I don’t even bother to watch the news anymore. What is the point of hearing nothing but bad news. I go to bed and I am tired. I wake up and I am tired. I leave my apartment and there are people sitting on the sidewalk strung out on something. I walk around them because I have to get to work. I get to work and someone is always calling out sick. My boss tells me I have to pick up the slack, he doesn’t care that I have problems of my own. I go to school 2 nights a week trying to finish my degree so I can hopefully get out of a crappy life into something better, but my Professors don’t seem to want to teach, all they want to do is rant and rave about how much better we would be if the country were more like Europe or Russia. Perhaps this is simply life. Perhaps this is just a phase I am going through. Sometimes I am completely sick of it all. I don’t care about anybody but myself for now. I know that is cynical of me. I tried to volunteer a while back when there was this chick I was interested in. I don’t know how I did it, but I found the time to spend several hours a week with her down at the animal shelter she volunteers at . The dogs and cats were cute and all, but I was only there because I thought it would make her like me. Then I found out that she likes girls and not guys, so that killed that. They have called me several times, but I just ignore the calls and let it go to voice mail. I didn’t give them an explanation as to why I stopped signing up to help. I just didn’t sign up anymore and stopped going by. Perhaps I should have stayed on a little longer. Hopefully they will get the message and stop calling me soon. I have better things to do than clean out cages of a bunch of dumb animals. I wish life would get better somehow. I wish I could finish school and get on with my life. I wish every relationship I tried didn’t turn out to be a total crap sandwich.
Another day, my alarm clock didn’t need to wake me up. The couple across the hall has a crying brat that won’t shut up. I hear the dam kid all hours of the day and night. I understand children need a lot of work, but if they couldn’t handle it they shouldn’t of had it. Well I’m up an hour early. I might as well get a shower and get out of the apartment. Perhaps if I get to work early my boss won’t ride my ass so much this week. Into the shower, bagel for breakfast then out to the bus stop. I am sitting on the bench when an older woman and two kids walk up. They can’t have my seat, I’m too dam tired. Maybe I should get up. No they can just stand for a little while. There the bus is just down the street. Finally, I can get off this hard bench and on to work. What the heck is that guy doing, some idiot is running across the street straight at me. No wait he is turning, he is headed to the woman with the two kids. What the hell, where did that sedan come from. Shit, oh no gun shots. That is the last thing I remember before waking up in the back of an ambulance covered in blood.
Looking around I couldn’t believe it, I was on a stretcher. Oh God, please don’t let me die. That is what I remember muttering when I regained conciseness. The whole situation is a blur. I just saw people hovering over me. I have on an oxygen mask and I am in shock. I look at my hands and they seem to be okay. I look at my feet and they seem to be there. I look down and my shirt is stained red with blood. The stain is on my left sleeve and all over the left side of my shirt. Have I been shot, no wait, there are no iv lines hooked into my arms. I am not on a heart monitor. So where the hell did all of this blood come from. Sir, Sir, can you hear me is what the EMT ask as she shines a light into my eyes. Sir, what is your name? Sir, can you hear me ?I begin to stutter and I tell her my name is Jordan Graham. Sir, do you know what day it is. I tell her it is Monday. She say sir, do you know where you are. I respond to her litany of questions as quickly and clearly as I can. She then tells me that I am okay, that I was found passed out behind the bus bench. I then feel my head, oh shit it hurts! She sees me touching the right side of my head. The EMT checks then tells me that I have a bump on my head! She says that it must of happened when I jumped behind the bench for cover. I don’t remember jumping the bench, I only remember bits and pieces of a blur. Now here I am covered in blood and laying in an ambulance with a throbbing head and a thousand questions. Oh God, why did this happen to me. The EMT tells me that I am being taken to the hospital for an x-ray just to be sure I don’t have a severe head trauma. All I know is that I want to get out of here and back to my apartment. I am terrified and just want to run and hide!
