Parabellum by Gred Hickey
We know immediately what’s going to happen in this story by Greg Hickey. There are four characters and one of them committed a mass murder at a Chicago beach. It then becomes the story of the victims. Not the victims lying on the beach but the four who could have committed this crime. They, too, were victims in the author’s eyes. How many times have we watched in horror as another mass shooting is reported and asked how a person could do such a thing? The author tells us.
There is a veteran with PTSD, an athlete whose sport life, whose whole life, is over because of repeated concussion become brain injury, there is a student who is alienated and an IT programmer. None of the characters are given a name and in the first few pages I found this a bit confusing but knowing what one of them was going to do I decided the author followed the media’s lead in not naming the person so their desire for fame would not be realized. Then I decided no, he is making each of these people a victim, too. There are real people with real mental health problems who are not getting help. If the only thing they can come to is a desperate last attempt well, they might rightly think that’s all they have left. Not naming his characters makes them potentially all of us and in the healthcare system they are everyone.
The beauty in this story is the personalities of the characters and realizing their internal struggle. Student at one point tries to explain how he feels to his mother, who has no understanding of how to help him but would if she knew how. I read the soccer star’s story and worried about my own soccer loving grandchildren’s future. The programmer was obviously detached from reality right from the beginning of his life, for awhile I considered the programmer to be slightly autistic but then changed my mind as he progressed. There was deep sorrow for the veteran of Iraq and his struggle with the VA for help in a form other than, well, a form. The student had everything against him. He grew faster than his peers, was smarter, wasn’t sports oriented and because of this, painfully shy. I wouldn’t live those years again for love nor money.
While reading I was trying to decide who was going to become so desperately unhappy and ill that spraying a busy beach with bullets was the thing to do and it wasn’t until it happened that I knew for sure. To keep me going till the very last page, well, that’s the sign of a good book!