Columbine Survivors Talk About the Wounds That Won't Heal

After all these years, it’s still there, in the back of her mind, lurking. No matter how good things are going, it never quite goes away, this feeling that she should have died that day. And her brush with death is the first thing that strangers tend to notice about her, like a limp or a disfigurement. Once they find out where she went to high school, that’s all they want to talk about.

Evan Ratliff, a co-host of the Longform Podcast, is the author of The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal.

“We’re all less moral than we think we are, including myself. I’m interested in the justifications people provide for themselves to get deep into something that starts as one thing and ends up as a murderous criminal cartel. Paul Le Roux, sure—but also doctors and pharmacists. It’s interesting to think about where the pressures in our lives create moral ambiguity that we didn't think was there, and why we do things that we’ve said we'll never do. We look at someone else and think that they’re really bad or evil, but then we’ve never experienced those pressures. That cauldron of factors is something I’m very interested in because I think it applies to everyone.”

Thanks to MailChimp and Pitt Writers for sponsoring this week's episode.

Kiese Laymon is the author of How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America and Heavy: An American Memoir.

“It’s ironic to me that my mom was the woman who taught me how to read. She was the black woman who taught me how to read and write. And everything I wrote outside of my house I was taught not to write to my mama. I just think that’s where we are as black writers and black creators in this country. Literally because most of our teachers are white. Principals are white. The standards are white. But I wanted to flip this on its head and I wanted to write this book to the person who taught me how to read and write. And, yeah, we got some dysfunctional, fucked-up shit going on. But we also have some abundant love shit going on, too.”

Thanks to MailChimp, The Last Column, and Pitt Writers for sponsoring this week's episode.

The Truck Stop Killer

When she was a 15-year-old runaway, the writer was nearly killed by a truck driver. Twenty-seven years later, she investigates whether her attacker was truck stop serial killer Robert Ben Rhoades, who often kept his victims chained in the back of his truck for weeks before killing and dumping them.