This is part 2 of my analysis of Bullet Time. If you don’t know what that is, read “Bullet Time: what is it?”
This is going to be a detailed analysis of every scene in the film, specifically as it relates to the events of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
If you’d like to watch the film yourself, you can find it here (click “cc” to toggle the English subtitles.) Just be warned: it’s very much a foreign student film with zero budget.
The film opens with a brief shot of a makeshift memorial on the campus of a University. Close-ups on the dedications left behind show that this is actually the first anniversary after the shootings, with the flowers marking the day exactly one year later.
The film then proceeds with a series of documentary-style interviews, with students sharing what they remember about the event that took place one year ago. They speak directly into the camera. It’s reminiscent of the TruTV style of crime documentaries: students recall what class they were in, the initial confusion, and what they knew about the two students before they had committed their notorious crime.
Most express bewilderment as to why two of their fellow students, people they thought they knew, would do such a thing. One mentions that “police let me see their recordings,” setting up the premise for the rest of the film, and then reflects on how they still don’t understand the shooting.
I can’t comprehend how students can shoot at other students. The police let me see their recordings. But… truth be told I still don’t understand why they did it, because well, because… I understand that they weren’t happy with their lives, but in all honesty – who among us is completely happy with it? Everyone has some problems. And truth be told I can’t understand why it was them of all people, what… what in their lives…was so different. I don’t know. I think that it could’ve been… anybody else.
Snippets of memories form a narrative of the shooting: two male students – Micha Duczyk and Jan Kossakowski – had placed bombs in auditorium, and then unleashed a barrage of gunfire on the campus of the university.
As they moved from one classroom or auditorium to the next, they encountered each of the students that recall the events that day.
One remembers a doorknob jiggling, sure that he was going to die when the shooter blew off the doorknob. But he didn’t. He just moved on.
Another remembers hearing gunfire and staying in a pose in yoga class, trying to not to draw attention to herself. Then, one of the shooters entered the classroom and opened fire, and she felt a round sever her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed.
Another remembers her partner who left that morning for class, and never came home.
These recollections then shift from the shooting itself, to the broader context of the event at the university, and the conflicting values it brings to light.
The same student who pointed out how unremarkable the shooters were in their motives then observes the conflict between freedom of speech, and the risks that would be involved in releasing “the tapes” (which, again, we are about to watch).
Despite everything, I think these recordings should not be made available. That is… I understand that people want to know the truth. But if it’s to inspire others to do something like this, then…I don’t know. Safety matters more, I think […] On one hand, like everyone else probably, I’m concerned that putting such recordings on the Internet will bring about people, who will treat something like this as…as fun. As an encouragement to take a rifle. Go and murder people.
This same student, who seems to have a particularly nuanced grasp on the significance of the event, wraps up this prelude by pondering how “when one begins going to university, one thinks that he’s got his whole life in front of him. That he’s got all the time in the world. And that [the shooting] was probably when I understood that… that it’s not like that.”
With those words, We briefly cut back to the memorial outside, and finally to our title card.
The film proper begins; the shooting is now almost a year away, and we are introduced to our two main characters (really, the only characters):
Jan Kossakowski and Micha Duczyk, respectively.
They announce that, although this is their “first serious recording,” they have been planning their deed for “whoa, much longer.” The killers outright explain the purpose of the tape we are watching: they realize that their shooting will be a reveal of their “true selves” to society, but they won’t have a chance to effectively explain their rationale for the massacre when they are in the course of committing it, so it will be much better to get it out of the way beforehand.
The killers predict that the tape we are watching will constitute “Various scenes from our lives, some helpful advice if you’d like to do something similar…We advise you to. Yes. Well… That’s why we’ll try to do well… So feast your eyes with the show, voyeurists.”
They then “cheers” a couple beers in a toast “to Colorado;” they don’t specify the location of Columbine, or Littleton. They didn’t need to.
(Kossakowski then chokes on his sip of Heinekin. Probably not part of the script.)
The characters/actors then exhibit the first proof that they actually speak quite passable English: Jan quotes Winston Churchill in announcing “This is not the end. This is not the beginning of the end. This is, however, the end of the beginning.”
Just before turning off the camera, Micha delivers an aphorism of his own: “It is not important how a man begins. It is important how he ends.”
