[This is a fiction I co-authored with Louise Norlie. I will be publishing the story in serial installments, every Monday for the next little while. Stay tuned.]
As a child, I was rather large: tall and heavy. By the time I entered university (on a wrestling scholarship), I was six foot four and weighed two hundred and forty pounds. Long before that I began to read true crime novels about women who “go crazy” and kill their abusive husbands or boyfriends. I read communist literature and the writers of German Idealism. I avoided the newspapers and television. I read chemistry textbooks and books on mathematics, both practical and theoretical. To say the least, my reading interests were varied.
I eventually found work at a small used bookstore, and had plenty of time alone between attending lectures, writing essays, and studying for examinations. I was not invited to parties; I never raised my hand during lecture or tutorial; when called on to speak I gave short and terse, but smart, answers; no one talked to me and I did not approach anyone.
I also read the works of the D.A.F. de Sade, Freud, Maldoror by Ducasse, Bataille, and the French “post-structuralists.”
One night the phone rang as I slept in my room at the university. It was the police. I became immediately suspicious and asked what was going on.
“Are you Dupin Grammar?”
“We have some very terrible news …”
They told me that my parents were killed in a car accident caused by drunk driving; the vehicle that collided with them swerved out of control and hit them while they were on their evening walk.
I blinked. Several times.
They said they were sorry, I did not believe them. I said I understood, but I did not understand: Drinking and driving is illegal. Again, the law had hurt me; or at least had failed to protect me.
They told me that the driver and his passengers, another man and two women, college students, were all very drunk but had survived with severe injuries.
After a while they went away. In my mind I walked into my parents’ empty room and curled up in my parents’ empty bed. Meanwhile I wept tears of blood.
That night: September 11, 2001.
My problem with all that I saw on the news was this: the acts of extremism and terror were not extreme enough, were not terrible enough. The goals of these individuals or organizations were always the same: to disrupt the system and gain control of it, to replace it with what they imagined to be something better. Laughable. Not to mention their choice of targets, which were almost always aimed at economic or political centers, or they targeted innocents who really had nothing to do with the cause they were against. Hysterical.