I was a Teenage Mass Shooter

Well, obviously I wasn’t, because I never actually shot anyone – but, looking back, I do wonder if that’s only because I couldn’t get hold of a gun. I used to know the kind of people who knew the kind of people who COULD get me a gun – but every time I asked them if they’d be prepared to help me out they just laughed at me and that was the end of that. But I went through a protracted and hideous phase where the idea of slaughtering streets’ full of shrieking innocents was pretty much the only way I could get to sleep on a night and the only way I could prise myself from my ash greyed and spunk stiffened sheets in the cold, dark mornings.

I’d been out of a psychiatric hospital following a somewhat half-hearted suicide attempt – what I lacked in genuine intent I made up for in blood and drama – for a few months and was living in the top room in a community home for adults with learning difficulties. I worked several shifts there a week and accompanied the residents to their place of work – a local garden centre – during the day between Monday to Friday. In my spare time, I sat alone in a tiny room with a ceiling so low that I couldn’t even stand up straight, drinking Coke, chain smoking and working my way through everything unpleasant and disturbing that the local video shop had on the shelves while listening to the residents fighting and shouting down below. It was the dying days of the eighties, and serial killers were having their blood soaked moment in the sun. I read and re-read Elliot Leyton’s Hunting Humans and watched Manhunter over and over. I fell in love with Francis Dolarhyde, ‘The Tooth Fairy’. Through no fault of his own, despite being a nice guy – he’d been spurned by everyone. Having been consistently spurned, he began brutally murdering all and sundry. I watched William Friedkin’s Rampage and found a place in my atrophied heart for the insane protagonist, Charles Reece – played by Alex McArthur and based on the even more repugnant Richard Chase, the Vampire of Sacramento. God’s lonely men, in the words of Travis Bickle; I was proud to stand – secretly and somewhat hunched in my squalid attic room – amongst them.

I felt their sense of isolation keenly. Like them, I felt like I’d made enough of an effort to be a good guy to have the world cut me some slack – and it hadn’t. Like them, I was spinning through a cold and empty void, failing to connect, drifting ever further from earth orbit, from the warmth of hearth and home. Like them I was losing the tools I needed to allow me to engage with others – my depression and the various abortive and mind scrambling attempts at treating it had made me awkward, stuttering, shrivelled into a moldering, blackened kernel of steadily shrinking self esteem, covered with fresh scars, painfully undernourished. I was lonely – desperately so – and could see no solution. When I went to work with the home’s residents – dressed in my tatty work clothes – I was sure that passers-by would think that I too was suffering from some kind of cognitive impairment, that I was ‘in care’, rather than a carer. Sometimes, at the end of the day, when we were driven back to the house, there wouldn’t be enough seats  for everyone in the car so I’d have to sit in the boot, all misery and folded up spider limbs, and as we crawled through town at rush hour everyone could see me, squashed, dirty, beneath foggy glass in a car full of squabbling lunatics. I hated it. I hated them. I hated everything. It wasn’t fair.

I had a brief kiss once, with someone else’s girlfriend, which allowed me to feel buoyed up with something like hope for long enough to have me crashing  back down into my rightful place amongst the shame and resentment and pizza crusts. I guess I was an incel, before the word existed – I just considered myself to be a killer as yet unblooded. I fantasised about taking my revenge. Every smiling, normal person going about their business, laughing and loving and living a life in the sunshine – they were all despised symbols of the world I felt to be crushing me, like I was some kind of off cut, trapped unnoticed between the cogs of a great machine, being ground to nothing. Walking the streets, I would imagine spraying the crowds with machine gun fire – I’d be noticed then, and they’d – briefly, before pirouetting through shop windows in a spray of glass and arterial blood – regret not having paid attention sooner. Or I’d imagine myself stalking the town at night, a resentful ninja leaning out from the shadows to drag the innocents to their swift and silent deaths. These nebulous plans all fell apart when I settled down to actually decide WHO my victims would be. Obviously not children – they were truly innocent in all this – it wasn’t THEIR fault that I was mentally ill and didn’t have a girlfriend. Not women, either – there just seemed to be something weak and pathetic about killing women just because they didn’t want to go out with me. And I struggled with the idea of killing men, too – a lot of them were probably quite nice, and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for depriving a son of their father, a father of their son. It was all a bit depressing really. It was easy enough to cheer myself up with the idea of wiping out a horde of stereotypes, a mass of blank spaces and convenient ciphers, but when I actually turned up the resolution on these fantasies and started to pick out the details that made the amorphous crowd of oppressors and tormentors human – as human as me, unfortunately for us all – I blanched and put away the imaginary gun that I’d never come close to possessing and just trudged on with my life until things become slightly more tolerable.

If I HAD had a gun – who knows, things may have been different. If there’d been a convenient and quick tool of mass murder to hand – something I could have just pulled from a pocket and started blasting away with – then maybe impulse would have overtaken reflection and I’d have been blowing holes in people like they were targets on a range, before I’d had the time to sharpen the focus sufficiently to perceive their flesh and blood humanity and realise it was not such a good idea.

As it turns out, I never did kill anyone – and eventually, as I became something that resembled an adult, the urge left me entirely, and we all lived happily ever after. the end.

NOTE: If YOU’RE in a place where shooting and/or killing people seems like a good idea…don’t do it; it almost definitely ISN’T a good idea. Reach out to someone – even if it’s someone anonymous like a mental health crisis line, Samaritans or even ME – hell, I don’t mind running some kind of makeshift incel hospital if it’s going to give someone the time they need to be able to get some perspective on what it is they might be thinking about doing. Peace.