In the very early days of Peaceful Rampage, I wrote three posts about what Mark, the protagonist in my book “He Was Weird” would have thought about the shooters in the books, “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” “Nineteen Minutes” and “Endgame.” When writing “He Was Weird,” I read all three of those books out of fear of being accused of plagiarism. However, in two of the three, Kevin being the odd one out, I developed an empathy for the main characters in those books. After all, they, like Mark, were bullied to the point of snapping and shooting up their school. As a result, I looked at all three shooters from Mark’s perspective. How he would have sympathized with them, been impressed by them and where he would have been critical of them. I’m not one to toot my own horn but Jodi Picoult and Nancy Garden, the authors of “Nineteen Minutes” and “Endgame” both read Mark’s analysis of their shooters and seemed rather impressed. Jodi said my comments were very thorough and very fair.
There was a fourth book in the collection I didn’t write about but I read and developed the same empathy for the shooter in the story. That was “Rupture” by Simon Lelic. While I have mentioned this book in other topics related with those three other books, I never examined his protagonist, Sam Sajikowski, in regards to what Mark would have thought of him. I think the reasons why were one- Sam was a teacher who was bullied by both pupils and fellow teachers and I thought he wouldn’t relate. I have since dismissed that thought. Second, the story was set in Great Britain while mine and the others were all set in the US. I realize now that’s an absurd reason. So, with nothing more holding me back, here’s what Mark would have thought of Sam.
The idea of teachers being bullied by pupils would have been a foreign concept for Mark. When I went through school teachers still commanded an aura of respect and with Mark’s mindset, they still would have. Besides, in the town I modeled the story on, any abuse or aggression towards a teacher would have been met with suspension of the pupil. Therefore, learning that Sam was getting picked on by pupils would have sent his Aspergers mind into full spin. However, he would not have been surprised at teachers bullying him. After all, the teachers at his school exacerbated a lot of the bullying against him and it once Mark’s mind came to terms with the pupil bullying, he might have drawn a link between that and the bullying Sam got from other teachers. Sam would have eventually had Mark’s sympathy.
Like he was with all three shooters in the other books, Mark would have been critical of Sam’s execution of the big day. At thirteen, Mark wouldn’t have understood that in Britain, guns are much harder to get than America and therefore, would have scoffed at the old fashioned revolver Sam used in his shooting. Six bullets is not enough fire power to achieve the aim Sam was looking for in Mark’s view. Mark would have thought Sam should have used a better weapon. On the other hand, Mark would have been very impressed with Sam’s marksmanship. Sam killed three pupils and a teacher with just five bullets and even with Mark’s higher body count due to superior firepower, that score would have been amazing. Then again, Mark would have pointed out that only one of the dead was any of his intended victims so again, the need for better weaponry was that much more important.
Unlike the other three books, Mark and Sam have one thing in common. At the end of their shooting sprees, both were able to go out on their own terms, thus frustrating any opportunity from victims or others to vent their anger at the shooters. Mark would have liked the fact that Sam saved the last bullet for himself.