On a cool breezy autumn night from the house down on the pristine white paved private drive came droves of teenage guests to a Saturday night celebration of the recent Homecoming victory of the Darbyville High School “Fighting Irish” football team. Thatcher Lynch, sixteen-year-old son of Darbyville’s elite, Richard and Heather Lynch greeted his long-line of guests with all the charm of a Jay Gatsby.

Four black members of the Darbyville football team approached the open ornate wooden door, carved in the style of old Medieval, straight from the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. Thatcher’s engaging lavender-gray eyes lit up when he recognized Roscoe Franklin in the center of the large bulky defensive players. He thought, this is the quarterback star who will restore my popularity.

“Welcome Roscoe and company, come in and enjoy my humble digs!” Thatcher shouted, beaming with excitement.

The handsome mocha-shaded senior walked around and stared at the spacious foyer styled to resemble one of the castles from the United Kingdom. He looked at the host after admiring the dark shiny black walnut flooring.

“Lynch, you’ve done lost your ever-loving mind. You are throwing a party to a bunch of reckless teenagers!” He turned to his teammates. “My dark lords of the game, you will act as bouncers to throw the first idiot who trashes this palace.”

Thatcher knew there was an added factor to getting Roscoe and his friends to attend one of his parties. “Gentlemen, we have two different themes of activities going on here tonight. The recreation area past my mother’s kitchen is serving up hip-hop sounds. On the lower level of the house is the Jazz Sound room, along with a stunning view of our private illuminated lake.”

Roscoe’s large friends passed the crowded strobe-lit room with Kanye West rapping his “Touch the Sky.” They raised their dark, thick eyebrows at Roscoe. He translated their unspoken message. “Yeah, probably a good idea. If any nasty stuff goes on, it will happen in there. Go on in, but do your best to watch out for trash-makers!”

Roscoe asked Thatcher. “Hey, do you have any Coltrane?”

“Yes, by all means. Follow me to the lower level.” Thatcher answered.

The large room was equipped with two pool tables in the center, and comfortable seating surrounding the perimeter of the room. The atmosphere was much more subdued with those who were seated giving Roscoe a friendly greeting as he passed them. Lady Day had been playing from the surround-sound stereo system.

Thatcher nudged Roscoe, who was taken in by the numerous end tables giving off a nightclub feel. From 40-watt bulbs shined an orange glow underneath the delicate gold-fabric lamp shades. “Roscoe, over there, my girlfriend can whip you up any cocktail. I will change the music to Coltrane.”

In a lighted corner across from the pool tables stood a petite, waif-like figure, a dark-haired vision of loveliness behind a fully-functioning short counter bar. Roscoe was instantly attracted to her fine chiseled facial features and her alabaster soft complexion from the lighting. It was the right amount of sheen to make her skin a pearly-pink.

She smoothed part of her short silky-bob hairdo behind one of her ears. “Hi, I’m Elise Didier. You must be Roscoe Franklin.”

Roscoe moved closer to the counter. He showed a crooked grin and gave off a low-key laugh. “Guilty as charged. Thatcher told me you are the bartender for this area of the house.”

“I can make you almost anything. Try me!”

“Have you ever heard of a Toasted Almond?”

“Mmmm, let me think. See if this is right: amaretto almond liqueur, Kahlua, and two dollops of cream. My mother ordered it when we were in Oahu two summers ago.”

“That sounds perfect. Both you and Thatcher lead the life I’ve only read in books.”

“You read? I thought you spent most of your time out on the football field. Your playing is awesome.” Elise said while mixing his drink.

“Miss Midwestern Debutante, football is something I love playing at. I want to study for a degree in Business Law. And, I’ll have you know, I’ve read my share of classic novels: Jane Eyre, Hunchback Of Notre Dame. Those were dope!”

“At ease, we are not in court! I apologize for my white-bread stereotyping. Still, you’ve got great form, especially against Ben Davis at Homecoming.” She giggled through her apology. She handed him the short glass with lots of ice. “Here, give me your expert opinion.”

He took two sips. “Wow! Elise, I believe you have the makings of one fine bartender.”

Thatcher watched Roscoe and Elise from his perch up on top of the stereo cabinets. He noticed to his rising jealousy, their mutual body language and eye contact to be interpreted as I wish we could be alone without all these people.

Roscoe’s three teammates showed up at the arched opening. They whistled and waved at Roscoe, who was staring at Elise. She nudged him and whispered into his ear. He looked over and nodded his head. Roscoe placed his hand around Elise’s waist.

“Too bad: my boys need me. I will look you up at school.” To her surprise and Thatcher’s shock, Roscoe leaned in very close to kiss her right cheek.


