march madness

March 18, 2010

Yesterday seemed like any other day, save for it being St. Patrick’s Day, which people in this country seem to either love or hate. (I’m one-eighth Irish by paternal lineage, so I feel a tinge of pride in getting shit-faced drunk and singing songs by myself. Others may not be so enthusiastic.)

Something happened yesterday, however, that is so bizarre I haven’t even been able to accept it yet. It seems like a hoax to me, somehow. But the news organizations agree, two 20-year-olds from Brentwood, Tennessee robbed a bank in Gallatin and ran from the police, in addition to firing shots at them. The young man who owned the getaway car was Jonathan Ryan Skinner, a meteorology student here at Western Kentucky. I had two classes with him this semester, and two last semester. He gave me a ride to Tennessee one Friday night in early February, so I could pick up my old car to sell. I have ridden in the very Toyota they used as their getaway vehicle.

Ryan wasn’t the one who dressed up like a leprechaun and robbed the First State Bank (which happens to be in a neighborhood where I worked as a surveyor a few summers ago)—that was David Cotton, who also went to Brentwood High. It was Ryan’s car they used; I recognize it in the photos. They drove into a field outside Gallatin and fled on foot. Police say Cotton committed suicide—then Skinner picked up the gun, and pointed it toward the officers—so he was shot, and killed.

This is too much. We were just starting to be friends. I could tell he was different, that he had all kinds of ideas in his head that he wasn’t sure what to do with. I sat next to him Tuesday in the Met Lab, and he asked me if it was too late to drop a class. Yesterday we had exams in both our classes, Dynamic and Synoptic, and he was absent, so I figured he had gone ahead and dropped those courses. I didn’t find out until today that he was already dead.

So, Ryan Skinner, whom I barely knew, rest in peace. I can’t fathom what drove you to take part in such a reckless scheme. I guess I don’t even understand why you were interested in the weather, like me. May you find your way back into the light.

Back into the light.


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