I was working on a novella called Baptism by Piranha when the red phone rang. It was my good friend Monty Gelstein, calling to update me on his search for a way to partially light the darkness.
“There was a fatal hunting accident in northeastern Utah over the weekend, and all I can think about are the bastards who live to hunt again,” Monty said, sounding despondent.
“You’ve got to try to focus on the positive,” I told him. “Let’s use the hunting accident in Utah as an example. Tell me about that incident.”
“Two brothers set out to murder pronghorn and one ended up shooting the other in the head,” he explained. “I mean, I’m psyched that one of the brothers won’t be terrorizing wildlife anymore, but the other — the shooter — he’s still out there, armed and murderous, with nothing to stop him from exercising his savage bloodlust.”
“You’ve got to be able to recognize that thanks to this incident the drooling class is down a member,” I said. “And any way you measure that the result is positive.”
“It’s just so hard to celebrate when I know the slaughter continues,” he said.
“What would have made the incident in Utah worth celebrating?” I asked.
“I’d be a pretty satisfied dude had the two brothers gunned each other down,” Monty said, “or had the shooter decided he couldn’t live with what he’d done and offed himself right then and there.”
“There!” I shouted. “That’s it!”
“That’s what?” Monty asked, less-than enthusiastically.
“Hope,” I told him, with as dramatic a delivery as I could muster.
“Where?” Monty asked, as if literally looking around.
“We can hope that the surviving brother catches a bullet himself, the next time he sets out to murder animals,” I reasoned.
“Do you know the odds of that happening?” he snapped.
I was pretty sure he had those numbers at his disposal. Still, undaunted, I pressed on.
“We can hope that the surviving brother takes his own life,” I said. “That’s certainly within the realm of possibility. And there’s nothing stopping you from encouraging him. That would be a super-constructive exercise, don’t you think?”
Several seconds of silence passed before Monty abruptly announced the end of our conversation.
“I’ve got to go,” he said, his voice more spirited. “I’m going to call the surviving brother.”
I hung up the phone and created a Google Alert that will let me know when Monty has successfully convinced the surviving brother to take his own worthless life.