Thursday, February 23, 2012

Let It Snow Snow

Madison has not seen a lot of snowy days this winter, but February shall not pass without one.  Here we're getting a good dose, light and fluffy, with no wind (yet).

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Shooter's Legacy

This week has brought its share of unpleasant excitement, and it's no small thing in a town like Madison, where people know people in a tightly-knit kind of way. We have a friend who can generate family trees, along with temporary relationships and marriages, from generations past, and she's not a Madison native.  Even I, after living here a mere 10 years, know well how many of the townspeople are related to each other, who their kids are, and what their family history is.

But the discovery of an apparent 50-year grudge of one man against another stemming from an incident in high school is a real revelation, the stuff of fiction.  In news reports about the shooting of Norm Johnson by Carl Ericsson, the motive apparently comes from some incident lost to the memories of all but the shooter.  It reminds me a bit of Edgar Allan Poe's story, "The Cask of Amontillado," in which the narrator Montresor reports that he had borne a "thousand injuries" and so sets out to wall away Fortunato in the catacombs to die slowly in revenge for those unidentified injuries.  Poe's story identifies its narrator as the one carrying the grudge, the other not knowing what motive lies behind Montresor's actions.

In any case, the creative writer in me sees the possibilities in this small-town tragedy, dreaming as is my wont about the scene or scenes that may have played out repeatedly in the imagination or memory of the tortured soul.

I'm reminded though, that Poe had an idea of revenge that you'll see in movies and tv shows:  the act of revenge must be known about, that the person seeking revenge must inform their victim and have them know what's being done.  At the end of "Cask," the narrator, noting that it's been 50 years since he walled up Fortunato, still nurses a grudge, having never told his victim what was going on, so what he asks for at the end is perhaps not for Fortunato, but for his own conscience: "In pace requiscat!"  

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Shooter in Madison, SD

Last night nerves were on edge after a fatal shooting occurred in downtown Madison, not far from Dakota State University.  Today they're still a little frayed, with some imagining a threat at every turn, afraid to go out, fearful of someone waiting to injure random citizens.  It's easy to let one's imagination run wild and see a killer on every corner, but I just can't muster up the siege mentality when someone probably had a specific beef and addressed it by attacking someone else.  People usually attack people they know, not random folks. Fault me for minimizing the threat, putting me, the wife, and the dog in danger, but that's my nature, and it keeps my life in the kind of perspective I like.  I'm not the center of the world; important things--things that the history of the world, or even the town, will recall--happen somewhere else.  This thing is not about me.

In the meantime, Madison police are patrolling the streets, looking for a white guy, 50-60 years old, medium height, who was seen driving a maroon, four-door sedan.  Sources say he might be wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap.  The scene played out on Egan Avenue and Fifth Street, near Memorial Park.  Our campus was on lock-down last night but classes resume today.