Showing posts with label consolidation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label consolidation. Show all posts

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Alone in the night

Terrors, and other dark thoughts, come in the night.

They lurk in the shadows, waiting for the witching hour, consolidating their dark forces for the assault on the lonely human soul. Yes, terrors come in the night.

WEDNESDAY, terror also came in the day to Omaha, my home -- to this stolid yet quirky city on the Missouri River. A tormented, 20-year-old loser screwed up one time too many, then listened yet again to the demon on his shoulder, the one telling him he was human excrement and to do something about it.

The Omaha World-Herald today
quotes what that devil was whispering in Robbie Hawkins' ear, which he faithfully copied onto his suicide note: "I'm a piece of shit, but I'm going to be famous now."

Infamous, actually.

He took his father's old Russian SKS semiautomatic assault rifle. He took a couple of clips and some ammo, too. He taped the clips together, so he could reload in the blink of an eye.

Then he drove his used Jeep Cherokee to Westroads Mall and shot up the Von Maur department store. He blew away eight innocent human beings, then he blew himself to Kingdom Come.

Or somewhere.

BUT THIS POST isn't about young Mr. Hawkins and his Final Solution to a life gone south. This post is about the terrors that come in the dark of the night to a mostly tranquil city of 425,000, where the big news a couple of days ago was the Nebraska Cornhuskers' new football coach.

Well, that was the big news, until. . . .

Nebraska has seen nothing like this since the days of Charles Starkweather, who 50 years ago set out on a killing spree so notorious that it inspired Bruce Springsteen to write an entire gothic, folk-rock masterpiece of an album. But it took Starkweather a whole month to do what he did.

Omaha is reeling as I write this in the wee, dark hours. Christmas trees stand as blinking affronts to bereft families in houses that are one person emptier than they should be.

Spouses are dead. Friends are gone. Children are orphans now, in the black of this December night.

Terrors descend on a bereft, shell-shocked city. And we need someone to talk to. We need the light of a candle -- figurative, literal, metaphorical . . . I really don't give a good g**damn -- because we are just too bloody tired, and heartbroken, to curse the darkness anymore.

BACK IN THE DAY, I remember when one (or more) local radio stations would stand in the gap, helping beat back the terrors for a sleepless city. A city that dares not sleep for fear of what it might dream.

Oldsters like myself remember reassuring voices in the night -- friends as close as the radio on the night table. They were there, in the air, soothing our frayed nerves with good music.

They were there, taking calls from the wide-awake and brokenhearted (and even letting some of us talk it all out over the air and into the ether) when tragedy visited in bygone days.

They. Were. There.

When. We. Needed. Them.

The voices in the night were there when madmen shot the Kennedys.

They were there when a madman shot Martin.

They were there when Elvis died, and when a nut named Chapman killed John Lennon.

They were there through all manner of local calamities, storms and crises. But that was then, in a land called Back in the Day.

TONIGHT, for some unfathomable reason, I turned on the radio. On one of our public stations, the news . . . from the BBC. I switched the wireless to AM and tuned to
KFAB, the blowtorch of the Midwest -- the station generations of Omahans listened to to see if the morning's snow canceled the day's classes . . . back in the day.

I remember back in 1988, when Omaha had been lashed by a line of hellacious storms, including at least one tornado. Much of the city was dark. The wife and I were struggling to salvage the contents of our fridge.

Our light came from wax, a wick and a flame, and our link to the world was a battery radio. It was tuned to 1110 AM. The DJ was informative, the music was middle-of-the-road, and the turntables ran fast . . . then slow . . . then fast . . . then slow, for the emergency generator was a bit hinky.

In these small hours, I sit here trying to make sense of the madness that came to my city Wednesday. And when I tuned to dependable ol' KFAB -- now just another brick in the Clear Channel wall of suck -- hoping against hope to hear a friendly voice in the night, I heard. . . .


THE TRANSMITTER was on, but nobody was home. Not even George Noory, who usually at that hour is chasing the spacemen on Coast to Coast A.M. Nope, at 1:07 a.m., there was complete dead air.

And complete dead air at 1:17. And 1:27. And 1:37, except for the ID and commercials that ran right on schedule at 1:32.

We're on our own. It's just us . . . and those terrors in the night.