The Knee’s Jerk: A Play on Expert Analysis of an Active Shooter. (Play, Short Story)


TOMMY:  Bearded, slightly paunchy and in his 30s, with tattoos running up and down on each arm.

DAVE: Older, in his 40s, wearing a T Shirt that says Kill ‘Em All, Let God Sort ‘Em Out.  Dave is also very drunk, but he is used to it by now.

HARRIET: Bespeckled and in her 20s, sporting a ponytail with a shaved midsection on one side.

UNKNOWN MAN: In his 30s, wears a black fedora, dark sunglasses and a black T-Shirt.



Interior of a dive bar. A flickering, blood red neon sign outside reads; The Knee’s Jerk.  Three figures sit huddled at the bar on chipped wooden stools facing a small, flat screened television elevated above the mirrored, dusty bottles behind the bar. The newscast displays ghostly images of carnage and mayhem following a so-called active shooter scenario, somewhere in America.  The Clash’s The Card Cheat plays in the background on the bar’s stereo system.

“He only wanted more time
Away from the darkest door
But his luck it gave in
As the dawn light crept in
And he lay on the floor”

TOMMY: (Points to the TV screen) That is some straight up, crazy shit right there.

DAVE: Yup. Just when you think the world can’t get anywhere crazier. Woop, there it goes. Crazier. But what can you do?

TOMMY: What can you do? I’ll tell ya what you can do. I think it’s pretty obvious. They need to change their gun laws down there. There’s just too many of ‘em. Dude bought dozens of them. Bump stocks. Full auto. Crazy shit.

HARRIET: Well, I think that’s a part of it, but I mean, it’s also pretty obvious he had some mental issues.

DAVE: Mental issues? Dude was bat shit crazy.

HARRIET: Whatever you want to call it. He was probably bullied when he was a kid, or something.

DAVE: Bullied? Are you kiddin’ me? His dad was a bank robber. A psycho. This is genetics pure and simple. The apple don’t fall far from the tree.  Like father, like son. He was a ticking time bomb.

TOMMY: Well, something sure pushed him over the edge, that’s for damn sure.

HARRIET: How come they aren’t calling him a terrorist? That’s what I don’t get.

DAVE: Cuz he’s white, that’s why.

TOMMY: No, it’s cause he didn’t have any affiliations. No religious or political ties.


News Reporting Colour Chart.  Source: Unknown.


HARRIET: Whatever. If you were to ask any of those folks down there what they felt, it was terror. Therefore, terrorist. That’s what did it. If the dude were brown, boom. Terrorist. Or, even better, suspected terrorist attack. Instead, it’s an active shooter.

DAVE: One thing for sure, he fucked up a lot of people. When stuff like that happens, it’s not the ones that go that suffer. It’s the ones that get left behind. It’s senseless.

HARRIET: I’m kind of surprised you feel that way.

DAVE:  How come? What am I, some kind of monster?

HARRIET: Your t-shirt. You could have worn a better one today.

DAVE: (Looking down) Oh..shit.

TOMMY: (Ignoring Them) Yeah, I mean, here we are talking about the shooter. It’s always the shooter did this, the shooter did that, what was the shooter thinking? It should be about the godamn victims. The heroes. Not the godamn villains. Fuck the villains.

A lone figure at the end of the bar begins to laugh.

TOMMY: What’s your problem buddy? You think this is funny?

UNKNOWN MAN: You guys don’t realize what’s really going on, do you?

DAVE: You tell us.

UNKNOWN MAN: Buddy worked for the U.S. Government. Letter carrier, IRS. Then he worked for a defence contractor.


UNKNOWN MAN: So? You ever hear of the Manchurian Candidate? This was the Kennedy assassination 2.0.  He was pre-programmed with some CIA shit. Or someone else did it altogether. That’s why no one knows why he did it. He didn’t do it. He was a Patsy. This was a false flag incident.

DAVE: False flag, how about I shove a false flag pole up your ass?

HARRIET: (Trying to defuse the situation) I’ll tell you one thing though, the media coverage is sick.  All it does is showcase the crazies. The higher the body count the higher the score, like it was a…a football game. The only way to get attention for the losers is to kill as many as they can and they know they’ll be famous.

TOMMY: That’s why we need gun control.

DAVE: Sure we need gun control, but even with gun control you get problems.

TOMMY: Such as?

DAVE: Such as, I mean, look at England. No guns right?

HARRIET: Right. The cops don’t carry guns. I mean the beat cops, they have armed units though.

DAVE: Sure. Right, but the point is, there are like almost no guns over there. But now they got people making godamned acid in their bathtubs or whatever, and throwing it in people’s faces. Not to mention making home made bombs. So even with gun control, there ain’t no way from preventing assholes hurting other people.

HARRIET: You guys keep talking about gun control but what about cars?

TOMMY: What do you mean, cars?

HARRIET: Cars cause like millions of people to die every day. Yet we accept them.  Why don’t we ban cars? Or make it harder to drive them, stricter regulations, like cigarettes. We know they kill, so why don’t we regulate them more?

DAVE: Hey, I’m all for it. Cars are nuts. Drivers are nuts. Speed kills.

TOMMY: Yeah, that made me think of Motorhead. Lemmy.   I read this interview once where the writer hung out with him. You know he was into video poker machines, just like that shooter? One day Lemmy was saying he saw swastikas in there. I’m telllin ya, those machines will fry your brain. That’s all that guy did. Stay up all night, playing those things. Eventually those things will do things to someone.

DAVE: Yeah, but what are ya gonna do?

HARRIET: What are ya gonna do.

TOMMY: (Looking around) Where the hell is the bartender anyway? (Yells out) Change the channel dude!! (Quietly)  This shit is killing me.

They all take a drink. On the bar’s stereo system, Tom Petty’s Breakdown plays.

“There is no sense in pretending
Your eyes give you away
Something inside you is feeling like I do
We said all there is to say

Baby Breakdown
Go ahead and give it to me
Breakdown honey take me through the night
Breakdown now I’m standing here can’t you see
Breakdown, it’s alright
It’s alright
It’s alright”



Top featured, modified illustration courtesy of Public Domain Pictures.

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