Murder entertains us,
By Richard Messer

arrives in the kitchen in time for breakfast, lounges in the family room,
stays for lunch, and dinner, invites us into the bedroom. Murder sells
soap better than love.
Excavating for a building site near a former concentration camp re-
cently, German workers came upon a mass grave, ten thousand MIAs,
Russians it is presumed. Of these ten thousand murdered human beings,
some might have been distant relatives of hers, since her family on both
sides immigrated from the lower Volga area at the turn of the century.
So might some of the executioners, since part of the family had stayed
in Germany.
But let us be generous and say that the millions of people killed in the
wars of this century do not count as murders. War is hell. We know
that. In 1946, the year after the war, 3,000 people were officially mur-
dered in the U. S. Last year there were 20,000 murders, and over 600
of that number occurred in Detroit, sixty miles from where I sit. There
were 200 rape murders. Approximately one half of all these crimes are
as yet unsolved. And in Detroit last year, there were also 100 suicides,
self murders, solved murders, or so one would think.
As of the very latest calculation, someone in the United States is shot
every twenty minutes. Relatives of murder victims are foming self-
help groups in order to cope, to heal, to understand.
But what is there to understand? Today I read in the paper that the local
University's Continuing Education Department is holding a "murder
mystery weekend" at a historic downtown hotel. What is a murder
mystery weekend? " actively participate in the
staged crime as both witness and sleuth." I drive along these well kept
residential streets slowly, thinking of all the murders I've read about,
listened to, watched.
Murders all around me for as long as I can remember and mountains of
statistical evidence to support the overwhelming likelihood that during
everyone's life someone they know will be murdered.
I do not know if it is possible to understand that the soul's destiny may
have as much to do with murder as with love.
But is it any surprise, considering our preoccupation with murder, that
someone I knew and loved was murdered?
Yes, it is, and no it isn't.

Previously published by Bottom Dog Press in Messer's book Murder In The Family


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