Author Topic: Such a pretty day.  (Read 335 times)

Offline Mermaid

Such a pretty day.
« on: August 22, 2021, 08:45:11 PM »
On Friday, I witnessed a random shooting. It was as if I had a front row seat to it. I took a rare day off from work and went to the beach in South Haven, MI. I hadn't been to any beach since before the pandemic.

The kid (and he was just a kid, only 19) sat with his back against the base of the lighthouse, facing the water, a backpack between his feet. At once, he stood up and fired at a couple standing at the very end of the pier who I later learned were husband and wife. They lay there while he continued to walk around on the pier, making his way toward the beach. He walked around in circles on the pier, strutting, really, with a pistol in each hand, Yosemite Sam-style, randomly firing. He was firing at people. At people.

He shot a waverunner that was being ridden near the pier, but didn't hit the person riding it, not for lack of trying. He shot at a man he spotted recording him with his phone from across the inlet. I think he must have shot toward us on the beach. I really don't know. There were so many people in the water. So many kids. He must have stopped a few times to reload, since there were long pauses between bursts of fire.

I sat there in my chair, toes in the sand. It was such a pretty day.

I made a series of decisions Friday that I can’t help but to think about over and over. Decisions that put me right in front of it, center stage. I wondered if I should even go to the beach, it was so hot and I was already a little sunburned. I decided in favor of the beach because it was a beautiful, hot summer day, I had taken the day off from work specifically to go to the beach, and I thought I'd stop at the farm stand on M-43 on my way back to get some more of those delicious heirloom tomatoes (and delicious they are. Holy cow).

I pulled up to the same beach I went to the day before, but at the last minute I decided to change it up. I drove out of the way to go to the main beach there, South Beach, the one with the pier and lighthouse. It's so pretty, and it's really neat to see all the boats and ships cruising out to the lake through the waterway and past the pier. It was such a pretty day.

As I walked toward the water, a family was just leaving the beach with their stuff. Score! This was a real stroke of luck because the beach was very crowded, and they had just vacated a prime spot. I set up camp right at the water's edge next to the pier and then jumped in the fauxcean (Props to my friend Linda) and swam out toward the lighthouse to hydrate my mermaid scales (more props to Linda) before heading back to read and relax and enjoy the zen yet noisy, kid-filled atmosphere of the beach. After I dried off a little, I was thinking I’d put down my book and take a stroll down the pier. It was such a pretty day.

I picked up my phone and snapped a photo of a seagull standing next to me and posted it on Facebook. My book was really engrossing, so I picked it up and started one more chapter. I have heard so many times that life can change in the blink of an eye, and I understood, but it's a lot clearer to me now just how true that is. The gunshots sounded like a pack of firecrackers, they were that fast and close together. I saw a bunch of kids running from the pier, and thought "Naughty boys, setting off fireworks". I smiled and looked back at my book.

I saw it, but I didn't really see it. I sat and watched it all, but I was just not absorbing or comprehending any of it. A gun was absolutely the furthest thing from my mind, even though I could clearly see a man lying motionless on his side in a weird position at the end of the pier, right in front of me. In fact, I snapped a photo of the pier because it was so pretty. I looked at it later and realized the man was in the photo, laying there at the end of the pier. Motionless. (Lifeless).

I am not sure how long I sat there, knowing something was up but not really knowing. Time is a funny thing. If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you understand how it can suddenly become plastic and malleable. It would be impossible for me to say how long I sat there after I heard the first shots. I would not be surprised if you told me it was a full 5 minutes before I truly got it.

It felt as thick as flowing honey, the realization of what was occurring right in front of me. Slow, pleasant, steady. Even while hearing people screaming at their kids to get out of the water, and even while watching people all around me get up and run, it was such a perfect summer day at the beach. The sky was so blue and the water was so warm and clear.

