I’m a fiction writer, and I can usually be found lurking in the realm that Stephen King rules. My forays into nonfiction are limited to Calaveras Enterprise editorials and a few blog posts.

Fiction is basically storytellers telling you lies, stories. Columns are weird because you are expressing your ideologies and you can’t hide behind the “It’s only a story” caveat. Today though, truth and fiction are banging together like tectonic plates and reality is, as they say, stranger than fiction.

The Feb. 19 Sacramento Bee Local section had the following banner, “Cameron Park benefit raffles AR-15 despite shooting in Florida.” Today I read that a third-grade class in Missouri is selling raffle tickets for an AR-15. President Donald Trump was conveniently in Florida for golf, but only had the time to pose with first responders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. He was immortalized wearing a huge smile and two thumbs up. His staff warned him about the optics of golfing so soon after a school slaughter, but he played a round on President’s Day anyway while 17 student funerals were conducted 50 miles south of where he teed up.

Like I said, stranger than fiction.

We do have our own “wow” moments in Calaveras County. The Board of Supervisors is still trying to ban cannabis, while the rest of the state has moved into legalization mode. Aside from the fact that pot shouldn’t even be on the Schedule 1 federal drug list along with heroin and methamphetamine, even a cursory look at our history shows that bans only enrich a certain group of citizens once the substance goes underground. Is the board abetting organized crime?

I don’t know if this is a universal phenomenon, but the older I get, the more sentimental (OK, sappy is a good word, too) I get about kids and pets. It takes almost two decades and a lot of help for the human baby to reach true maturity. Some never hit that mark. And the sad opposite of this long social incubation is the fact that you could have two pets live full and enjoyable lives in that same timespan. Unfortunately, many young humans and animals do not experience either.

Both are, of course, extremely vulnerable. I would also venture to say that both also represent our future. Societies are judged by how they treat both groups. To see children abused or animals mistreated is one of the most gut-wrenching sights I can imagine. Google it or check out Facebook if your stomach can handle the vivid examples of the abuse. And it happens every hour.

Recently, two teenage girls were stopped at an airport when airline security thought they were acting out of character. After a brief discussion, the authorities found that the two girls were off to New York to star in a modelling and video junket. They had been lured into this by an online predator and never noticed that this person had only sent them one-way tickets to the Big Apple. The girls, of course, would have never been seen again by anyone other than the human trafficker and the customers of his or her prostitution scheme.

Since schools seem to be the preferred targets for deranged killers with automatic weapons, it is sad to see that the students themselves have had to take on the additional burden of demanding that the so-called adults of our various governments do something. Women have had to wage a similar battle against domestic abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace. For the most part, the villains in both gun massacres and abuse to women are white males. Yes, anyone who vents his or her anger or off-kilter thinking by shooting up a school is, by definition, crazy, but some are just angry and their rage creates momentary lapses in their judgement. It is a steep price to pay for temporary insanity. What is even more insane is making their weapons of choice, semiautomatic rifles meant for police and military hands only, so easy to get.

What I am trying to say is that parents and society are not off the clock when they drop their kids off at the grade school curb. Parenting is a life sentence, and there can be no parole. It is a sacred duty we are given, an incredibly stressful job to keep our youngsters safe so they can grow into adults who will do the same with their kids.

We have some incredible people around us rescuing animals and finding them proper, loving homes. God bless them all. Can’t we be just as responsible and start doing the same with our future, our children? Can’t we push the boogeyman back into his dark closet? Can’t we calm the nightmares that are spawned?

Jerry Tuck is a retired San Andreas resident and an independent author. Contact him at olwhofan@aol.com or tucknrole.com.

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