The scene jumps ahead to a driving sequence; Jan is filming while Micha drives their Volvo to McDonalds. Along the way, they pontificate on the merits of Atheism vs. Monotheism while resembling the footage of the Columbine killers going on their own drive-thru venture.
We learn that today is the 4th of July, and they are going to McDonalds; for these Polish students, mimicking the Columbine killers in America, today is a winking celebration of everything American.
Waiting for their order to arrive, Micah waves a small American flag and mockingly sings a snippet of the Star Spangled Banner, before briefly swapping it for a Californian flag.
This scene, in particular, serves as a hint that the phenomenon of school shootings is seen as essentially an American product that can spread to other cultures, just like brands, or music, or films, or McDonalds. The phenomenon of cultural mimicry extends to mass violence, too.
Having been handed their bag of food, the lads pull into a parking spot and taste their big-macs. Again, the influence of American culture rears its head, and even frustrates them, as Kossakowski reviews his Big Mac in English, then curses himself in Polish: “Damn it! I need to stop speaking English!”
They laugh and joke for a while, and it’s becoming clear that Mikah (the skinny one) is the leader of the revelry; the stout Kossakowski participates, but he is following. He is not the dominant personality that Mikah is.
Likely, this is a nod to the dichotomy (or, at least, the commonly held perception) of the Columbine killers, with Eric Harris seen as the charismatic and remorseless psychopath, and Dylan Klebold the tortured depressive, unable to bring himself to commit suicide, now hitched to Harris’s wagon knowing it is headed straight to hell.
Indeed, the scene ends, and then we are in Kossakowski’s room, where he is alone speaking to the camera for the first time, and the tone shifts dramatically. He observes happy children playing outside, and explains to us his motives, knowing that his audience will be viewing the tape only after he has committed a heinous crime.
Most of you, perceiving me through what I’m doing, probably see in me a frustrated, gun-toting maniac. I wonder how many of you wise-guys thought even for a moment what is required to put someone in such a state.
Take a look… It’s such a bright, sunny day outside…Children are playing, birds are singing…
Wouldn’t it be nice to go out and enjoy it? Of course it would be. I’d also like to do that. What are you thinking – that I’ve got nothing better to do? Damn it. Like, I…
I’m just not cut out for this. I would like to live peacefully. Not worrying about it all. Not worrying how I’ll do at the Psychology department… Not worrying where I’ll get cash from… Not worrying whether I’ll find a job… Not worrying where this country is heading. Where this world is heading. Not worrying about a lot of things.
I look back at my life, I always had to worry about something, fight with something… Had to be nervous over something. I…
I’ve had enough.
You’re probably thinking that I’m some pent-up, aggressive, hormonal. But no. I’m tired of all this fighting. It’s simply too much. Way too much and way too long. No, I don’t know… I don’t know what else meaningful to say. Perhaps… Just, well… That’s all I have left to say. So…
Well, I just don’t want to… pass away quietly. And that’s probably it. I won’t.
Adam Lanza associated school environment with anxiety; the sentiment that “I always had to worry about something, fight with something, had to be nervous, I’ve had enough” was in all likelihood harmonious with his own feelings.
We can’t know exactly how much Adam Lanza identified with these statements, but we can know for certain that he watched this scene, and ultimately recommended this film.
Morons from Long Island
The next scene is one that Lanza referenced in another post; in the thread “Any of you know of any others that are not on this list?” in which another user is referring to a list of attempted school shootings, Lanza/Smiggles responds:
There have been many that aren’t on that list, although I’m not very familiar with them. [...] There were two teenagers who were arrested after one of them left their journal in a McDonald’s, as memorialized by Sabratha’s Bullet Time.
This reply was left on February 28th 2012; just a few hours before his final post, which also referenced “Bullet Time.” For whatever reason, during this last day in which we have any record of him interacting online, he was particularly focused on this film.
The scene itself shows the two future-killers reading a news story that, as Lanza noted, is about two kids who were foiled in their attempt at a school shooting after one of them left a notebook at a McDonald’s (the prior scene where these also-wannabe-shooters visit a McDonald’s, but only in drive-thru, also being a subtle clue that these two actually have their wits about them. There will not be any “leaks.”)
The guys sarcastically rip on the ill-thought-out plans of the shooters from Long Island.