The third level to the Lynch’s stately manor housed the bedrooms, bathrooms, the highly important patriarchal study. It was the last few days of fall break in the middle of October. Thatcher had come back from his futile attempts of finding Elise at home or at their favorite place, the Lemon Drop. He passed his father’s study on his way to his bedroom.

“Thatch, son, get in here. We need to talk!” Richard Lynch commanded from his curved desk able to see his son from the top of the winding staircase. A forty-seven year old man with middle-of-the-road looks and better-than-average fit body shape possessed a cutthroat attitude in work, and the way he instilled what was important to him towards his son.

Thatcher took a seat across from his father, who was looking at a rectangular opened official paper. His father’s gaze was glued to the paper. “Here are your last six-week grades. Two have taken a significant nose dive: calculus and economics. They should be your usual caliber of an A, but to my disappointment are Cs!”

“Dad, the teachers are ingrates and putting out brutal assignments not even a college student could keep up with!” Thatcher worked up his case, lifting up his hands.

“Your descent will not get you into Northwestern. I suggest you figure this out. From past performance, I know you have the capability!” his father said, then turned to face his son.

The strong words and his father’s seething anger caused Thatcher to lose his equilibrium and bump into a square-shaped metal object resting on a table close to his father’s tall gun cabinet.

“Sorry, Dad, this thing looks real weird.” Thatcher stared at the intricate piece of machinery maybe used for assembling large tools.

“Oh, that’s a new 3D printer my company has begun its wheels of distribution to bring to the public. Which reminds me: tomorrow, I’m leaving for Pennsylvania, a business affair. Look after your mother for me. She isn’t going this time.”

Thatcher’s curiosity was peaked to the place he let slide his father’s anger, and Elise’s repeated behavior of ignoring him. He waited until Sunday evening to venture back into his father’s study. His mother had retired to her bedroom, a safe distance away from Thatcher’s plan of action.

In concentrated diligence, he was able to hack into his father’s desktop to gain access into Macro Distribution files, which read “3D Printed Plastic Guns.” The gun called the Liberator was made from a specialized printer to bring forth plastic parts that could be put together like a 3D puzzle.

He sat there, completely intrigued. Not holding back with any kind of inner fears, this type of information was to be defined as highly dangerous. He opened another file. This file revealed a major problem with the usual lead bullets. A young machinist from Pennsylvania designed a bullet constructed in a thicker steel that houses the typical lead bullet. When fired, this shell acts as a buffer between the gunpowder of the round and the weak plastic of the 3D printed gun. Thatcher stared at the printer, then at his father’s gun cabinet. He thought, this is something I could do if the circumstance arises. I hope I don’t have to.

On Monday morning, classes had resumed at the enormous ultra-modern brick and glass Darbyville High School on South Madison Street. Fourth Period Literature class was the day Mrs. Scotti would give everyone the results of their short stories.

The thirty-eight-year-old sweet-spoken blonde passed out the graded stories. There were moans heard. An occasional low-voiced, “Yes, all right” was filtered through the twenty-nine students. Thatcher got real confused. He did not get his story back.

“Before I comment on your overall work, I want to share what works. Thatcher Lynch begins his chilling description of a drive to an abandoned asylum in northeastern Italy. ‘The long arduous drive heading to the small town of Volterra was met with silence. Only outside sounds of the birds overhead and the whistling forward grind of the endless highway were audible.’”

This tidbit of recognition felt very gratifying. He turned around, hoping to get a thumbs up from Elise. Not the case, Roscoe had moved closer to Elise. She was giving the quarterback her coquettish cooing eyes, usually bestowed to Thatcher alone.

Thatcher caught Roscoe at the end of the school day walking towards the south doors to the parking lot. “Hey dude, wait up!”

Roscoe stopped and turned around. He stood there until Thatcher caught up to him. Roscoe demonstrated a sheepish behavior. He was having difficulty looking directly into Thatcher’s eyes, and was scuffling his feet back and forth.

“Roscoe, leave your car for a bit. I want to give a joy ride in my summer present of a ’65 hardtop Mustang. It is so sweet. You’ll love the vintage burgundy.” Thatcher felt generous despite the outward display of affection in their literature class earlier.

Roscoe moved closer to Thatcher, and this time he looked at him head-on. “I need to be real here. Elise and I are dating. I feel bad ‘cause she was with you first.” He put his hand on Thatcher’s shoulder. “I know this stings. You’re dope, young man, real dope! You’ll get a replacement, like real quick. Gotta run, work awaits.”

