SOMEWHERE, RIGHT NOW, A MIND CHURNS

Creepy is a young man. He keeps to himself.

He wears odd clothes. He favors black. His hair is sometimes funny. His skin is not so good. At school they roll their eyes, or shake their heads, as he passes by.

Creepy is not popular, nor is he very well-liked. Some think he’s shy. Some think he’s weird. He doesn’t talk much. His voice is kind of low. As a kid, he sat alone in the schoolyard. As a teen, he sat alone in the cafeteria.

Creepy is no dummy. He reads. He reads a lot. He watches, too. Movies, TV, games. He watches screens of all kinds, flipping through Web sites, working a joystick. Watching is a release for Creepy. Watching is not judgmental. Watching what others do. Watching what others have. Watching video warriors cut their enemies’ heads off, blood everywhere.

Sometimes when he watches, his imagination runs wild. He sees a character with a chain saw or a rifle. He sees carnage. He sees destruction. He sees how one man with the right weapon can wreak havoc, take control, own the day.

Creepy gets ideas.

The power of nothing

Creepy is a young man. He doesn’t have many friends. Girls find him odd. He finds them scary.

He would like, deep down, to have a girlfriend. To party. To laugh. He would like it, but he won’t accept it. Not today. Not anymore. Too many times, people stomped his heart. Too many times, he suffered in silence.

Too many times, he looked in the mirror and saw the wrong man looking back. He is not handsome or cool. He does not measure up. He has blamed himself, but that led to nothing. Now he blames others. That feels better. He blames the people who have more, who look better, who get praise. He blames them. Then he hates them. He fantasizes about a world where they are gone.

It would be nice for Creepy to have someone to talk to, all this anger, all these thoughts, but confidants are not part of his world. Talking, he has decided, is overrated. So he writes. He makes tapes. He keeps things to himself. “Nothing,” is his answer. “What’s wrong?” counselors ask him. “What’s wrong?” teachers ask him. “Nothing,” he says. They shrug and go on.

His parents? Well, you know. Maybe they’re busy. Maybe they’re gone. Maybe one died. Maybe one was indifferent. Maybe they did terrible things to Creepy when he was a child. Maybe he’s ashamed.

Maybe there is part of Creepy that wants his parents’ love desperately, above all else. But in Creepy’s mind, those days are gone. You get attention when you warrant attention. He watches his screens. He watches the news.

Creepy gets ideas.

A new American idol

Creepy sees those kids from Columbine, in their long black coats, all over TV and the Internet. Creepy sees Timothy McVeigh – who blew up a building and killed 168 people – and sees his life story broadcast like a celebrity profile.

Creepy sees Cho Seung-Hui, who massacred 32 people on a college campus – and right in the middle of his killing spree, mailed his videos and photos to NBC, like a publicist. And NBC put them on! Splashed them across the screen! In one day, an unknown, a nobody, got superstar treatment. All it took was some bullets and the right postage. One day, from nothing to something. Creepy stirs.

Creepy sees Cho’s image, his menacing pose, the weapons in his hands. Creepy knows that pose. He has struck it himself, before a mirror in his bathroom. Something inside is envious. Something inside – the part that says, “Why him, not me?”- is kicking in. Cho got the last say. So what that he’s dead, that he killed himself?

Life is so overrated.

Creepy is a young man, or a kid, or a teen. Creepy lives in another state, or across town, or on your block. Creepy is out there, angry at the world, nurtured by a culture that values violence over passivity, beauty over substance, money over love, and celebrity above all else.

Creepy gets ideas.

Creepy gets a gun.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or malbom@freepress.com. He and his mother, Rhoda, will discuss and sign copies of “For One More Day” at 8 p.m. Thursday at Borders, 612 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor.

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