This one's a little dark.
I saw something yesterday that I can't get out of my head. I was driving down the street, headed back to work after an open house at my niece's school, just a few blocks from being back at the office, when I saw something weird in the minivan just ahead of me. There was a guy in a plaid shirt trying to climb backward into the back seat, which caught my eye. Once there, he turned to one side and looked like he was yelling. We're at a red light now, and he has my full attention. I'm watching this and thinking that there's just something off about what I'm watching - there are a few grown men in the car, this guy is climbing around while they're on the road, and he's yelling at someone I can't see, which makes me think it was a child.
The light turns green, and I look away as I start to move. When I sneak a glance back at the van, I see the guy in the plaid shirt facing the back window, winding his arm back, and bringing it down as hard as he obviously can onto whoever is in the back seat. Again. And again.
He's beating the living shit out of someone. I'd never seen anything like that before. A fight in high school, with two equally-sized people duking it out, sure. A shoving match between adult men, yeah, I've seen stuff like that. But this was so different. Time slowed down. I couldn't breathe. I was watching what I am sure was a child being beaten mercilessly and I was the only one to see it. It was a moment I never want to experience again. I feel sick just writing this. There's such a knot in my stomach it hurts. I can't help but think of my niece, and how I'm watching a kid like that being viciously pummeled by a grown man.
The van sped away, and I lost sight of the guy in the back seat, but I followed. I called the police, followed them as far as I could until they tore through a red light and got away from me, but I have no idea how that turned out. I hate that. I can't stand not knowing. I hated that I had to just go back to work after that happened. I was glad that I'd been there to see and to try to tell someone, the police, and that I had the presence of mind to pull out my phone and dial the right number. I don't think I've ever called 911 for something real before. I hope I never have to again.
More than anything, I hate knowing that people do such heinous things; it's one thing to understand that it happens, but to see it, to have it plastered to your mind's eye is another thing. Someone was beating a child, and it wasn't a backhanded slap or even a single strike, it was a real beating, an intentional infliction of pain on a harmless kid.
I've been angry for the last day and a half since I saw that. I can't stop thinking about it. I want nothing more than for that van to pull up in front of me and park, so that the animal inside of me can unleash its own violence on someone that would commit such an evil act. I know that's not going to happen, and I can already hear my own head wringing with different iterations of 'violence is not the answer', but goddammit if it doesn't sooth the fire of hate I feel to imagine letting that fire burn that fucker in the plaid shirt.
Soon after that happened I dipped into my familiar daydreams of vigilante justice. I love the idea of it. That was the whole point of my second book, the allure and ultimately the fallacy of such a direct attempt to set things right, to balance the scales. Something similar inspired Will and that book, and I found myself this morning thinking about that character. He's one of my favorites. He represents to me the satisfaction of the vigilante. I started imagining him carrying on his mission after the end of Taking the Reins (I don't think I'm dropping any spoilers here, but I apologize if I do), because it is just so reassuring to think of someone out there hunting down the kind of people who would rape a woman or beat a child and bringing them to immediate, well-deserved justice.
I realized this morning that my second book was an outlet for my own frustration with a world that can seem so unfair at times, and I understood that while some time has passed since I wrote that and got some of it out of my system and onto the page, I still need that outlet. There's hate within me, within all of us, and I'm just glad I have a place to put mine.