Thatcher felt like he had been slapped in the face several times. He watched Roscoe get into his funky Chevrolet Impala. His breathing accelerated, and he felt like throwing up what he had eaten for lunch. He ran to the nearest drinking fountain. Taking down as much of the cold water as possible, he shook his head knowing his instincts at his party after the homecoming game were correct.

During dinner, his mother had lapsed into a haze of inebriation. He finished his dinner and kissed her lovingly on her head. He decided to try out his father’s files for the new gun assembly.

From his swift mental assessment of how to maneuver the printer, he put together a royal blue plastic gun in three hours. Over the weekend he attempted to search for the specific round of bullets. His search proved to be of no avail. He made several attempts to get up enough courage to have a civil conversation at Elise’s house in the Sherwood Forest addition off of Historical 8th Street in downtown Darbyville. He parked at the parking spot down the hill at the property, unable to get out of the car. His vulnerability was killing him inside. He wished so much to be master of his domain once again. He questioned over and over in his head: how did I lose the status of the school golden boy with the privilege and the affections of the prettiest girl in school?

One Saturday evening, after his father had gotten back from his business in Pennsylvania, he wasn’t sleepy. He ventured downstairs. Throwing down the remainder of the cranberry juice bottle in front of an open refrigerator, he heard the television blasting in the recreation room. His mother was laid out on the purple sectional across from the large Plasma flat screen.

He shook her so she could stumble on up to her bedroom close to his father’s study. She did not respond. He looked down at the coffee table and saw an empty bottle of Sapphire Gin and an over-turned empty prescription bottle of Restoril: sleeping pills. He put two fingers on her neck trying to feel a pulse. It was very weak.

He ran upstairs, yelling for his father. Richard Lynch popped his head out of his study. “Dad, Mom’s taken Restoril with a bottle of gin. I shook her, no response.” Thatcher said, in between hysterical breaths.

His father made a gesture with his right hand, one he used to summon a waiter. “I’ll meet you downstairs. Call 911!”

He ran back into the study. Thatcher stayed at the open door, peaking in to see what his father was doing. His father was scrambling around the top of his desk. He lifted up several rounds of bullets. Thatcher went back downstairs to call 911 from the kitchen phone. In eight minutes, an ambulance from the 53rd Street fire station came through the open gate to the front entrance of the house.

Three paramedics placed Mrs. Lynch onto a gurney and gracefully got her into the ambulance. Richard turned to his son. “Thatch, I will call you from St. Vincent’s when I know something. She’s done this before, so be prepared to fend for yourself for a couple of days.”

Before attempting to get some sleep, Thatcher went into his father’s study. The lights were still left on. To his wide-opened eyes, the lower drawer to the gun cabinet was not closed all the way. He opened the drawer to find numerous rounds of bullets labeled Penn Steel, underneath in a smaller font size, made for the 3D-printed gun.

In the morning, Thatcher began the weekend by spending his time a far cry away from the usual teenage endeavors. The sky was painted in overcast thick clouds possessed with a graduation of grays from the lightest silver to bluish-charcoal.

He drove past miles of cornfields indicative of the post-harvest stage: stalks still standing in light brown and brown-orange where the corn had been shucked. From his driveway, he went right on West 38th Street, drove for three miles then turned right on Layton Road. He pulled into a gravel uneven path a short distance from the tall rusted silo.

His grandfather Lynch died when Thatcher was eight years old. The small farm went into major neglect. Richard only used the dilapidated property to have a place away from prying residents to practice his favorite hobby: target shooting. This activity had been the only avenue where father and son could bond.

Holding in his backpack, Thatcher carefully placed the 3D Liberator, two targets front and back of a perpetrator, and two rounds of bullets. He walked around the back of the house where wild grapevines covered the front door and the small porch. He flinched when passing the back concrete steps to the back door. There was a skeleton of a large dog. An eerie element fit for the reason of his visit.

There sat a large sycamore tree, half of it showing life, the other half evidence of dead branches, with the rusted silo acting as a complimentary background. He used temporary tacks to secure the front body target. The lightweight feeling of the gun made it possible for Thatcher to shoot one-handed. He hit in dead-on precision face parts, both knees, and the top part of the shoulders. On the back body target, he aimed for the base of the brain with four shots precisely. He felt the rain closing in and shot three more times to the lower back.

The target practice proved that he possessed the precision he hoped for. On the drive home, he was calm in the thought of his desired shots hitting the body parts from a distance of fifty yards away. More damage could be done with a closer distance, precisely twenty paces in the setting of a classroom, not in an outdoor field.


By Monday morning, Thatcher had knowledge his father was bringing home his mother in the afternoon. His task must be performed today during fourth period literature class, Room 106 in B Hall.

