I’ve fired a gun. The first time, within an indoor shooting range; the second, an outdoor spread, both just north of my hometown (Cincinnati), wherein my immediate and relative family members were surprised–impressed–that the liberal outlier of the crowd could out-aim his sister, at the time a Marine. From significant range, I popped through targets with accuracy. It was exhilarating. It was also a terror. I recall with real imprinted accuracy the thought that I could turn at any moment, this undeniable instrument of death between my palms, and end the life of more than a couple blood relations. (As noted, I’m a hell of a shot.) This thought, unwanted, scared the hell out of me. I’m not sure–despite how powerful it felt to squeeze the trigger, how proud I was to nail the target, belying the doubts of those around me–that I ever want to hold a gun again. Mine is an addictive personality, dueled with a desire to know true confidence. It’s the reason I won’t, will never, touch cocaine–I know I’d love it, and down the rabbit-hole I’d go.
Javon Belcher, Kansas City Chief linebacker, fired nine shots into the mother of his three-month-old daughter yesterday, in the audience of his own matriarch–a live-in surrogate to said child–then raced to his workplace, the athletic complex composed of Arrowhead Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, and attendant practice facilities. Upon arrival, abandoning his car, he paced the pavement, resisting pleas from his general manager to give it up, no more violence, please, desperate attempts at connection, outreaches echoed in moments, in vain, by his head coach and other personnel not yet identified. Belcher thanked them for all they’d done for him. They tried, they tried, they tried. They stood face-to-face with a murderous man in whose hand was a gun. It didn’t work. Their charge thanked them, insistent gratitude, for all they’d done for him, his young career, and then he turned his feet away. His back turned to their faces, he walked a direction opposite, and raised the weapon–already an accomplice to murder–to his head. Scott Pioli, the GM; Romeo Crennel, the head coach; that unknown personage, the extra man…they watched as their employee, their player, their friend, that charge decided–with real definition–to end his life. Belcher pulled the trigger, for the tenth time that day. It cemented his legacy. It completed a tragedy. A final, terrible act of a horrible play.
I suffer–and, in service of which, am medicated for–mental illness. “Obsessive-compulsive disorder.” It is a mental, chemical imbalance with which I’ve lived all my years (brushing thirty so far). It informed me well before I knew its nature, and with it I have come to terms, dealing well on my good days, less so on the lesser. Plenty of true friends, too, grapple with issues of similar cerebral malfunction, major depression, bipolar, chronic anxiety, each appendicized by that same word as my own diagnosis, “disorder.” The devastating anarchy of a tortured mind knows no bounds in the brain of the beholder.
(It undermined one of the two, so far, true and lifelong romantic relationships of my life. “Post-traumatic stress,” would be the preface to that strain. Our minds are mazes. By nature or visited pain, they too often lead to the opposite of reason.)
I cannot posit any explanation for Javon Belcher’s decision, putting his lover to death in so horrific a fashion, not least his decision to damn those figures of authority to be haunted until their own by the image of his death. I have no–and hope I never possess–any comprehension of how sociopathic a mental break must be required to kill another human, let alone one’s self. But, in the wash of all that’s passed, these horrid, incomprehensible hours, knowing, yes, that a young woman–a mother–will be buried, that an infant of nursing age (three months alive, dear God) is now an orphan, I cannot help but throw my thoughts to the misbegotten, incomprehensible nature of this lost soul. Javon Belcher. By most accounts, he was a striving, thriving young man. God, or whoever, only knows what pushed him over this terrible, precipitous brink.
As noted, I’d never fire a gun at another person. In even my darkest hours, I wouldn’t have the balls, and, even then, I know I’d only manage to raise the barrel to my temple before shaking my head, dropping my arm, lighting a cigarette, and likely taking a drink of bourbon. It’s a selfish, selfish act, suicide. And, fuck, homicide…? That goes without saying.
I do wonder, though, now. I wonder whether Javon Belcher could’ve been helped. I wonder whether he knew what he was doing. On instinct, I believe in my heart he did not, until he knew what it was he had done. (He was so young.) I wonder whether that child will inherit, or develop, horrific brain-based issues of her own. I wonder what’s appropriate, how to accept this, as a sports fan, as a humanist, as a painful empathetic whether I like it or not. I wonder what the fuck it all means, because, Jesus Christ–this has all been fucking horrible.
I wonder whether uber-controversial columnist Jason Whitlock is right to turn this into an issue of gun control. I’m a liberal, but I don’t know. There seem to me issues more prominent worth addressing.
Then again, never will be here easy answers. Then again, too, I’m crazy. So too, it appears, was Javon Belcher. Linebacker. Chief. Boyfriend, father. Lunatic, suicide, murderer, deceased. There was no moment of silence for him at the game played today, which, given circumstance, is as it should be. Yet, I cannot bring myself to alliance with those who condemn, taking to Twitter, because…I don’t know. I just can’t.
May he, his mind, Kasandra and their memories rest in peace. May their orphaned daughter thrive. May we all learn something from this horror. I don’t know what that may be. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. God damn. Life’s most painful lessons linger too often beyond our human grasp.
Two people knew each other, became lovers, and gave us a child. One of those people played a sport for a living. Before he left, he did a terrible, terrible thing. In this action, did he underline our fear of the worst? Or reaffirm our need to cleave to the best?
At this point, I just don’t know.