“Is your arm even slightly sore?” she asks, pulling up her sleeve to see if there is any redness. (There isn’t.)
Frank, flopping into the chair and clicking on the TV with one (well-practiced) motion, turns her way. “Ummm? Sore? Oh, the shot. No. Not a bit. But they say some folks really feel the second one. I guess it packs a bigger wallop than the first. Maybe you’re just taking the toll for the both of us...” He smiles and winks, then spins back to the TV.
“Oh, sure...” But she pauses mid-sentence, placing a hand to her chin. “You know, I think you’re right. At least about the first part. Amber next door had some chills, and even Amanda complained about something.”
“Fatigue,” Frank reminds her.
Betty moves closer to Frank, looking over his shoulder as he turns up the volume. On the screen, a woman reporter, the mic clenched tightly in her hand, stands silently in front of a police barricade. She takes a long sigh, then continues her report.
“At this point we only know that there have been multiple casualties, including at least one officer, as a result of the shooting. The suspect, a former employee, is considered armed and dangerous, and, we’re told, is still at large. The police have cordoned off a four-block area around the warehouse, and you can probably hear the helicopter circling overhead—“
Frank shakes his head and clicks the remote, switching to another channel.
“Gunfire broke out just outside of this grocery store this morning, leaving two dead and another in critical condition, in what the police are describing as a road rage incident—“
CLICK. Frank takes in a long gulp of air as he changes the channel again. “Really?”
“In national news, police are still searching for a motive in yesterday’s mass shooting at the Calvary Chapel in downtown—“
CLICK. The screen goes black. Frank starts to stand, but Betty reaches from behind and sets her gentle hands on his now tense shoulders.
“Whatever is going on?” she asks.
“Well, I guess the virus is on the wane. ‘Cause it sure looks like things are starting to get back to the old normal. Everyone’s shooting everyone again.”
His words send Betty’s gaze to the fireplace, where a framed picture of their three grandsons sits proudly on the mantel. “Oh, Frankie. They go back to school next week. This can’t be ‘normal’. We can’t let it be.” Her voice trembles and a single tear slides down her cheek. In her anxiousness, she begins to rub her arm again.
Frank stands and pulls her into a hug. “Maybe the next vaccine we need is one that tempers all this hate and anger. Maybe that will help prevent these mass shootings...”