I’ve tried, but cannot find the words to describe this kind of pain.
(One week later…) All week I’ve been glancing at this picture, which lies on the counter in a small room between our kitchen and dining room, called the butler’s pantry. The picture has been set next to a bag of chips and a bowl of lemons. Just below is the potato drawer, a deep pullout drawer in which potatoes sometimes roll out of their bag and hide at the bottom until I can smell their deterioration, and have to go burrowing to find the stinking, soggy mess. Few things smell as foul as a rotten potato. Once the feculent odor reaches you, your memory retains it.
I glance at the photograph several times a day as I pass through the butler’s pantry. Each time I feel sick. I feel as though I’m smelling something putrid. Aside from the “normal” reaction to violence, here is what troubles me the most about this scene.
If these three victims were being shot in the heat of anger, in a street fight, in self-defense, or as they were trying to escape in the middle of the night, I could comprehend and even connect with the humanity of the person doing the shooting. Not here. The three men with guns are leading their victims out onto a street sidewalk with people passing by, pushing them down to kneel against a wall in full daylight. It’s casual. It’s almost suggestive of apathy. It’s a photograph of the rotting of the human spirit.
It’s that stench that cannot be ignored or forgotten.