My sons engage in a Friday night ritual known as Magic: The Gathering. I don't pretend to understand it—it's a game, it's a game involving cards and there are points and some events are held solely to build decks and some cards can be worth a lot of money, but I'm not sure how since this isn't a betting game and I swear the next time they drop cards on the floor and leave them there I'm going to hurt somebody and sometimes their friends come to play but Friday night they go to the comic shop for Friday Night Magic.
They get there by 6, they're home by midnight. I miss them because they used to hang out with us on Friday night, but they're past that point in their lives. Even the owner of the Chinese restaurant comments on it: "Only two? No boys?" he asks and I say, "No boys. They don't like us anymore," even though I know it's not true. This Friday, though, Sam stayed home because he's on restriction—the kid has one job—school—and he has been pretty half-assed at his job and gaaaah! just do your homework why don't you—and so Bobby went on his own.
He came home much earlier than normal and came straight to our room, also not normal. He knocked so as to avoid seeing us doing something embarrassing and then came in and sat on the bed. "I'm going to tell you something because you're going to find out anyway and then you're going to be pissed off at me for not telling you." (As an aside, it must be a pain in the ass to have a parent, specifically a mother, who's a journalist because there is just no way to keep a secret from a mother who's a journalist.) And then he told me the place he plays Magic, Current Comics, had been robbed at gunpoint. Two boys, two hoodies, two ski masks and two guns. They came in and demanded the register take, and the wallets of the dozen or so kids hanging out. And one of them pointed a gun directly at my son's chest while they were robbing the store. He was standing less than four feet away.
They got away with the register take, about $300, cash from some of the players' wallets and a laptop.
"Were you scared?" I asked my son, because how could you not be. "Not really," he said. "Nobody tried to fight them, nobody resisted, there was no reason for them to shoot anyone." But I know, and he knows, that if you're the kind of guy who takes a gun to commit a robbery you might not need a reason, a provocative action on the part of the victim, to shoot.
Which is why I'm awake at 3am and writing this. My son and his girlfriend went to a movie tonight and when he came home he came straight to our room, knocked so as to avoid seeing anything embarrassing and asked if it was normal to feel on edge after having a gun pointed at you. "Totally normal," I told him, but more importantly, so did his father, also known as the calmest man in the world. Chuck told him that he, too, was upset about it. We all know I was upset about it because, hello, that's my function in the family. Bobby said he thought he had a panic attack after the movie when they were going to 7-11 to get ice cream. The new guy who moved in across the street was staring at him and it put him on edge. My stomach has been in knots all day and I can't sleep either. I'm doing this instead.
Have you ever had a gun pointed at you? I have. Similar circumstances. I was 17 and working at a fast food place on the South Side and a guy came in late one Sunday night and robbed us. I was working the register; I took his order, I turned around to make the order and next thing I know he's yelling at me, "Hurry up, get it in the bag!" I turn around saying, "Sir, I am going as fast as I can," and that's when I see the gun. I freeze. I forget how to open the register. We don't bother locking the drop boxes below the registers, so I pull the money from there and hurry up and get it in the bag.