By R. D. Flavin


It's mid-morning and details are still sketchy... Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a twenty-six year old Cambridge man of Chechen descent and medical student, is dead. His younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a nineteen year old 2011 graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School with a $2500 scholarship from wrestling, is somewhere in the Boston area, perhaps wounded, and is considered armed and dangerous. It's being reported that the brothers have been in the U.S. for about ten years. Everything is shut down, folks are told to stay indoors, and we await resolution.

     Damn...  The 117th annual B.A.A. Boston Marathon was ended prematurely this past Monday by the detonations of two homemade bombs which killed three and injured some one hundred and seventy-something others.  As of this writing the F.B.I. is circulating images of two suspects, but no working motive for the terrorist attack has yet been advanced.  Several blocks around Copley Square are still closed to the public and regarded as a crime scene.  The names of the dead have been released and the Westboro Baptist Church has announced that the bombings were an act of God because of America's dalliance with Gay marriage and plans to picket at least one of the funerals.  Damn...

     I've recently spent a lot of time at the Copley (Central) Boston Public Library, two or three times a week for the last several months, and I felt ...somewhat inconvenienced that they were closed Sunday and Monday.  As it was Patriots' Day, Marathon Monday, and the first day of the scholastic Spring Break with college students in the streets drinking beers by 9AM, I relaxed and went about small and easy tasks unmindful of the “holiday” celebrations and traditions outside my door.  When I first heard the reports of three bombings with dead and wounded it was the numbness of 9/11 all over again.  The number of wounded seemed to increase every few minutes, the JFK Library fire was a confusing distraction (still is), and then I saw some extremely graphic photographs of the mutilated online.  Tragedy became anger and I tried to mentally process the bombings ...without sufficient facts.

     This isn't Baghdad or Tel Aviv, this is Beantown with memories of Rosie Ruiz in 1980.  The explosions went off well into the race, hours after the professionals had received their cash and laurels, and though sad and sick, it could have been much worse.  Whether the attack was from a foreign or domestic source seemed to be asked by all.  The significance of the holiday and the associated marathon might be forced and random.  Sure, the Boomtown Rats may still hate Mondays after all these years, but why that Monday?  Or any Monday for that matter?

     A lean review has Patriots' Day originally celebrated on April 19th in Massachusetts and Maine, until changed to the third Monday in April in 1969.  On August 30, 2001, Wisconsin came in from left field and voted for recognition of the holiday.  A month and a half after 9/11 Congress designated September 11th as 'Patriot Day' and a year later dubbed it Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance.  There's heaps of pettiness to be had commenting on that political distantiation.  Considering today's battles of Lexington and Concord usually involve property taxes, I'd be hard pressed to defend British honor against American pride.  And, I can't bring myself to imagine a scenario which could compel an individual or group to bring about such horror because of anything to do with the sport of long distance running.  Opportunistic?  Domestic and local?

     Copley Square is often the backdrop for both organized and impromptu (i.e. alcohol fueled) protests.  I'd noticed a few “protestors” a week before the bombings and with those recollections immediately attempted to rationally dismiss the wild possibilities.  Several days before Marathon Monday, I saw two chubby good ol' boys sitting on a step in front of the Dartmouth Street entrance to the Copley BPL holding two cardboard signs with the words “Farm” and “Free” written on them in black magic-marker.  The next day I noticed them across the street on a bench making new signs from what appeared to be orange construction paper.  I hadn't noticed them engaging any passersby in conversation, begging for money, or covertly imbibing booze, and I believe I did a Google News Search for the words “Farm” and “Free,” didn't turn up anything, and continued with my business.

     Also, in one of the “Reading Rooms” in the McKim Building of the Copley BPL, I remembered a creepy fellow seated in the same corner day after day with a crude sign advertising a web-site displayed from his jacket.  The sign had some weird and vague propaganda and a web-site URL with the words “World,” “New,” and “War” at a .org domain.  I usually carry a small digital camera with me, believed I'd taken a picture of the .org sign, and I struggled to recall if I'd snapped a picture of the two good ol' boys.  It was time to look at the SD memory card in my camera!