Ah, here you go. Two… Two morons… In Long Island, fucking States… got the notion to do a school shooting. Yes, genius, wonderful…
And? First off – they planned the school shooting… For the 20th of April 2008. Yes. Totally on the anniversary of […] You know – Columbine. Eric Harris. Dylan Klebold. Yes.
Firstly…Who’d expect that the next shooting will be right on the anniversary, no? Great idea.
The fact that the killers wrote down their plans in a notebook, “Notebook signed. Name and surname” is particularly a subject of mockery. Then, the killers turn the tables, and argue how the planning for a school shooting should be done. First, they criticize the wannabe shooters’ choice of armaments:
You don’t do it like that. Aha! Furthermore, of course… The dude wanted to buy an Uzi as his weapon. An Uzi! You understand? An Uzi… I remind you – an Uzi has a 16 rounds per second rate-of-fire.
I remind you that the […] The most expanded version of an Uzi clip has 50 bullets. Not even… 5 seconds worth of shooting. In auto mode. Why the fuck would anyone need an Uzi during a school shooting?
Isn’t… Isn’t it easier to buy… I don’t know – a modified SKS with a grip… From a Kalashnikov [AK-47]. And with a 48 round clip.
Micah is here using “Kalishnikov” to refer to the AK-47; the AK-47 is a rifle that fires 7.62×39mm rounds. The AK-47 replaced the SKS in the Soviet military in the 1950’s, which also fired 7.62×39mm rounds.
Adam Lanza used an AR-15 at Sandy Hook Elementary school, which fired 5.56×45 ammunition. But Micah’s overall argument, that a long military-style rifle with semiautomatic fire is more ideal for shooting a large number of targets, is consistent with Adam’s choice of an AR-15.
Furthermore, if we look at the weapons he mentioned online as Kaynbred — keeping in mind that this was during his “shopping phase” — we do see some threads that are similar to the advice that Micah offers in this scene. For instance, on the forum “The High Road,” Lanza posted to the thread “AK-47 type” legality and the CZ Vz. 58?”
The CZ Vz. 58 is a rifle which is similar to the AK-47 only through their shared 7.62x39mm caliber and aesthetics. It functions entirely differently and has no interchangeable parts with the AK-47, including the magazine.
My state (Connecticut) has its own state-level assault weapons ban. In it is the following:
Sec. 53-202a. Assault weapons: Definition. (a) . . . inclusive, “assault weapon” means:
(1) . . . any of the following specified semiautomatic firearms: . . . Avtomat Kalashnikov AK-47 type . . .
According to what I have read, to be an “AK-47 type”, the firearm must be aesthetically similar to an AK-47, operate similarly, and have interchangeable parts. From a perfunctory search of Google, I have seen multiple people claim that because the CZ Vz. 58 does not meet these three requirements, it is not an “AK-47 type” and it is thus legal for sale in Connecticut. Does anyone have any information on this?
Lanza, trying to find any elbow-room he can in Connecticut’s assault rifle ban, notes how he cannot legally acquire any “AK-47 type” which thus makes following Micah’s advice difficult. His shopping has instead led him to the CZ Vz. 58, which he notes is a comparable firearm.
Lanza posted this question on August 25th, 2009. The English-subtitled version of “Bullet Time” was first uploaded to Youtube just four months earlier, on April 6th, 2009.
I’d also like to point out a trend I’ve noticed in Lanza’s gun shopping, that being his apparent taste for Czech firearms:
- Nancy had written him the check for a CZ 83, a Czech pistol
- He was above shopping for a CZ Vz. 58, a Czech rifle/carbine
- He started this thread inquiring about “The legality of the CZ vz. 61 Skorpion in CT?” – the CZ vz. 61 is a Czech submachinegun
A night out
There is voice-over from Jan, over a brief shot of rainbow (barely visible on this quality of video) seen outside of his window. His wandering thoughts suggest that, although he knows what he is plotting is evil, he believes in a relation of necessity between evil and beauty.
He quickly dismisses these thoughts, sounding embarrassed, and excuses himself by claiming “My buddy is for musings such as these.“
The scene changes. The boys are in a nightclub, and the audio is deafening, which they comment upon; it’s evident that they’ve gone out on the town to ostensibly “have a good time” even if they don’t seem to actually be enjoying themselves.
This scene seems meant to humanize that shooters, and show that they existed in a real place. The danger to society came from within, in other words. Also it perhaps is meant to evoke the prom that Dylan Klebold attended just 3 days before the columbine massacre, which carries with it the same sort of unsettling aura in retrospect.