It came to me all at once like a big slap when I heard someone say the word “gun”. Life suddenly, jarringly returned to real-time. I heard more gunshots as I ran up the beach. With several dozen people and their kids, I huddled behind sand-filled bagsters that are meant to control flooding, and which doubled as a conveniently located bullet-proof wall.

A police officer ran by at full tilt while yelling "We still have an active shooter" into his radio. His voice was shaking and he sounded absolutely terrified while he ran right toward the pier as fast as he could. I think that's about the time we heard the final gunshot. The police are the ones who tell us to remain calm, not to panic and walk in an orderly fashion, aren’t they? But of course, they are just like everyone else. Of course they are. Of course they are.

upload pic

A self-portait we took at the pier with our kite camera, 2011.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2021, 08:47:33 PM by Mermaid »
We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.

John F. Kennedy

Offline PopeyesPappy

Re: Such a pretty day.
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2021, 09:22:51 PM »
I'm sorry you had to experience this.

Don't let it change the way you go about your life.
Save a life. Adopt a Greyhound.


Re: Such a pretty day.
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2021, 10:08:43 PM »
Damn. Only time can dull what you saw. We all know deep down that safety in this country is just an illusion but to see a fatal shooting/murder play out...words fail.

Re: Such a pretty day.
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2021, 10:43:59 PM »
Mermaid---horrible, just horrible!  You very easily could show some signs of PTSD, so don't try to ignore any signs that may come up.  Be kind to yourself and seek help if need be. 



About 18 years ago, or so, I had an experience.  Was watching Wheel of Fortune while playing a computer game, so was next to a fairly large window facing a busy street.  Heard a siren which ended just outside my window.  So, I looked, of course.  Saw a small car pulled next to curb near the window, with a police car behind it with lights going.  Looked for awhile.  Got bored and returned to the game.  Not 30 sec. later a gun shot rang out.  Like an idiot, I told my wife to call 911 and I (the stupid part) went out the door and went to the side of the house.  I saw two things.  The officer was down on the sidewalk about 40 ft away and a black girl on a phone standing next to the small car.  As clear as day, I heard her say 'I didn't think he'd do it!'  There were several people on both sides of the street by then and a couple were pointing to our neighbors fence.  I went inside and took our three big dogs into our back yard--came to my senses and all of us went inside.  There was a manhunt in our neighborhood all night.  Helicopters, patrol cars, officers on foot--the whole nine yards.  Not a fun night.  They finally found the guy.  As it turned out, he was a young man in his early 20's who had been a student in my juvenile hall class.  I was called to testify at his trial; not fun but it had to be done.  I taught in the juvenile hall facility and a couple of the grizzled old times suggested that I pay attention to any symptoms of ptsd.  So, I did.  I did feel quite upset for awhile, but realized that that was how most would feel and waited it out.  But at least I realized what my problem was. 

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Re: Such a pretty day.
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2021, 06:57:38 AM »
You very easily could show some signs of PTSD, so don't try to ignore any signs that may come up. 
Concur strongly. I've worked with veterans who were maxed out on the PTSD scale, most of them would have done better if they'd sought help sooner.
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Offline Mermaid

Re: Such a pretty day.
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2021, 12:06:41 PM »
Mermaid---horrible, just horrible!  You very easily could show some signs of PTSD, so don't try to ignore any signs that may come up.  Be kind to yourself and seek help if need be. 



