I own a crystal ball — the real thing, polished quartz, about three and a half inches in diameter. It’s from Timmy and Kim’s store, and I keep it (as they did) on a delicately carved, pre-ban ivory stand, a kind of tube about an inch high. I used to pick up our son from after-school care a few minutes before 6 every weeknight. That’s how I know where I was when it happened. I even recall reconstructing exactly what I was doing, but that didn’t make it memorable.
There must have been dinner, but I remember nothing – the phone rang. It was my brother Mike: “There’s been a shooting at the jewelry store. Kim is on the way to the hospital, and Timmy is still in the store.” I understood every word. None of it registered. The meaning of each word landed, but not in a pattern intelligible to me – if Kim was going to the hospital, she must have been hurt: Why wasn’t Timmy with her? What was so important in the store? So I was wrong-footed as I tried to form questions, when Mike got to the point, saying about how the police were there, too (which didn’t clarify anything: Einstein I ain’t in a crisis): “I’m not going to lie to you. He’s dead.”
That was the first fact to fly by me that I could grasp, so I made a grab to dispute it: “But that’s not official,” which is possibly the dumbest thing I could have said at that moment. (I’ve given this some thought, since. Nope, that’s the dumbest.)
After the wake, the funeral, the “Isn’t it grand, boys,” there was a moment at the store where we all gathered. It was no longer a crime scene, the yellow tape was gone, but still big piles of flowers outside. There were miscellaneous thingamobobs the family had agreed anyone could ask for, as keepsakes – that’s how I got the crystal ball, which was never for sale: I don’t know where they got it. Just a display item – decoration.
I took one of the store’s business cards, the one on top of the stack in the little box by the register; it was between where they were found. I felt in some odd way it was a witness. Still have it.
One of Timmy and Kim’s kids is an effective, passionate advocate for better gun laws. The other is an actual freakin’ rock star, makes a living making music. He co-wrote a song for Newtown Kindness with the chorus: “We are how we treat each other, and nothing more.” So I know we will have better gun laws – soon.
After all, I have a crystal ball.