In “the basement tapes” Dylan Klebold at one point is digging in his closet for pipe-bombs to show off; he unexpectedly pulls out his prom tuxedo, and remarks to the camera “I didn’t really want to go to prom. But since I’m going to be dying, I thought I might do something cool.”
Cut to outside the club, and Micah is smoking a cigarette. He remarks that it will be “purposely the last cigarette of [his] damned life.”
Here we can first see that “Natural Selection” shirt that he is wearing – openly in public, a fact that he will comment upon soon, in a scene that Adam Lanza referenced in his final post.
Jan and Micah arrive at their university’s campus one morning. They pass several students who notice them filming, but only they (and us) know that Micah is filming the future site – and perhaps future victims – of the massacre being plotted.
Entering the Psychology building, there are a number of student research displays. One purports to show “YOUTH’S SOCIAL COMPETENCE AND PLAYING COMPUTER GAMES.”
They also pass a “no smoking” sign, which Micah notes as “another sign for me to quit.”
They take an elevator up to a higher floor. A funny bit here, as they pass a beverage machine, and Jan stops to share an anecdote from the psychology department (probably transcending this film into real life):
This is actually a famous thing. A certain woman here had a really exciting happening with a machine such as this. She inserted enough change for a coffee… The machine of course started to dispense the coffee nicely. It dispensed half a cup, after which it stopped, shook impossibly and….
…filled up the rest with orange juice. Good one, good one.
They encounter another flyer from the psychology students. This time they joke about their plans to commit murder in light of the flyer, which supplies crime statistic estimates for the university’s student body.
Micah: Both pages of what is hanging awry here comprise a very cool article.
Jan: What is this?
Micah: Crooks with student’s books. Every tenth student is a killer or a rapist. Nearly every third is a pedophile. Every fourth is an Internet thief. Every twentieth deals drugs. […] Actually I’m very surprised and shocked by this analysis. I’d never be able to believe that one of my acquaintances is… if one of the students is really a killer. I-I’m not going to meet any like that.
Micah: Though we don’t know any killers yet.
Micah: All in all, one becomes the killer after the deed is done.
Further down the corridor, Micah goofs off, quoting action movie clichés (“Asta la vista, baby.”) Actually this shot establishes the location for the final sequence, when a shooting occurs in this actual corridor. For now, Micah just points out one of the more interesting elements of the film, that of “kitsch.”
“This is tomfoolery for tomfoolery’s sake, but it’s all really about the fact that…
Kitsch. Must. Be.
After all this is sublime art. Not fine art or some other bullshit.”
The implication here seems to be that although the killers do believe they are making an artistic statement of sorts, it is intentionally a gesture of (or perhaps just a knowing surrender to) kitsch; the school shooting is meant to appeal to a broad base that does not actually appreciate art.
There is a stylistic school that views kitsch as a desirable trait, which they could be expressing the philosophy of. Their school shooting is “dumbed down” in other words. That, or they are rejecting the very idea that art above a “kitsch” level is even an actual thing.
They will return to this theme of “kitsch,” when they return to this hallway.
Meanwhile, in Finland
An abrupt cut back to their apartment, where CNN is on the television, covering a then-breaking story about a mass shooting in Jokela, Finald.
This scene is shot live, which places the filming of this scene on November 7th, 2007.
Adam Lanza made reference to this shooting at one point on the SCMRPG forum: on August 27th, 2011, in the thread “Full 911 call from the library.”
In that thread, forum members were discussing whether audio from the 911 call from the Columbine library (one where the murder of several students can presumably be overheard) is missing from Youtube because of their policies, or because the audio has never been released at all. Adam Lanza attributes Youtube’s censorship to the perpetrator (Pekka Auvinen) of this Finnish shooting (without really weighing in on whether the audio in question has ever been released):
The context of this claim is that Pekka Erick Auvinen had uploaded a detailed manifesto online before committing the mass shooting that is being covered in real-time in Bullet Time, including a youtube video where he threatened the school.
