This week I’ve been scouring the Internet trying to find a pair of spectator dress shoes. Spectator shoes are usually two tones of brown — dark brown and tan. They look wealthy and landed when worn with a tan linen or seersucker suit.

Politicians favor them in July. Southern lawyers like them. Dead writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Somerset Maugham always wore them. My late brother Matt, who was a terrific tango dancer, wore them when he danced at the Casa Loma Ballroom with Carmen Menendez on hot summer nights. When he came home from the madness of the Big War, he bought himself a new pair of spectators, to remind him of better times, he said. To erase the horror of what he had seen, I think.

On Monday morning, April 15, I had just finished a humorous column about how I had failed to qualify for the Boston Marathon, how I had trained and bought new running shoes, and then had forgotten to fill out the forms. I figured it would make you laugh. Then somebody called and said turn on the television.

The last time that someone called in the morning and said turn on the television, and I did, I saw two planes crash into the Twin Towers, and the world blew up.

So this time, I turned it on and there was the explosion and then the second one, and both of those videos kept being re-run for the rest of the day until we couldn’t bear it any more, and we reached for the remote to turn it off; and then, just then, a picture of a boy popped up on the screen, and his name was Martin.

Martin was 8 years old, and we learned that morning that he had died watching his father come in at the end of the marathon. Martin had been standing right there where that blast blew smoke, ball bearings and nails out onto the runners, and took his life.

In the picture he was holding up a sign he had made in school and on which he had written, “No more hurting people … Peace.”

To look at his 8-year-old eyes is not easy. They are, of course, full of pride, innocence and wonder. They are eyes that have seen a circus, birthday balloons, Christmas trees and Halloween pumpkins — and maybe a little girl in the second chair.

Martin’s face is a magical thing that seems to float in one of those glass snowballs with lollipops and rainbows floating around him.

A teacher probably had asked Martin to make a sign that said something positive, so he wrote “No more hurting people” and someone took a picture of him with his sign, and you can bet that his mother stuck it on the fridge.

After a while, I stopped looking at the picture, because Martin had become the up-close-and-personal face of the Boston Marathon tragedy. I turned off the television, shut the lid on my laptop and tried to block it all out.

After too many explosions, too many shootings, we turn away, do something else to erase it. The morning after 9/11, I went looking for a recipe for challah bread and bought the ingredients and baked a loaf. It was a small, silly thing, a distraction. I focused my attention on something silly to escape the madness. We all do this.

After hours, days, weeks of watching the horrors of these events repeated over and over, we find ways to cover our eyes, buy some shoes, bake some bread, make someone laugh. So this is what I have to do.

Each week I try to make myself laugh in hopes that it will make you laugh, and when I do, it shatters the darkness. If it doesn’t work, I’ll put on the spectator shoes and bake some challah.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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