Getting primal in Texas.
Getting primal in Texas. From video made public by Jennifer Read

On the day before Thanksgiving, Jennifer Read released a video she took of her husband's last moments in this our only world. After Chad Read was shot twice by the partner of his ex-wife, William "Kyle" Carruth, he died on the porch of a house in Lubbock, a small and impressively unexceptional city in northwest Texas, on November 5. The events that led to Read's end at the age of 54 concerned a custody dispute. Chad wanted his child, threatened to take his ex-wife to court if he didn't get his child on the double, and yelled at his ex's partner for this and that reason. The solution to this loud and emotionally charged confrontation? For Carruth, it was the introduction of a gun. This is how they roll in Texas.

In the video, Carruth and Read bump chests. Clearly, Read has the bigger chest, but Carruth has the gun, which he fires at Read's feet. Read shows no fear and attempts to grab and take control of the deadly weapon. Carruth evades the effort and does what, in the 35th chapter of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, is described as a "kind of double, triple, kangaroo jump," and shoots Read twice (head? heart?). Read's whole body falls immediately onto the worn wooden planks of the porch. It's as if in some place above him, the strings holding up his life were cut just like that. He becomes a sorry heap by the feet of his killer. And it's at this moment (as Read lay dying), that the video enters a region of American culture that is truly extraordinary.

The post-shooting exchange between Carruth and Jennifer Read is surreal in the deepest sense of that word. Chad Read is there, dead on the porch, and Carruth, who, by the way, hasn't been arrested for this homicide (Texas!), speaks calmly about how he made himself clear to Chad, how Chad had it coming, how, at the end of the day, he did nothing wrong. Jennifer Read explains that he was there to get his child, that's all. Carruth explains that the child isn't even in the house, so all of this is just a great waste of time. Jennifer Read then says something about why didn't the dead husband's ex, who is right there in front of her, just tell Chad that. There is in this exchange not even a hint of astonishment or horror about the deadly shooting itself. Indeed, one has the impression that Carruth will simply enter his house and return with a broom and dustpan to clean up the mess.

There are, as far as I can tell, three ways to explain the absence of horror in the last part of this disturbing video. One, the participants are in a state of shock and so are incapable of processing and expressing the proper extent of the tragedy. Two, the participants are very religious and so are very certain angels are already there on the porch doing the lord's work, which is to carry Chad Read's soul up to the place of reckoning. In this respect, Chad is no different than someone in a plane that's taking off. The only difference is he's going to the place where you "never grow old."

Three, this is Texas; this is the essence of that state's culture. You on a man's property, and that man want you gone, you gotta get. In this state, and also a courthouse in Wisconsin apparently, the introduction of a gun into a tense situation automatically opens the breadth of self-defense to its fullest.

KXAN reports:

Read’s widow Jennifer Read, meanwhile, has filed a petition to take custody of Read’s children away from his ex-wife, according to her attorneys. In an affidavit, Jennifer Read further claims that Read’s ex-wife “is endangering the physical and emotional well-being of the children by permitting them to be in the presence of the man that murdered their father.”