The Screamer

I was covering an Extinction Rebellion march and rally a couple months ago when, as folks were organizing themselves, unrolling the banners, figuring out logistics and doing some last minute speechifying this one cat, assumed to be homeless by the way he dressed I suppose, came up into the circle and right in the middle of the organizing and instruction-giving he starts screaming AAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH and he keeps going. A couple of the protesters got up beside the guy and  asked in gentle tones if he could cool it and not disrupt the speakers and stuff. Well, he went on for a while, screaming AARRRRRRGGGHHH as loud he could.  People tried to ignore him maybe feeling a little embarrassed as people do when someone lets out with some passionate, primal impulse, in this case something like a wounded animal screaming out its last act of total defiance.
AARRRRGGGHHHH he said until his voice started cracking a bit and a couple cops moved in to insure the peace.

Well, we rallied ourselves up about fifty strong and went and marched on down the street chanting our chants and waving our flags and banners, leaving The Screamer behind. It was a successful march in that we accomplished our goal of marching from point A to point B,  being a public nuisance and creating a general disruption as a way of drawing attention to the climate crisis. No one got arrested although I’m certain we were in violation of some law or another. On top of all the noise and marching, we all had the pleasure of each other’s company for a couple hours and we heard some great speeches, too!

A couple days later some of the organizers got together to talk about the march, whether it was effective and so on. Early into the meeting “The Screamer” as he was now called, came up in the conversation. Folks were wondering if we had handled the situation appropriately, were we kind enough, firm enough, those kinds of questions. I too had been thinking about “The Screamer” and the effect he had on us all that day when someone from the group said, “I think The Screamer had the perfect response for this place and time.” And I thought yeah, maybe he did.

It seems like a long time back but really it all happened just a few months ago, back in the “good old days,” back when we could march together, make speeches to agreeable crowds and do a little screaming.

I shot a wild rabbit once, I’m not proud at all about it, in fact it was a terrible thing to do. I was out trying to spend some time with my new step-brother-in-law who was quite a bit older than me. He had just gotten out of the Army and although he was really kind of inept and awkward he was all into trying to play the big brother to me. I was really good with guns having been around them since I could remember, but I had no interest in killing anything, I’d already had that experience.

We were walking back towards home after plunking around out in the desert for a couple hours with our 22’s when he saw a rabbit and he got all excited about how I should shoot the thing. So, like a dumb-ass, I do. I whip around and shoot him right in the gut.

Have you ever heard a rabbit scream? I never had, not until then. I didn’t even know that rabbits could scream. It was horrible, terrifying. As the high-pitched, piercing scream went through my ears I understood that rabbit and what I had done in a way that still stands out in my mind. It was all at the same time horrible, pitiful and defiant, the sound of a living things last primal urge, AAARRRRGGGGHHHH!

Every day I wake-up to some new atrocity splashed across the news feed of my PC. All day everyday it just keeps coming. If there’s anything, any particular thing or group of things that support life, any kind of life, you can bet it’s under attack right now by some corporation or by whomever it is that’s got their foot on this global-one-world-death-dance. If there is any terrible and misguided thing that a government can do, you can bet it’s getting done right now. Everyday it’s an endless list of the crimes being committed by these killers along with long descriptions of the crimes, character examinations of the guilty, pages of out-rage and contempt. There are cutting remarks, crude jokes and piercing insults laid out against the obvious targets and a long list of might-have-beens, could-have-beens and would-have-beens, if only, etc.

Yes, I indulge myself in all the hand-wringing, hair-pulling and stump-kicking too. Sometimes I just stare-off with nothing but a faraway look in my eye, or I get into an angry rant or wonder why I don’t just sit down and cry just go ahead and break-down altogether. I’m not alone when I wonder or when I get agitated and anxious about what to do, what response I should have to this ever worsening situation from which there appears to be no good way out and then I remember that primal urge inside of me, inside The Screamer, inside the rabbit and I know that to just scream AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH, to go ahead and scream it out-loud from a place way deep inside, that I believe is a perfect response to this time.