Commonplace Place: JG Ballard on Mass Shootings

Compelling passages, notable quotables, bon mots, disjecta, ephemera, and miscellany.

running-wild

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Then, under a pile of diving caps in the bottom drawer, I found a stack of glossy magazines, well-thumbed copies of Playboy and Penthouse. I showed the top copy to Payne.

Playboy, Sergeant – the first crack in the façade.”

Payne barely glanced at the magazine. “I wouldn’t say so, sir.”

“Of course not. What could be more normal for a seventeen-year-old prone to bed-wetting? The Maxteds were enlightened people.”

Payne nodded sagely. “I’m sure Jeremy knew that too, Doctor. The copies of Playboy made good camouflage. If want the real porn have a look underneath.”

I pushed back the diving caps and lifted out the top three magazines. Below them were a dozen copies of various gun and rifle publications. Guns and Ammo, Commando Small Arms, The Rifleman, and Combat Weapons of the Waffen SS. I flipped through them, noticing that the pages were carefully marked, appreciative comments written in the margins. Mail-order coupons were missing from many of the pages.

“The real porn? I agree.” I pushed the magazines back into the drawer, covering them with the diving caps as if to preserve Jeremy Maxted’s secret. “He probably belonged to the local rifle club. But I don’t suppose his parents would have approved.”

“You can bet your pension they wouldn’t.” Sergeant Payne was smirking to himself. “Handling a firearm? To the people of Pangbourne Village that would be worse than molesting a child.”

Running Wild, by J.G. Ballard
The Noonday Press (FSG), 1988

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