As Sean and Clark enter the hospital, they come across a poster of Roger Ebert, taken for the February 2010 issue of "Esquire," in which he uses text-to-speech software and chicken scratch to communicate his thoughts about life and death. His jaw is missing and his face is sculptured like a plum. On the poster, they see a thought balloon over his head saying "I can't talk anymore." And then below his jaw, another thought balloon says "Cancer has robbed me of my voice."
And underneath the poster, written in bold black letters, is the tagline "Don't End Up Like Roger Ebert." And under it it says, "Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit http://www.smokefree.gov today. Remember, you can quit." After they pass the poster, someone walks along and tears it off the wall before tearing it in pieces.
"Fucking Ebert!" the man says. "They're using that jerk to stop us smokers from enjoying what we love."
As he throws the poster into the trash, a janitor sitting nearby claps his hands and says, "Applause! Applause! Sieg Heil!" The man comes over and belts him in the jaw, sending him straight on his back.
"Sieg Heil My Ass, motherfucker!" he says. And he walks out of the building before anyone knows about the incident. As he disappears into the night, we hear him saying this:
"We don't care
if you choke!
We got rights,
and we're gonna smoke!"
"Thank God you're here, Mr. Harrigan," the doctor, a 50 year old balding man says. "Caitlin's ex-boyfriend rode in on his motorcycle and started shooting. Your daughter was hit in the face 3 times before he went on to shoot some of the others."
"How is she?" Sean asks.
"We did all we could, Mr. Harrigan," the doctor says sadly. "We lost her."
"Oh, my God!" Sean screams before breaking down and crying on the floor. Clark walks to a nearby chair and collapses, crying with his hands in his face. 3 or 4 other families are being told about the deaths of their children. More victims are coming in by the minute as the death and injury toll mounts.
Back at the Store, Prema has locked up and is walking down to her car when one of the cops comes over to see her.
"Prema, did you hear?"
"Caitlin Harrigan was killed by her ex-boyfriend at the prom this evening."
"I'm not. Some bastard came in and shot her and several others before taking off. Some of his bullets caused the equipment to overheat and catch fire. One of my men shot him as he was going down the street. He got hit and crashed into the Pemex USA station just off Rte. 53. The place's been totalled."
"Oh, my God." Prema bows her head in sadness at the news. "What about the rest of the gang?"
"Nearly 50 are dead, 110 are injured. The fire exits were chained by the management, so they had to jump out windows to save themselves."
"What's happening to this town?"
"I don't know, Prema. I just don't know."
By the time the morning papers come out, the death toll stands at 57, most of them high school students on the verge of graduation. More than 110 more are injured, some of them with life threatening injuries. As plans are made for the mass funerals, people across New England are asking what happened, how it happened, and why it happened.
Tyler, who's on his way to visit his wife in the nursing home, meets Marvin.
"Did you hear?" Marvin asks.
"No, what?" Tyler asks.
"Sean Harrigan's daughter's dead," Marvin says. "She died at the prom last night."
"My God," Tyler replies. "How'd it happen?"
"Her ex-boyfriend burst into the prom on his cycle, shot at her and most of the other students before setting the place on fire."
Suddenly, the man who tore the poster at the hospital passes them by. Marvin looks look suspiciously at him.
"What are you looking at me for?" he tells the two men. "I didn't do anything. I wasn't even near the high school last night." And he walks away.
"We didn't say you did, buddy," Tyler says sarcastically. "We were talking about someone else."
To be continued...