June 2022 Flash Challenge, Day 27
The sad thing was, it was not her rabbit.
The tragedy might have been much worse if LeRoy had not been there. The young boy became a hero when he chucked his oversized history book at the shooter’s head. LeRoy was a hero, and the town was abuzz with well-meaning if offensive banter like, “Well, at least it wasn’t a mass shooting.”
The kid (hardly a kid at all at 23) had been kicked out of the Marines for mental health issues and incidents. He had arrived with a lot of clips.
He had worn a bullet-proof vest with a note in the inner pocket. Suicide by cop had been his plan. But Jeremey hadn’t counted on little LeRoy and his big history book.
His older brothers had distinguished themselves as two of the finest athletes to come out of Nacogdoches. LeRoy’s heroic act had set similar expectations for himself. Yet in the fifth grade, when the gunman’s attention landed on little Liza and the bunny, LeRoy saw his opportunity to act. Jeremey had shot only one kid, so there would be no talk about mass shootings. (“Thank God,” people were murmuring all over the town. Thank God, it had only been one, that it hadn’t been, you know, a mass shooting.”)
After Liza fell to the floor, LeRoy jumped up and threw his heavy history book at the back of Jeremey’s head. The shooter passed out and was secured in cuffs by the school’s security guard, Chet.
Liza’s last action after being shot was to save Janelle’s rabbit. Sort of. She feared the gunman would shoot the rabbit. As her lungs began filling with blood, she crawled forward, shielding the bunny with her body. She covered the rabbit’s shivering body with her own. Liza’s dried blood looked purple on Trixie’s white fur.
Unfortunately, she collapsed onto the frail thing, cracking its ribs and killing it. But at least she died thinking she’d saved the rabbit from the gunman in the black hoodie.
Nine years later, black-out drunk at a frat party, it would occur to LeRoy that Liza had been the real hero that day.