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I’m Hit!

by James S. Carr about a year ago in fact or fiction

Bullet wound in my left thigh

I’m Hit!
Photo by Max Kleinen on Unsplash

I can't remember the exact year but I believe it was the winter of '93, but it was freezing out and Philadelphia had ice storms for about two to three weeks. Black ice was everywhere. White ice, too. All the ices. The roads and pavements were sheets of slippery sludge and frozen ground. The street had been salted so they were passable but most of the pavements were like skating rinks still.

There were four of us hanging out at Coral and York, smoking a blunt and just trying to stay warm. It was me, G, Egg and Obi. The location is vital because next to the shuttered corner store that we are standing or sitting on is a house. That house was occupied by a mother and children of Puerto Rican descent. Two teenage girls were among the children. We didn't show any disrespect to that family due to the fact that they had a house that was right next to our good friends house, the Micks. We used to party and hang out in that house a lot. The neighbors would attend our blow outs sometimes.

Now the trouble starts when one of these girls brings home a boyfriend. He drove an orange Toyota Hatchback. Unmistakable car. Well, I don't know the whole story of who provoked who or what was said but it resulted in our friend getting shot in the foot. The part that I do know is that my friend, Ford, got shot in the foot because while he was standing on the corner and arguing with the car's occupants, he saw them pull the gun out and tried to kick it out of his hand and caught the bullet in his foot.

A week or so later, we're hanging in what is now known as a trap house three houses down from where someone was selling weed on Amber and York streets. We had a kerosene heater and a little TV plugged into the neighbors and we were just hanging out when we hear shots ring out from the corner. So we all empty out to see what's going on and as we get to York street, we see the orange Corolla speeding west, away from us. B.G. and Obi were standing on the corner, they tell us, and the dudes shot up the corner.

So, another week or two passes. We've arrived back to the night described in the beginning.

I have to clarify some things here. Coral street runs south, York street west, Amber street runs north and Boston street run east. We were on the southwest corner of that block, Coral and York.

Now, we're not paying attention to anything special, we're mildly stoned and reasonably happy. Suddenly the two girls that were involved with the orange car come running past us out of seemingly nowhere. They run into their house and I turn to see where they came from and there's the car! They turn right off of Coral to go up York. I look in the trash can and there is an empty 40 oz bottle of beer. I reach in and grab it. One of my friends said, "What are you doing with that?"

I replied, "Get ready. Because if that orange car turns back on to Coral street, I'm going to throw this bottle at them. "

I don't even think there was time to argue with me because here came that car, turning off of Boston street and onto Coral. Everybody got up and start walking north, towards the on coming car. Just as it reaches me, I turn and hurl the large glass bottle at the driver's side window. The car is still moving so the bottle smashes the back driver side window dead on. CRASH!!!

The four of us start to try and run but there's ice everywhere and our footing was not great. Fear is a motivating emotion so we had made it halfway to Boston street when the first gunshot rang out, BOOM! It was right around this time that I realized just how stupid I had just been. I smashed the glass of a car that had already shot one friend and shot at others. The possibility that he still had a gun never even entered my thinking. Until that first shot.

We made our way to Boston street while the orange car reversed to try and catch us. We turn onto Boston and about a third of the way G slips and yells for help. The orange car reaches the intersection and turns down Boston, pursuing us. Egg stops to go back for G and I am thinking to myself, they are going to be killed. Instead, they drove right past them. It seemed that they knew who threw the bottle.

Now, Obi turns the corner from Boston onto Amber. I'm about 30 seconds behind him. I hear two more shots ring out, BOOM,, BOOM ! Now I'm thinking that they want to kill my ass! Obi is yelling to our friend Mc standing on Amber and York. I'm running out steam between running and trying to keep my balance. So I turn onto Amber at a light jog because, as I stated, Amber runs south to north, they won't turn up the wrong way.

They turned on Amber the wrong way. So Mc is yelling at me to run, run!! As I get to York street I again turn right and Mc starts running ahead of me as I hit the corner. That man saved my life. I was now on York, running for my life, two or three years after where my brother first ran and then turned to make a stand only to be brutally shot to death. I could see the spot approaching, the spot that I visited January 1st, 1991 to see my brother's spilled blood. I hear Mc yelling, "They're almost on you Carr!! DROP!! Drop right now!!"

