40,000 - 60,000
What's it all about?
High school custodian Frank Batch's life begins to unravel when the grumpy (and alcoholic) cleaner becomes the unlikely hero in a tragic school shooting. What does it mean to be good? Does society even want heroes? Hounded by the media and put back in contact with his estranged ex-wife and daughter, Batch navigates these new waters of popularity the only way he knows how: with disregard to empathy, and a terrible attitude.
“He’s got a gun!” Coach Wilson shouted. No shit, Sherlock. Coach Wilson was one of the fattest coaches I’ve ever seen. I think he ran out of breath just saying that. He disgusted me.
First of all, these kids were all gonna die if they pulled that duck and cover crap. Someone had to get them out of there, and Coach Wilson looked like he was 2 steps from a heart-attack. Let’s be honest; he looked like he physically needed help getting out of there.
“Get the shit outta your shoes and run!” I called out, making a tactical retreat behind the custodial cart. I threw my mop to the floor. As I pulled the cart backwards, The Shooter fired twice at me. The bullets ricocheted off the cart. I hoped they wouldn’t catch any kids in the crossfire. He realized he wouldn’t catch me with this approach and turned back toward the crowd. It had dispersed. Now he faced me again. I was halfway out the door, but my day was just beginning.
“It doesn’t have to be this way.” I plead to the shooter.
“Do you believe that?” He pulled the trigger. A bullet emerged from his gun, slowly, then all at once. His aim was deadly and his victim crumbled like fresh Chips Ahoy...Original. I could only watch as I guided children to safety.
I’ve dealt with death in my life. But not so much in this manner. It’s different from the movies and TV shows. There are no special effects. There’s no excitement; no suspense. What there is...is a brief sound. It lasts less than a second, and it’s gone by the time you realize it’s there. Then a creeping dread, like how you feel sobering up in the early morning after a night of drinking. You see the kid who you loaned 5 bucks to yesterday for lunch, lifeless on the floor of a cold gym in a pool of blood, with some zit-faced psycho standing over him. Only he doesn’t look crazy, he’d look perfectly normal without the gun in his hand. All your scary thoughts late at night that you forget when you wake up in the morning; they’re real. No, there’s no high octane thrill; there’s simply a dullness, eating your heart. And if you’re me...anger.
On the hill there’s a dragon, but the fire in my eyes is hotter than the flames on his breath.
On the outside I’m just a guy with a mop, but on the inside...I'm holding the gun. The last of the kids were were running out of the gym behind my cart, and I kicked it harder than I kicked my son when I caught him smoking cigarettes, and I was just as furious. It launched toward the shooter, squeaking and squealing along the way. The school better give me some goddamn repair funds for those wheels after this. I ran behind the cart, following its trajectory. The shooter lifted his arm to fire. I jumped and rolled over the cart as it collided with the monster, pulling my old broom from the side compartment in the process. He was knocked off balance.
I jerked my forearm and launched the broom up toward his unmentionables, imagining I was shooting for the sky. The jagged bristles sliced and diced vertically athwart his partially imprisoned scrotum, which was now bleeding out of the slashes on his basketball shorts created by my unmaintained broom.
“Not all dogs go to heaven,” I whispered, as he stumbled to the ground.