His hair was greasy under his hoodie and his clothes hung loosely from his skinny bones and had he not already shot me in the arm, I would have smacked him in the face and rolled him down the street. But I’m a realist. I didn’t want to get shot again.
“Sorry,” he said. “Tried to miss you.”
At first I didn’t feel much, just a sting, then I smelled the gunshot, kind of a chemically smell. Cordite, I would learn later, the modern replacement for gunpowder and the reason I didn’t see smoke drifting from the barrel of his gun. A 9mm, I guessed, but for all I knew it could have been a 45. I have no idea what those numbers mean. I’ve never owned a gun.
I looked at my arm and saw a hole in my jacket, my favorite jacket, and a growing circle of bright red blood, being pulled by gravity into an ever-lengthening oval.
“Get in the car.”
I heard him say it, a demand, really, and though I knew he might put another bullet in me, I didn’t comply with his wishes. Instead, I sat down on the guardrail and put my head between my knees and tried to fight off the world turning darker than it already was. If I passed out, the second bullet might be in the back of my head.
copyright joseph e bird, 2022