I'm reading a book at the moment. Nothing unusual in that, I'm always reading a book. Not the same book all the time, I hasten to add. I turn them over every few days. Some I love, some I toss, others I wade through if I'm committed like to my Book Club or to the loan from a friend or rellie who tell me I really, really, really will love the book and I'm puzzled by Page 102, enraged by Page 240, resigned at Page 425, relieved at page 450 that the agony is over, and then drum my fingers for a week wondering what to say to the passionate lender.
All challenges should be so small.
All this in the way of telling you about this book I'm reading. My favourite genre of thriller-crime: a soupcon of savagery flavoured with a heavy undercurrent of character exploration topped off with the police having their own psychological issues. Multi-layered in other words.
Well, there's a scene in this book, post the crime/murder, where all these sightseers pack their rucksacks and go off to view the bloody crime scene, middle-aged trekkers, young parents with children, elders on sticks. Making a day of it. The police are challenged to control them, there are so many of them and so few of the police. Ordinary people, like you and me, all anxious to get their thrills from the bludgeoning death of another human being. Much like the rubber-neckers at a car accident. But these people are taking a journey to get there. Sometimes a whole day trip from 100 miles away. (These crimes only take place in the English countryside - don't they all?!)
And I was reminded of this engineer I worked with. A mild wee man, married forever to a rather pretty French woman. Childless. He blamed her and she blamed him for this infertile state. I don't think they knew that about each other. Anyways.....
There was a terrible car accident about 30 miles from where we worked in which five teenagers were killed rounding a corner on a narrow country road, speeding and crashing into a huge tree with the car bursting into flames. They had all recently graduated from high school.
I asked Phil, during our Monday morning coffee break what he and Claudine had done on the weekend.
"Oh," he said, "We took a picnic and went out to Caledon to have a look at that accident site. That big one."My curiosity overrode my revulsion. I mean....what?
"Do you do this much?"
"Oh, yes," he said pleasantly, chewing on a muffin, "All the time. But only for the more serious accidents, where there's at least one fatality."
"And what do you do when you get there?"
"Oh, we set up the picnic nearby and spend the afternoon looking at the scene and any remains or burn-marks or bits of wrecks. And then we watch people bring flowers and teddy bears, you know how that is if young people or children die..."
"Oh yes. We meet the same people usually, others like ourselves who like to see the aftermaths, we rate them you see. Compare them to other scenes we've been at. Take pictures sometimes if they're particularly interesting."
They walk among us.
Passing for normal.