7/21/2012: The Endless Night After Aurora


It was the day after the Aurora mass shooting. I was watching the same movie at the AMC Uptown in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C.  My companions were a married couple. I didn’t know the wife very well but I had known the husband for 13 years. He was always conservative but he had revealed himself to be a fervent Tea Party supporter and militant NRA member recently. We tried to talk about the shooting in Colorado but he ran the usual Republican playbook (that used to work): (1) “now is not the time to politicize” and (2) “thoughts and prayers”.

Are my companions’ political proclivities important? No? Maybe they are. I’m not sure.

At some point during the movie, I heard a hissing in the theater. In my mind, it sounded like smoke leaving a cannister. If you recall, and I hope you don’t, the Aurora shooter employed smoke canisters as part of his rampage. I was sitting still in my seat but I froze with fear. Based on the laws of probability, the safest place to be after a mass shooting in a movie theater is probably a movie theater but I sure AF wasn’t thinking about logic when that hissing sound started to fill the theater.

But no one else moved or coughed or even seemed to notice. They were all focused on the movie. The sound stopped after only a few seconds and after about ten minutes, my heart started beating again and I resumed breathing.

Was there ever a sound? If so, was I the only one who heard it? Do either of those questions merit answers?


What matters is I was at a fucking movie and I was afraid someone was coming to kill us. It doesn’t matter that it was my imagination or not. That fucking shot shouldn’t ever enter the mind of a person in any civilized country in the world.

But those thoughts were in my world then.  They are safely ensconced in my world now. And I don’t see any reason to believe those thoughts won’t be in my world – your world – our world forever.

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