First, they came for unregulated handguns in the possession of citizens with violent criminal records, and I said, “You know, that sounds reasonable. Someone with a violent criminal record has probably lost his or her right to possess a handgun. So, yeah, sounds good.”

Then they came to require background checks, gun licenses, and regular gun safety courses, and I said, “All of this sounds fine to me. Guns are dangerous, and we regulate every other dangerous product. So, really, whatever you want to do on this is also fine.”

Then they came for my assault rifle, and I said, “Assault rifles? You should have started with assault rifles. You’re doing this backwards. But OK, of course you can have my assault rifle. Why do I need an assault rifle?”

Then they came to guarantee mental health care to everyone, because our treatment of our most vulnerable citizens is a measure of our dignity as a society, and I said, “This one is obvious. In fact, I can’t believe we HAVEN’T been guaranteeing mental health care for everyone who needs it. Let’s get going on this.”

Then they said, “We may have to increase taxes on corporations and upper-bracket income earners to pay for this,” and I said, “Well, that would only be fair.” And they said, “We’re just saying.” And I said, “Really, it’s fine. We’re on the same page here.” And they said, “OK then.” And I said, “But thanks for letting me know.” And they said, “Sure. Any time.”

Then they said, “You know, it’s really nice that we’re having this conversation,” and I said, “I agree, seems long overdue.”

Then they said, “You know, this piece seems fine so far. But maybe it takes itself a little too seriously, even in the solemn wake of our national tragedy,” and I said, “I can live with that. What do you want?” And they said, “How about a zombie comically roaming through a suburban strip mall at the height of the holiday shopping season?” And I said, “Well, even that reliable humorous convention might seem a little indelicate at this time.” And they said, “I see your point,” but still I said, “Let’s add one anyway!” And so we added a zombie comically roaming through a suburban strip mall at the height of the holiday shopping season, and for good measure I threw in a bumbling couple on their first date spilling their over-sized bucket of popcorn as they scrambled to get out of the way.

And then there was a silence, which was like a moment of prayer. And this was just before we went our separate ways, and it lasted a good minute—I mean, maybe it was only 45 seconds, but it felt like at least a minute, maybe more.

And when it was over they said, “I see what you mean about the zombie.”

And then there was another silence, that was maybe not as long, and I just looked down and said, “Yeah, I know.”