Threats (Dark Safari L)

Cyrus bowed his head, shook it back and forth over his uneaten salad. “I’m disappointed, Mr. Jacobs. Coach. You say that you’re watching out for our children while they’re under your supervision, but you refuse to take action when obvious threat — ”

“What threat?” Dan had to restrain himself from slamming his fists on the table. “The threat that your son will read bad literature? If you’re that considered about aesthetic quality, Reverend Goodman — ”

“You’re a man of science, are you not?” Cyrus was now leaning forward, his right forearm lying on the table. “Surely you know of the psychological studies that have shown a causal relationship between comic books and sociopathic behavior?”

Dan smirked; Cyrus was speaking like a preacher again, a high priest of paranoia. “I have. And I’ve also read about studies which have questioned the conclusions, and the methodologies, of those studies.”

Cyrus sighed heavily, as he leaned back in his metal chair. Dan suddenly felt hungry, but fought the urge to begin eating. He watched as Cyrus looked around the dining area of the Pizza Place, his head stopping as he looked up to his left. Dan glanced in that direction; a mute television displayed a video of police officers surrounding a brick building.

“Look at that, Daniel.” Cyrus’ voice had grown soft again. the words STANDOFF AT STATE UNIVERSITY glared in yellow letters under the video. “Tell me, when you were at college, how many times was your school in lockdown?” Dan didn’t respond. “This world we live in now, the world we’re sending our children into — it’s not the same world we grew up in.”

“The world’s always changing, my friend.”

“Yes, but does that mean we have to accept this?” Cyrus pointed at the television as he glared across the table. “When hatred and evil show up in our neighborhoods, do we just shrug our shoulders until they come knocking on our doors?” He lowered his arm. “If there’s something we can do to prevent society’s sickness from spreading, don’t we have the right, the responsibility, to act?”

Dan shook his head. “Of course. I just don’t — ”

“You’ve admitted that the comic book Butch brought home had no redeeming qualities.” Cyrus was now an archbishop of anxiety. “You’ve also said comic book reading’s been disrupting your fencing practices. And there’s more than enough scientific evidence to suggest comic books could be partly to blame for the breakdown in public order. I see nothing of value in these things — they’re a disease, Daniel — and I simply cannot understand why you won’t do something as simple as telling your students not to bring their comic books to your fencing practices?”

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