I see the back of the ambulance close up then her radio chatter and the sound of a siren blaring to clear people out of the way. The ambulance bumps and shakes as we go down the street and make a couple of sharp turns. It seems like an hour, but I realize as I am still gasping for air in sheer panic that there is a hospital just a few miles away. I try to relax but I think I need to change my shorts. I try to run through my mind the events of the last hour I think. I am trying to form a mental picture through a group of fuzzy images. Then it hits me like a ton of bricks. Oh God, the people that were standing beside the bench. I try to focus but I can’t. We arrive at the hospital and I am wheeled in on the gurney into the emergency room. I see nurses, hospital staff, a couple of doctors. One comes over and looks at the chart the EMT has prepared. He marks it up and hands me off to a hospital attendant and a nurse. I am being pushed down the hall, as I am going down a long corridor, I look over and get a glimpse of a girl laying on table in an ER exam room. She is covered by a sheet and has all kinds of tubes and a heart monitor hooked to her. I am too engrossed in my own situation to complete register what is going on. I am pushed into an elevator and I go black again. I don’t remember much until I wake up, this time in a hospital room. I come around and the whole world still seems fuzzy. I look over and see that I have an IV drip in my arm. I look down and see that I am in a gown, you know one of those that barley covers your ass. I am still dazed and confused, I am thinking that perhaps they gave me some kind of sedative, something to calm me down. I lay there for a few moments looking at the ceiling. A nurse walks in and she has a chart in her hand. She sees that I am awake and ask how I am feeling. I tell her in a raspy dry voice that I think I am okay but that I could use some water. She says she will get an attendant to bring me some. She says you were quite lucky, you only have a superficial injury to your head. No major damage, just a nasty bump that put you out of it. I just lay back and try not to think too much. The attendant comes in with a bottle of cold water. I put it first to my forehead and he kind of laughs. I then open it and guzzle it, I feel like I haven’t had anything to drink in a week. He say just buzz if you want anything. I ask him where my clothes are. He says that my personal effects, meaning my wallet, keys and phone are in the drawer beside me. He says he isn’t sure where my clothes are. So I am laying here in a hospital bed, not really sure what happened to me or anyone else for that matter. What keeps coming back to me is the momentary image of that girl in the ER down stairs. Who is she, I feel like I know her but I cannot be sure. I just lay back and go to sleep hoping that this is a bad dream.
I finally get released from the hospital about 6pm in the evening. I had to call a friend to drop by my place and pick up some clothes for me. My afternoon wasn’t very restful, I was awakened shortly after I got my water by a doctor that wanted to go over my x-rays with me. He wanted to check my vitals. He ordered a crap ton of blood drawn and tested. I was plagued by a litany of people, hospital administrative staff, wanting to know if I had insurance, wanting to know who my contact person was. Then after I was done with that, the police came in and wanted to ask me a battery of question. My head was still throbbing and they wanted to know every detail of what I knew from the time I left my building until the time I was put in the ambulance. I wasn’t much help, except for one photo they showed me taken from a nearby street camera. The guy that was running across the street just prior to the Sedan coming out of nowhere ,then gunshots. They ask me if I remember seeing him and I just said that I remember him clearly. Then my head began to hurt and I buzzed the nurses for some Aspirin. After the inquisition by the police, they made a photo of my drivers license and told me that if they needed anything else that they would contact me. Now I am out here outside of the hospital trying to piece the day together hoping that it is still a bad dream, but knowing it isn’t. I am hoping that I can just get home and hide in my apartment before something else bad happens to me.