About 18 years ago, or so, I had an experience.  Was watching Wheel of Fortune while playing a computer game, so was next to a fairly large window facing a busy street.  Heard a siren which ended just outside my window.  So, I looked, of course.  Saw a small car pulled next to curb near the window, with a police car behind it with lights going.  Looked for awhile.  Got bored and returned to the game.  Not 30 sec. later a gun shot rang out.  Like an idiot, I told my wife to call 911 and I (the stupid part) went out the door and went to the side of the house.  I saw two things.  The officer was down on the sidewalk about 40 ft away and a black girl on a phone standing next to the small car.  As clear as day, I heard her say 'I didn't think he'd do it!'  There were several people on both sides of the street by then and a couple were pointing to our neighbors fence.  I went inside and took our three big dogs into our back yard--came to my senses and all of us went inside.  There was a manhunt in our neighborhood all night.  Helicopters, patrol cars, officers on foot--the whole nine yards.  Not a fun night.  They finally found the guy.  As it turned out, he was a young man in his early 20's who had been a student in my juvenile hall class.  I was called to testify at his trial; not fun but it had to be done.  I taught in the juvenile hall facility and a couple of the grizzled old times suggested that I pay attention to any symptoms of ptsd.  So, I did.  I did feel quite upset for awhile, but realized that that was how most would feel and waited it out.  But at least I realized what my problem was. 


I'm so sorry you had to see this. How absolutely awful. And thanks for your kind words. I have some great resources available to me and will definitely be getting help. I've seen what post traumatic does to people I know and love, and I have every intention of staying on top of it and being present with it.
We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.

John F. Kennedy

Online Mr.Obvious

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Re: Such a pretty day.
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2021, 12:39:22 PM »
Here if you want to talk or spew, Mermaid.
Just be sure to also reach out to those closer to you, if you feel the need.
Or even if you don't know what you feel.

"If we have to go down, we go down together!"
- Your mum, requesting 69 last night.

Atheist Mantis does not pray.

Re: Such a pretty day.
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2021, 01:03:23 PM »
I'm so sorry you had to see this. How absolutely awful. And thanks for your kind words. I have some great resources available to me and will definitely be getting help. I've seen what post traumatic does to people I know and love, and I have every intention of staying on top of it and being present with it.
I think your experience was worse.  Neither was good.  And I am glad you have a good support system.  Good luck processing that day!
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Offline drunkenshoe

Re: Such a pretty day.
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2021, 03:22:48 AM »
Mermaid, I'm so sorry you have gone through all this. Somehow, I have missed the thread. Be safe. I'm glad to hear you have good support. Hang in there. If you want an ear, I'm over here.
"I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are good people and bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides." Havelock Vetinari

Offline Hijiri Byakuren

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Re: Such a pretty day.
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2021, 05:17:37 AM »
I haven't checked the forum in awhile and missed this thread. Damn, Mermaid, that's fucked up. I'm glad you're okay.
Black lives matter, feminism is good, religion is bullshit, and if you disagree with me on any of these points you are a fucking moron.

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Offline SGOS

Re: Such a pretty day.
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2021, 12:22:10 PM »
I haven't checked the forum in awhile and missed this thread. Damn, Mermaid, that's fucked up. I'm glad you're okay.
Yeah, me too.  I'm really glad you are OK.

Offline Mermaid

Re: Such a pretty day.
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2021, 03:35:35 PM »
I'm sorry you had to experience this.

Don't let it change the way you go about your life.
I have let it change the way I go about life but in a positive way.
I am done with living in a place where I don't feel at home. We're planning to leave the state within the year and move back east closer to our families. To a place with mountains and Taylor Ham and sea food and great grocery stores (GOD HOW I MISS THEM).
We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.

John F. Kennedy

Re: Such a pretty day.
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2021, 03:52:09 PM »
Good for you and your partner.  If it feels better, go East. :)  As opposed to go West, young man. :)
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Offline aitm

Re: Such a pretty day.
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2021, 08:14:48 PM »
I wonder….if people went back to people watching instead of phone watching, if they would notice the guy who looks a bit “strange” or off or pissed or simply weird, if they would put a little more room between them….I mean I watch people cross the intersection of a busy roadway quite content with the belief that everyone will obey the lights while typing furiously on the phone. I have seen mothers push the carriage across the street while staring at their phone. Young women at night downtown looking at their phones while oblivious to who is behind them. It’s just plain stupid.
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Offline Mermaid

Re: Such a pretty day.
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2021, 08:21:04 PM »
In this case we were all distracted by the lake.
We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.

John F. Kennedy