Auvinen’s school shooting mirror’s Adam Lanza’s activities in several respects:
- He obsessively studied other shooters, particularly on Columbine-focused web forums. From the official report on the Jokela school shooting:
in March 2007, he wrote that he would probably die himself in carrying out the operation. He wrote that it was his wish that his deed would be remembered forever and that it would make a lasting impact on the world. He also believed other people would follow in his footsteps. The perpetrator admired the school killings perpetrated in other parts of the world and, for instance, on 16 April 2007 expressed his joy over the killings at Virginia Tech that day. A few days later, on 20th April 2007, he celebrated the anniversary of the Columbine school killings in his diary but said he regretted that the killers’ propane bomb failed to explode. On that same day, he wrote what are believed to be his first comments in an Internet discussion forum dedicated to the Columbine school killers.
- He suffered from depression, and projected the cause of this condition outward to society as part of his motive. From Auvinen’s manifesto, a passage that is harmonious with Smiggles’s farewell post:
Some time ago, I used to believe in humanity and I wanted to live a long and happy life… but then I woke up. I started to think deeper and realized things. But it was not easy to become existential… knowing as much as I know has made me unhappy, frustrated and angry. I just can’t be happy in the society or the reality I live. Due to long process of existential thinking, observing the society I live and some other things happened in my life… I have come to the point where I feel nothing but hate against humanity and human race.
You might ask yourselves, why did I do this and what do I want. Well, most of you are too arrogant and closed-minded to understand… You will probably say me that I am “insane”, “crazy”, “psychopath”, “criminal” or crap like that. No, the truth is that I am just an animal, a human, an individual, a dissident.
I have had enough. I don’t want to be part of this f*cked up society.
- As an extension of this attribution of his own ills outward to society, he expressed support for extreme neo-primitivist philosophers. Adam had John Zerzan, whose radio show he infamously called into. Auvinen’s equivalent guru was Pennti Linkola.
We can’t know what inspiration, if any, that Adam Lanza drew from Pekka Auvinen’s mass shooting and accompanying manifesto. However, given his encyclopedic study of mass shooters and the confirmation via Bullet Time and the above post that he was indeed aware of Auvinen, the likelihood that he read Auvinen’s manifesto and the official report about the incident is right about one hundred percent. The only mystery is if Adam only sympathized with what Auvinen wrote, or actually drew inspiration from it. We’ll probably never know.
As far as our fictional shooters’ take on this event, they mostly just mock the slow police response, pointing out that it took nearly 40 minutes for the police to locate the shooter (who had already shot himself in the head.) They wish for the same luck: “What we would do for 40 minutes…”
Micah moves on to point out another shooting, one that had been foiled in Germany, complaining “we can see that fashion is slowly making its way to Europe. So much for originality.“
They mention the mistakes that the wannabe-shooter made (talking about “Klebold” to strangers) as well as the mistakes of the German media: “You keep writing that you know how to handle the school shooting problem… Really – hats off. I throw myself at your feet. Keep calming society down. It’s all the better for us.”
Segueing into the next scene, they address the viewer who may be plotting their own school shooting: “Maybe since we’re recording ourselves…then we’ll give you a few cool pieces of advice on how not to slip-up.”
Talking in code
The first “advice” scene is likely irrelevant to the Sandy Hook shooting, since they explain the concept of talking in code. They use the example of pretending to discuss video game modifications when discussing their plot public: “Instead of bullet, we say File. Instead of clip, that is magazine, we say folder. Instead of weapon, that is gun, we say texture.”
Perhaps practical for their purposes, but Adam worked alone.
They encourage shooters to have a cover story, for the guns and ammo they stockpile. “Come up with some sort of… Justification… For your fun. … Yes, especially if you’re buying something and have some products on your hands.”
They then emphasize not to write down one’s plans. They are obviously videotaping their own preparations, since we are watching the product of that, but they explain that this is the only medium in which they are discussing plans. Hey specifically discourage e-mail and text messaging; “The most important thing is to not let yourself get caught.”
It is at this point where the phrase “operational history” is used, making this the scene that Adam Lanza quoted and referred to in his farewell post. The shooters urge erring on the side of caution and not flaunting one’s plans:
Old rule. In case there’s any doubt – refrain from it. Cause… Well, I understand, sometimes it’s worthwhile to…how should I put this… add something interesting. Exceed, stand on that edge, come out with something.
Just remember that in each country that edge is placed somewhat differently. That means I, here in Poland, can walk around, you know, with a t-shirt saying “Natural Selection”. Quote Eric Harris from time to time and no one will really pick on me for this.