It was after dark when I got back to my place. I was exhausted, I was hungry, I was just plain miserable. I sat down on my couch to try to focus myself. I didn’t want to move, but despite the way I felt, I knew there were a few things I had to do. I started by getting a shower, I wasn’t sure if the nurses at the hospital had gotten all of the blood off of me, but I didn’t want to take any chances. After that I rummaged through the fridge for something to eat. I found left over Chinese from two days back, it seemed to be okay. Once I felt clean and my little stomach was full, I turned on the TV and decided to check my messages. I had over 2 dozen messages. The firs was from my boss wanting to know where the hell I was. The second was from a telemarketer. By the time I got to the 6th message, I noticed that people weren’t calling wanting something. The 6th message was from my office, it wasn’t my immediate boss but his upper level supervisor. They were very understanding, they said that the police had contacted them and explained what had happened to me. I was told to take the rest of the week off and to contact them when I was ready to come back to work. My mother called and said she saw the news and asked if I was okay. The girl from the animal shelter called as well as the lady who ran the shelter. I didn’t think that many people actually gave a shit about me. After the litany of phone calls, I turned up the volume on the news. It was then that I saw the whole story from start to finish. I saw the reporter at the scene of the shooting earlier in the day. I saw the woman and her two grand children. I saw myself sitting on the bench from a street camera perspective. I then saw the aftermath. The reporter said that a 9 year old girl had been shot twice. Suddenly it came over me like a ton of bricks. My head ached as it all came back to me. I saw everything that happened but didn’t remember because I had reacted out of instinct. I could actually see the young girl in my mind. I could see the look on her face as a bullet struck her and blood came out of her young body. I saw her fall to the ground and the expression on her grandmothers face, the sudden mind numbing horror expressed on the old woman’s face. Every detail was as vivid as if I were watching a movie. I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I got out my tablet and made what I thought was an incoherent video detailing all that I remembered. By the time I was done I was exhausted. I shut off the TV and my tablet and decided it was time to sleep. It was past 10 pm and I was completely exhausted. I went to bed an didn’t wake up until 9am the next morning. When I did wake up, my head still ached but I only had a couple of missed calls. I got another shower then called my work and my family. The boss was very understanding and told me that I had enough leave both sick time, comp time and vacation to take off 6 months If I needed it. I told him I would be in the next Monday. My family was frantic, I told my mother to calm down and that I would be up to visit in a few days. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with me, I all of a sudden started to cry once I had settled down. I couldn’t stop it, I just bawled like that kid next door that I couldn’t stand. I then realized all of the things that I was not getting in my life. I began to feel like such a heel for how I had been acting lately. I then realized that despite myself, that I was important to a lot of people. I spent the rest of the morning on the phone and on social media. I called the animal shelter and told the lady who ran it that I was fine and that I was sorry that I hadn’t been by lately. I signed up for a whole month of volunteer time. I called the chick that I thought was not into me, we talked for half an hour. While she still digs other girls, she was very sympathetic and told me how much she missed having me around the shelter. I didn’t realize that I was having such an impact on the lives of others. When I got through with all of this other stuff, I contacted the police detective that had spoken with me. I sent him the video file and told him that I wanted to help. He said he would look at it and get back with me. I then went on social media and looked up the young girl and her family. I saw that she was in fact the young girl I had seen at the hospital. I didn’t see any new information but what had been reported, but I planned a deep dive into her and her family after lunch. I then stopped and took a deep breathe. I looked out my window at the shadows cast by the sun and the Pigeons sitting on a ledge on the building across the street. It finally dawned on me, as if I light had been turned on in a dark closet. I had been so self absorbed lately in my own petty problems and selfish needs, that I had forgotten that there was a world all around me and that whether I liked it or not, I was a part of it and that I had an affect on everybody and everything no matter whether I realized it or not.
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what a ride! from the front seat sitting next to the narrator — seeing through his eyes and experiencing this character’s slow shift. I liked how there was no release, no diversion, as the energy kept building. Seat belt fastened the reader experiences this story first hand,
I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I try my best to help people connect with the character(s).
The narrator's voice connected really quick, and enjoyed the introspection throughout. Gave it a real quality to me...while reading it was thinking yeah, this could be real. I liked that you had me guessing. Looking forward to reading some more of your work.
I hope to do some more writing soon. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.