asks, “Are you sure?”
When Fred shows no reaction, the other student also releases Kirk. Kirk walks up to Fred. Only five feet separates them when Fred reaches to his gun and pulls it out. He aims at Kirk’s head who stops immediately. The students in the class are startled and begin shouting.
“Have I been disrespectful to you again?” Fred asks Kirk, smugly.
Kirk does not answer and remains standing in the same spot. He breathes very fast and his face is suddenly covered by sweat.
“What is it? Did I finally make you speechless?”
Fred enjoys all the attention he has. It looks like he does not understand the seriousness of this situation. He starts to yell, “What are you going to do now?”
A girl’s voice catches Fred by surprise. “Mr. Vage, can you tell us what followed after the war ended and how peace was established, please?”
Fred turns around and sees Lauren, who is scared and anxious. He ignores her and turns back to Kirk. “Maybe you should beg for your life.” Kirk still doesn’t say a word.
“Mr. Vage please…”
“Shut up, Lauren. This is between me and him.”
“Kirk, say you are sorry!” One of Kirk’s friends says.
Kirk does not respond.
Fred was not expecting this reaction. Kirk seems unmoved.
“Do you have any last words?” One of the girls in the class starts to cry.
Kirk’s lips quiver a bit.
Fred knew he will finally get the respect he deserves.
“SAY IT!” Fred can’t wait for Kirk to beg for his life.
Kirk takes a moment than finally he says, “You ain’t do it!”
A loud bang echoes through the school corridors.
Hours later Senator Radgess Smithan will say the following on TV: “We witnessed today another tragedy that could have been prevented. Kirk Randal, an ambitious student, loved by his fellow students and teachers, in the prime of his life, was shoot fatally. He had no chance to defend himself because our oppressing laws have taken away the right nature has given each one of us – the right to defend ourselves. And today we have seen the result of this injustice. Our founding fathers would have objected this insanity. Their vision was an America where our children too have the freedom everyone else have. The Second Amendment applies also to our children. Therefore, I will introduce in the next days a new Bill that allows our children what shouldn’t have been forbidden in the first place. Our children will soon be allowed to bear arms at all public schools in our great state.”To stories overview