However, don’t do that in the States. Don’t do that in the States and in Canada, in countries in which some kind of operational history for this kind of entertainment does exist. There, just don’t do anything stupid.
They discuss the process of working the wardrobe a shooter will use into their wardrobe well before the fact, so that they do not draw suspicion when arriving at the school dressed for war. Then,“the first dress rehearsal of the whole operation should be undertaken 3 months prior.”
Backtracking from the December 14th, 2012 date of the Sandy Hook shooting, this “three month” window for the dress rehearsal corresponds to September, 2012. This is roughly when the shooter “stopped going out” according to his mother Nancy; I don’t mean to attribute too much significance there, but feel it’s worth pointing out.
Continuing on clothing: “Look around for some clothes that have a lot of pockets. I can’t stress enough how important a large number of pockets is.”
Secrecy is again brought up, this time in relation to the date of the attack one has chosen:
“Do not mention the date. We, accordingly, won’t divulge any information to you regarding the date of what we’re doing.”
“Alright… We’ll limit ourselves to the fact, that if you’re studying at Warsaw University, then don’t worry about the student loan.”
“Yes, the student loan, is… is not your greatest concern right now.”
We then cut to a very brief shot of Micah’s car, visible from the same window where Jan had earlier seen children playing.
Their short dialogue places us in time, and confirms that the car will be needed soon.
” December. December. Yah…Car of mine. Will have to clear the snow off. December.”
Jan’s second address
We’re back in the apartment where the shooters live. Kossakowski is speaking directly the camera, relaxing with his elbow on his computer desk, holding up his head.
This scene is reminiscent of his address while looking out the window at the children playing, but his monologue this time is noticeably nastier; he has shifted from addressing those who wish to emulate what he will do, to those who survive what he has since done:
Ladies. Gentlemen. Dear viewers.
And I was just thinking that for some of you this may not be enough of a show. You are expecting, well, simply a psychopath. A scary psychopath. Evil.
For some of you I may not meet these expectations. You know…
How to say this?
A few people will probably be sitting there, analyzing everything. Meticulously. That “ooooh… tiny wounds on his face, the boy’s not accepting his external appearance. His lugs are shaking perpetually…Neurosis. Aggressive. Not nice.”
Yes. Right then.
But the rest of you probably need something less subtle. Something more distinct.
That’s why as a small fan-service, right now, I’ll be exhibiting some psychopathic behavior. What would you like for starters?
Maybe I should… start speaking incomprehensibly? Fine then. Here you are:
<He speaks gibberish for a few “sentences.”>
What else… Well, I won’t be spinning my head around its axis. I won’t be drooling either, since it’s somewhat unaesthetic. What else could I pull on you lot? Well, I could twist some interesting quotes in a mental way for you.
What to say… unfortunately, it’s late, nothing comes to me. I don’t know, maybe you want to see a bloody daub? I should have it around here somewhere… Ah. Here you go.
Yes. Stare in awe. Damn. Finally now… how should I break this to you?
If we shadows have offended, tough shit. I don’t know. What else can I do? Well, I can declare…
Alright. I’ll tell you what I think about this.
If you’ve made it to this part of the tape, then certainly you’re in no need of this. You know the what and the who, but… What the hell. If you’re expecting further declarations, be my guests.
I’ll fucking murder all in my path, when that beautiful day comes. I’ll be shooting at everyone indiscriminately. And quite frankly, I really don’t care who crosses my path then.
I can start spouting here about general hatred and equality through it and so on, and so on…
You know what? This is pointless. Really. It’s not worth it.
New Year’s Eve
Cut to a flat somewhere in Warsaw. It’s nighttime, music is playing, and fireworks are going off in the background; it’s New Year’s Eve, turning into 2008.
Some dark irony as a middle-aged woman, presumably Micha’s mother, gives him a kiss, and hope: “For great things this year. Give me… A kiss. Micha‚. To you I wish that your studies go well, and that your plans could come to fruition.”
“No worries. My plans will succeed. This will be my year.”
“Yea, this will be my year. […] The important thing is how I end.”
“Why? You’re ending this year?”
“As mister citizen Miller used to say, a true man is not recognized by how he began but by how he ended.”
Before the thought can be questioned, the fireworks display outside distracts everyone, and they head for the patio to take it in.
(concluded soon in part 2)