I drop. All I can think is these dudes went through all this just to catch me. Surely he is going to get out of his car and unload his gun into me. Instead, three shots ring out in succession, BOOM BOOM BOOM! I feel a whiff of air on my leg but no pain. I begin yelling, at the top of my lungs, "I'M HIT, I'M HIT OH MY GOD I'M HIT!!!!" I hear the car pull away and I peak over a car to make sure they're gone before I haul ass back towards Amber and York. There was an abandoned store right on the corner so I go to the side door and boot the door in and wait. I hear more gunshots and glass breaking coming from Coral and York streets.

After a minute or two Mc comes in to check on me. He asks me if I'm shot. I told him that I didn't think so but I felt a whiff of air on my left thigh. He looks down at my pants and said, "You've been shot, Carr."

I see the hole and I'm like, no, I think it just grazed me or something. And then the adrenaline started to subside and pain resurfaced and I said, yeah I'm shot.

The pain started from the back of my left thigh and then became my left thigh. I attempted a step but Mc helped me immediately to get outside. We saw Obi and told him what happened and he got on my other side until we could find a ride. We went to where my brother's memorial is on Boston and Amber. Another friend of ours, (we'll call him Muh for now), pulled up just as we got to the corner. They put me in his car and we set out for the hospital.

We didn't get five feet before a police officer's cruiser whipped right in front of Muh. Everybody is telling the cop to move so that they can get me to the hospital. Another cop arrives and they decide that they were going to put me in their car to get me there.

So the officer takes me to Episcopal hospital and my left leg is now a ball of fire and the right one is shocked. The officer opens the door to put me in a wheelchair and he's struggling. I was at least close to if not over two hundred pounds at the time and I could barely scootch out but he was doing some heavy lifting. So while we're struggling the nurse yells at me to help the officer, I'm not helping him lift me out. I cursed her out, apologized to the officer and the nurse started walking away from me with the wheelchair. The officer quickly caught up to her and asked her to be patient because there's a 16 year old kid with a g.s.w. to his left thigh. Thankfully she relented and allowed me to be treated humanely.

The Aftermath

My parents were called and was told that I had suffered a gunshot wound and could they please come quickly. I was there a few years earlier when we received a similar message from a couple of my brother, Joey's, friends, Pat and Bobby G. They knocked on our door around 30 minutes into January 1, 1991, to tell us through their tears that Joey had been shot. I can never be sorry enough for a lot of pain that I to my caused parents. That had to be a horrific phone call. Seeing their relief when they got to the emergency room was priceless.

So, the doctor told me that they couldn't remove the bullet because it, you know what, I don't even know why. The thing was practically sticking out of the back of my leg but they assured me that it will heal eventually and that millions live with shrapnel or bullets in them. He's the doctor so I took his word for it, but I lived in pain for almost 18 months before I convinced them to take it out. Which they did and gave to me. They said that it was a three eighty slug and I'm lucky I caught it off a ricochet or I might not have use of that leg at all.

Now let me tell you the pain that a gunshot causes for you lucky and smart enough folks never to have been shot. A gunshot wound feels like a hole in you, but a hole that feels burning, steel rod has been left in its place. I had to walk with a cane for the rest of those ice storms. One time a friend wouldn't give me a 10 minute drive home to prevent me from hobbling home for 3 hours. I didn't know my wife at the time but I swear to this day that her and two of her friends made fun of the way that I was walking, (that last part might just be in my head because it's probably the first time I saw the girl who I was to marry).

I lost the bullet. I had it for a while but I couldn't get a jeweler to attach it to a chain or something although it tried. I probably still have around somewhere. Wherever it is, it won't harm anyone else, and for that I'm grateful.

This is dedicated to the dude that saved my life and all my WTO boyz & girlz

fact or fiction

James S. Carr

Just a writer from the hood telling my memories of my teenage years.

Read next: The Greengrocer's Dilemma

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