Greek marchers and last year's Christmas tree.

     Well, either the pics didn't come out or I'd erased them at some point, as the only picture stored in the camera was from April 7, 2013 and of the 18th Annual Greek Independence Day Parade as it passed Copley Square.  My barber's Greek, there's men in skirts marching down Boylston Street during daylight hours, and depression set in as I realized that ...I don't take enough pictures.  Wallowing in self-incrimination for a short time (okay, a few hours), it occurred to me that I also have a camera on my cell-phone, though I don't use it that much.  I got even more depressed when I saw that the only picture I had on my cell-phone was taken the first week of December 2012 and showed a decorated Christmas tree between Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall.  I hadn't realized just how much I was actively avoiding photography...

     Tuesday, I discussed on several occasions my discomfort at sharing my uber-meager accounts with the authorities, yet ended each conversation with an admission that I should clear my conscience and “drop a dime” on the Copley “protestors.”  Wednesday morning I sent an e-mail to the Boston office of the F.B.I. Wednesday afternoon the media began to report various claims about surveillance videos from Lord & Taylors which showed a “person of interest” or “suspect” in the second bombing.  And, there was lots of stuff about the pressure cooker bombs.  More times than not the media was wrong a little or a lot (yeah, take a bow, New York Post).  Thursday was not much better...  Unarmed National Guard troops were still stationed at most subway stops, armed SWAT teams at the hospitals, traffic remained snarled with rubbernecking gawkers around the Copley Square crime scene...  But, on Thursday night the F.B.I. released images of two young men and asked the public for any pertinent information...  Okay, it's not a dénouement, but the BBW is clearing her throat.

F.B.I posters.

     It's mid-morning and details are still sketchy...  Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a twenty-six year old Cambridge man of possible Chechen descent, is dead.  His younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a nineteen year old 2011 graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School with a $2500 scholarship from wrestling, is somewhere in the Boston area, perhaps wounded, and is considered armed and dangerous.  Everything is shut down, folks are told to stay indoors, and we await resolution.

     There's been a lot of focus on Boston this week, though of course life and death have continued beyond its borders.  The Mississippi whack who mailed off two ricin-laced letters to U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Pres. Obama, Paul Kevin Curtis, has apparently been paranoid of the government for some years.  That resolution occurred fairly quickly can't brighten our collective mood, as a horrific accidental explosion on Wednesday in Waco, Texas took a dozen lives, many of them first responders to an initial fire.  It's been a difficult week for many Americans and it's fair timing that Iran and North Korea hasn't done or said anything particularly stupid of late.

     It's noon and not much has changed...  Speculation is splattered about trying to force a radical Islamic motive, but nothing seems to be sticking.  It's said the brothers are ethnic Chechens and spent several months in Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan before coming to the States in 2002 and 2003.  Chechens are predominantly Sunni Muslims who really despise women's rights (though Sufism is maintained in Chechnya) and it's been mentioned that the dead brother enjoyed Russian rap and Shia Islamic poetry.  There's still no dependable report that other than standard guns (pistols and perhaps a rifle) and their homemade (black-powder?) pressure-cooker bombs, any other weapons or explosives have been used.  However, there's been a few brief mentions of a possible third “suspect,” but not from any dependable news sources.  As Cambridge has been at the forefront of religious tolerance with closing its public schools since 2011 for the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, together with a thriving Muslim community centered around the Islamic Society of Boston mosque on Prospect Street, the decidedly liberal climate of Cambridge would seemed to have failed these young men.  I wouldn't rule out self-hatred manifested as suicide-by-cop with collateral damage.

     As evening falls we've had the “Shelter-in-Place” order lifted, the MBTA restarted, and bars, liquor stores and pizza places have opened.  Then, we had shots fired again in Watertown and a presumption that “Subject #2” is wounded and hiding in a backyard tarped boat.  It's getting dark and things are moving very slow. Tamerlan and Other Poor Decisions by A Cantabrigian would be a short and sad read.  There's a lot unsaid, omitted, and unknown.  One big ellipsis or a lot of little ones...

     And he's in custody at 8:44 PM EST...


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