What to Do with My Body in the Event I Die in a Mass Shooting

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Take that body and don’t even clean the blood off the skin, don’t wash it out of my clothes. Don’t change my facial expression or adjust my posture. Don’t do anything to hide the reality of my death. Let people see me exactly how I was in my last moments, my face twisted in horror and confusion, my body curled unnaturally as if hunching my back could ever protect me from the bullets (nothing can protect you). I want them to see my mouth agape, my eyes feeling betrayed but also weary, because in those final moments, I know I would be shocked but not surprised (you can’t be surprised by something that happens every day; nobody is surprised to see the sun rise in the morning).

After I’ve been executed for the crime of being in a public place, my final wish is for the people who enabled this crime, again and again and again, to have to face my anger and explain themselves. Lift my body off the ground and haul it from the site of my death straight to the Capitol. Parade me through the halls and bang on doors and demand that they look at what the bullets did to me. Tell them where my blood spilled, and make them stick their fingers into the wounds like Thomas into Jesus’s side. Don’t waste time trying to convince them that I was better or more worthy of dignity than any other person, because then you’re wasting your breath on a game you cannot win (all they want is win, there’s going to be so much winning). Don’t allow them to rank the victims in terms of their value and don’t allow them to engage in any conversation aside from this: Right here is a body that you killed, and I want to know what you’re going to do about it. They’ll arrest you and they’ll vilify you and they’ll threaten you with their guns. Keep going back, keep showing them my body.

Every day, pile more bodies in the halls so they can’t go anywhere without stepping over the victims. Force them to look down at a dead body and lift their leg over it as if stepping over a puddle. Don’t join them in their prayers (the god they pray to doesn’t exist). When they step over my dead body, I want them to look down into my vacant eyes and reckon with the way it ended. I want them to be transported into my mind and feel what I felt after being shot. In those final moments—as I bled out onto the tile floor of the mall, or onto the grass outside a summer concert, or in the dirt of the center city beer garden, or in the middle of my fucking classroom—I would be thinking of all the ways my own country has abandoned its people (for profit, for spite, for no reason at all). I would be lying there, remembering all the murders I’ve cheered for in movies, all the thousands of dead bodies I’ve digested and forgotten, and I would look up at the ceiling searching for meaning and finding nothing at all. I would be thinking: is this really all there is?

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Featured image via Creative Commons.


Tom McAllister is the author of the novels The Young Widower's Handbook and How to Be Safe (forthcoming in April 2018). He is the Nonfiction Editor at Barrelhouse, and co-host of the Book Fight podcast. More from this author →