About 45 minutes ago, a little after 1:00 AM… I had just finished watching the final episode of Lost a few minutes earlier while spending a couple good hours on the exercise bike when I heard some fighting across the street from my apartment at the bar and grill where I occasionally eat dinner. This is pretty normal at this time of night. People frequently congregate outside the bar and scream and yell at each other, though I normally can’t understand what they’re saying. This time it was one or two women screaming “nigger!” repeatedly at some other guy with a whole mess of other people, maybe ten or so, pushing and yelling at each other and basically acting like children, which again, is quite normal.
I hopped in the shower thinking nothing of it and had the water running for probably less than a minute when I heard what I thought was a gunshot, though I couldn’t be certain. It just sounded like fireworks, as I’ve never really been around gunshots before. I jumped out of the shower and ran to my backpack, since that’s where I normally keep my phone, but then remembered I’d plugged it in to recharge so I ran to the wall and grabbed it then ran to the window, all the while hearing more gunshots. I looked out to see the group of people had moved further into the parking lot and one dude with a little pistol was firing shot after shot into another guy’s chest from maybe fifteen feet away. Somehow I didn’t even stop to consider the possibility of stray bullets or anyone wanting to eliminate witnesses.
Then everyone scattered, driving away with screeching tires, leaving the one guy lying motionless on the pavement.
During all this I was trying to navigate into the dialer program on my phone, then for some reason I tried opening my address book, as though I have 911 in my contact list, then had to go back to the dialer and delete the old number I’d previously dialed, then called 911. Then I sat on hold for two, three, maybe five minutes, and by the time someone answered the police were already pulling into the parking lot.
Then I realized I’d spent all my mental energy trying to dial that phone and hadn’t really taken stock of everything that was going on. I didn’t get a description of anyone. I couldn’t remember what kind of cars they were driving, I didn’t count the shots, nor the number of people. There were two, possibly three cars. All I remember was there was a lot of people and a lot of gunshots. I’m pretty sure the shooter was wearing a clean white t-shirt, but even that I can’t be certain of. I saw at least one shooter; there could have been another, but the one guy with the gun didn’t seem to be trying to protect himself.
I always thought that if I found myself in a situation like this, I’d just be calm and take everything down, but it just doesn’t work like that. In my defense, though, I’ve never been big on catching the bad guy. In that moment I just wanted to make certain that the guy got medical attention as quickly as possible, even though I’m pretty sure it was a lost cause.
It was like something out of a gangster movie and I’m still in shock as I write this. I already wrote an email to work telling them I was coming in late and I’ve poured myself a stiff drink… which is probably ironic since no doubt it was alcohol that contributed to this.
I remember just a couple weeks ago someone inside that bar was telling me that fights never broke out around there, that it was a surprisingly peaceful bar, and I spoke up and had to differ with him, telling him that I live right across the street and regularly hear dramatic fighting around this time of night.
And one other ironic thing was that I was at the local sex club earlier tonight for a writers group meeting and was hearing people in the next room getting tied up, screaming, getting whipped and spanked and all sorts of crazy, dramatic noises. I remember from my membership orientation, however, another new member asking one of the directors what the craziest, most fucked up non-consensual thing that had ever happened in the 11 year history of the sex club after having over ten thousand members walk through their door. The director answered something like, “There was this one time that a guy came in and was hitting on all the ladies and he smacked a girl’s ass without her permission, so she complained about him. When someone went to give him a warning, he slapped her on the ass, so we banned him for life and he left without a major incident. That’s about the worst thing I can think of.”
I’ve been thinking about the irony of that for the last two years that I’ve been a member at the CSPC, wondering what kind of stories you would get if you went in to any bar in America and asked the same question. And yet there are so many people who want the sex club shut down for moral reasons, while there are countless bars in the country that are no different than the one across the street from my apartment.
I think I’m gonna go in there tomorrow night and have a bacon-cheeseburger and a gin and tonic, and what do you want to bet they’ll be serving just as much alcohol as they always do?
It’s 3:05 now, and I’m still wide awake, still not thinking clearly.