An horrific crime has lately topped the newscasts and provided front page fodder for countless papers. Two male teens, one 14, the other 17, approached a mother walking her 13-month old son in a stroller and demanded that she give them money. She declined. In response, the older of the two teens pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the child in the stroller. “You want me to kill your baby?” he asked.
The suddenly terrified mother explained that she had no money, and so the teen shot the toddler in the face, killing him instantly. The gunmen fired at the mother, too, but only wounded her. The perpetrators fled but were apprehended within hours.
Try as I might, I’m unable to think of a fictional scenario involving a crime like this that I could write. It amounts to an exercise in utter futility, as I have far too much respect for readers. I would never foist such inexplicably evil, mindless lunacy on anyone. Such a crime is simply too senseless and reprehensible.
My bad guys (and gals) have histories. There are reasons why they’re corrupt. They feel justified in whatever they do, regardless of how strongly the rest of the world condemns it. In every case, however, the reader knows the “why” behind the crime. They would rarely agree with the logic used, but they would admit some level of understanding.
When it comes to the murder of that child, there can be no such understanding. There can be no justification; there can only be torment, anguish and outrage.
A reader wouldn’t buy a fictional version of such a crime, nor would any reputable editor or agent. And yet, I imagine it will only be a short while before something very like this shows up in a book or a short story. I hope not, but I admit to a growing cynicism when it comes to the modern world. Still, I have great respect for my art, and that of my fellow writers, so I pray that none of us allows this sort of horror ever to be reflected in our work.
This is not the kind of life which art should ever imitate.