An innocent bystander is usually one who bears witness to some horrific event the human psyche` cannot bear. Some bystanders arrive at such events through an accident of birth. What intervention can we offer them? Are they doomed to a life of paranoia and guilt, or of inadequacy and shame? The events here are quoted verbatim. Only the names have been changed to protect the survivors More
Tim would hardly have to listen at his parents' bedroom door to understand what was happening. In fact, he could find nowhere in the house to escape the loud and tearful exchange.
"Bethany, I'm going to leave you. You know that I'm in love with another woman. I'll give you this big house out here where you can raise these kids in peace and security. I have to get on with my life and, honey, it pains me to say that my life is not with you"
"ED, YOU CAN'T LEAVE ME!! DON'T LEAVE ME!! I CAN'T LIVE MY LIFE ALONE!!"
"I've given you all I can, Beth. This is over. I have to go and go with her."
"ED, WHERE WILL I GO?? WHAT CAN I DO?? I LOVE YOU!!! DON'T GO!!"
On and on it went as Beth pleaded with Ed to stay for the sake of the family, while Ed pleaded for a new life and to end his stagnation with Bethany. Taking the last word herself, she trumped his ace with her final plea.
"Ed!," Beth started, "I know you have guns in this house!! Five of them - and they are all loaded!! I know where you keep them and, so help me GOD, if you leave me I'll use one to kill myself!! You hear me!?! I'll put that gun to my head and kill myself right in this very room!!"
"You have no idea where they are!," Ed sneered. "And you don't know how to use them if you can find 'em!! You'll do nothing of the sort!!"
Bethany jerked open the top drawer of his dresser and pulled his socks aside. There lay the .38 Special, given to Ed by her own father, complete with holster. The entire family knew that Ed kept all of his guns loaded at all times.
"THERE!! THERE IT IS!! I KNOW WHERE ALL OF THEM ARE!! I CAN FIND 'EM, AND I'LL USE 'EM!! I'LL KILL MYSELF LIKE THIS!!"
At that Beth jerked the big cold revolver out of the holster and pointed it toward her head. Ed grabbed the gun in her hands and pulled with all his might. The two wrestled with the deadly weapon.
"God-damn it, Beth!!," Ed screamed. "Gimme that damn thing!! What the hell is wrong with you!!"
Beth fought with everything she had. She threw her weight into Ed's chest and pulled the gun back.
"IF YOU'RE GONNA LEAVE ME, I MIGHT AS WELL DIE RIGHT HERE AND NOW!!"
She managed to cock the hammer of the big gun and was looking down the barrel. Ed struggled with the woman he had married years before, the mother of his two kids and the woman who had shared his bed. To his surprise, she could use the gun well enough to fulfill her vow. They went on snarling and cursing each other, wrestling over the big gun.
Directly over his parent's bedroom, Tim lay in his bed upstairs. Even with a pillow over his head he could not block the terrible sound. Holding her ears, Rachel hid in her closet downstairs, next door to her parents' room. Had the gun gone off, the bullet would cut through the wall or the ceiling like a torch through paper and Tim or his sister might be killed. Finally, the gun came away in Ed's strong hands.
"You crazy BITCH!! You could've been KILLED, woman!!"
"That's the idea!! And I WILL be dead if you try to leave me!! I mean it, Ed."
Bethany threw herself on their bed and sobbed. Ed slid the loaded revolver back into its holster, buried among his socks where it had been before. As he closed the drawer, he stared at the revolver for a brief moment. If Beth were really suicidal, if she might REALLY kill herself, he could just get rid of this big gun. Maybe even the one stashed in the head of the bed, just for protection. He might hide both the guns on the closet shelf or even the one in the basement. Did she REALLY know where all the guns in the house were? How could she? Even Tim didn't know where they all were. Probably.