Darbyville High School had undergone added security in the last two years from state grant money. The students were on strict orders to use three entrances: the south entrance, where the student parking was, the north entrance designated as the main entrance of the school, and the back entrance across from the football field. All other side entrances were to be used by school personnel and security officers.

Thatcher breathed a heavy sigh when he successfully passed through the south entrance metal detectors. He went over in his mind: the information on the Internet was right, these guns can go through metal detectors. His locker was located in I Hall adjacent from B Hall where his strike was to take place.

From his red and black Falls Creek jacket pocket, he placed the gun, undetected by passing fellow students, onto the top shelf. He placed a notebook over it in case one of his friends wanted to catch him for a quick word before getting off to his first period biology class.

It was going on 10:15 a.m. and Vernon Franklin, the school’s groundskeeper, was busy deep cleaning the bathrooms in the fieldhouse. On his knees scrubbing under the sinks, he thought about how much of a shame it was football season was coming to a close. He shook his head and said to himself, “My shining Roscoe sure made all the right moves on the field. He’s making his mother and me proud with everything he sets his mind to do.”

He stood up and threw his gloves in the trash bin outside of the girls’ restroom. He heard his wife’s words rolling around in his head: make sure Roscoe gets his weekly lunch money. Vernon, you know good and well what he makes at Pizza Hut is for college.

Vernon made his way through the metal detectors from the back entrance. He waved at the officer who handed him back his car keys and the large silver ring of keys he used for his numerous jobs on and off the school grounds.

The bell rang for the beginning of fourth period. Thatcher had enough time to slip the gun into his navy blue zipper binder amongst a couple of notebooks. When he arrived in class, all the students were seated at their desks. He stood at the front of the class, holding his binder up.

“Well, Thatcher, you’re late! Take your seat, and I can begin.” Mrs. Scotti told him from her stand at the whiteboards to the left of him.

Thatcher stood there, his eyes looking as if he was in a trance. His body stiff, almost transfixed, unable to move. He stared at Elise: she was seated last row in the center of the others. “What are you doing? Thatcher, please take your seat!” Mrs. Scottie shouted, no longer patient with him.

With a swift motion into his binder, he pulled out his gun. The binder fell to the carpet as he shot Elise twice in her face: one bullet into her right cheek, and the other under her left eye. She relaxed her body, almost falling out of her desk close to Roscoe. Her eyes were filled with tears and wide-eyed horror.

Roscoe got up and turned around to catch her. Two more shots rang out. They found their target in the back of Roscoe’s neck, at the base of the brain. These wounds caused him to fall onto the carpet, no matter how hard he tried to reach Elise. In spite of being in so much pain and acute shock, Elise hovered over Roscoe. The other students reacted in different ways: some raced out of the classroom, screaming down the hall. The remainder sat frozen in their desks, crying and hysterical in shouts of “Please, God, help us!”

Mrs. Scotti ran over to where Elise and Roscoe were. She looked straight into Thatcher’s tortured wide eyes. To her horror, his eyes looked dead like dolls’ eyes, no color. She watched as Thatcher dropped the gun. He looked around the room. “I have no issue with any of you.”

He ran out of the classroom, looking to his left, then to his right. He wasn’t sure to exit out of the side entrance or run down the hall. With no gun, he might be able to make it to the south entrance.

Vernon had heard the first two shots as he was coming close to the sign for B Hall. His first thought was to get to Roscoe. He ran into a custodial closet to retrieve something of a weapon if he needed it. He unhooked a wooden pole from a 24-inch dust mop. He came close to Thatcher, who was running down B Hall.

When Thatcher looked into Vernon’s wild eyes full of terror, he crumbled to the tile floor. His cool demeanor up until this point of facing the father of one of his victims vanished. He was left with the knowledge of how serious his savage-minded process and actions had become.

“Please, Mr. Franklin, forgive me. I felt I had to do this!” Thatcher shouted as two policemen came from behind to restrain him.

Vernon dropped the pole. He ran over to where his son was laid out on the carpet, blood oozing out, saturating the short-threaded dense carpet. Mrs. Scotti moved over to tend to Elise, still breathing and moaning profusely.

Blood and all, Vernon scooped up his lifeless son into his large muscular arms. The students still in the classroom stopped their cries and in respect for Roscoe’s father bowed their heads. Vernon rocked back and forth wailing. “My shining boy, My Lord, my shining boy!” He could not believe his wonderful shining example of promise was lying here in his arms, bleeding his life’s essence away. He went over and over in his mind. Why would a boy with such wealth and privilege want to kill my son?