Letters for Myself: Part Four
To The Man Who Almost Killed Me
After a long battle with depression, I’d racked up quite a number of suicide attempts.
At this point in my life (two weeks before my 21st birthday), I had stopped such attempts as well as any self-harm attempts. It took a horrible event the year prior to slow suicidal thoughts.
Unfortunately, it took this event and the gun to my head to stop them altogether.
Dear… hmmm… not sure what to call you,
My Coworker/Friend’s Shooter?
Wimp Who Used a Gun to Hurt a Man Whose Only Crime Was Not Having Grasped the English Language?
Nah, all of those are too long or too weak. Like you.
The best name is Coward.
The night is supposed to be full of warm air, a tell that Spring is here. It’s supposed to smell like late March, full of hope and smells of fresh rain and grass. The time where you can shed your coat and wear a thick jacket. Hats and hoodies off for nine months while we unpile and unwind.
But this is reality and Indiana. Where the weather and life decide everyday to change like some people change their clothes, hair, or partners.
You were our reality that night. Yes, I share you with three other people.
A mixture that you knew no one would go above and beyond to defend or find justice.
Two Mexicans, barely legal, a mixed mother who worked to help her sick son (a beautiful boy smiling even through his breathing treatments), and a poor white college student.
Lives that could be easily disposed if you truly wished.
You were never in any harm from anyone in this and yet you probably lament the outcome. I wonder how many times you’ve seen my face or the man you shot.
Maybe you reason that you didn’t kill him. He still walks the Earth albeit with a permanent limp.
A limp created by your carelessness and cowardice.
But I get ahead of myself because this is my story to you. Not yours to me. I’ll never hear your lies and disappointing words because I know in my heart you’ve gotten away, from the police, from me, From any harm associated with what you’ve done.
Yes, you got away. Scot-free.
But not from eyes omnipresent. Maybe you don’t believe in God and Jesus was just a cool guy in your book.
Maybe you’re right. I don’t know.
I do know though that life will find you like Liam Neeson in Taken and it will kill you.
Slowly, but surely and you’ll pay for every sin you’ve committed.
But this is my story and I’ll tell you, Coward.
I knew you were coming.
My day started off on the wrong foot. I woke up, pain in my knee, swollen and tender.
The dog kept whining and opening my door, not wanting me to leave his sight even to use the restroom.
He knew you were coming.
I had to work though and whether I liked it or not, I started my journey an hour before the start of my shift.
The walk was long and backbreaking with the swollen knee. I hobbled and limped, my body telling me the future—not my future though.
Work was short-staffed, of course. The biggest consistency in fast food.
I clocked in with an attitude, and ready to just end my shift. It was only six hours, but it would feel longer. I just didn’t know how much longer when I counted my drawer.
One hundred even, and I put on my headset, my register and area set.
It was hectic at first with the dinner rush, but I held my tongue through it. Silently cussing where no one needed to hear it.
Then the chaos was controlled and a cold day turned dark.
“Do you want to go home?” My mixed mother manager asked.
Hazel eyes looked at me expectantly and it took me all my strength to keep from shouting YES, NOW, PLEASE.
I nodded and accepted, my drawer being lifted out of the register as fast as I could turn a key.
“Hey um…” the same voice called as she came out of the back office.
Hey um… meant stop counting the drawer. You’re staying.
Disappointment churned my stomach and I wanted to cry. Over something so stupid.
“He needs to go because he’s a minor.” She pointed at the heavyset teenager who was working the front.
I am grateful for two things that night:
That no one died.
That the minor left before anything happened.
I acquiesced and while I was disappointed, I took his place at the front.
He was jolly and jingly as he said his goodbyes.
The front closed soon after, but before we could start our closing routine, a family of ten came in.
They were your key, your invitation to a party none of us wanted to attend.
You took it and you took advantage of a family's kindness. They let you in and you were more than happy to change in the bathroom. Put on your coward robes.
I was changing the trash, assured that no one was in the dining room other than me. I was wrong.
A voice told me to look up, it wasn't yours. It's still a mystery.
You were staring, mouth covered, gun to my head. If your finger so much as twitched, I didn't have a chance.
I ran, automatic reflexes kicking in, but I had to stop. I had to think about the people around me. They could die if I didn't stay. You'd panic and hurt them or worse so I went to the drive-thru. Cowering near the manager, she saw you. Then the others. They soon realized, as I stood there unable to speak, what was going on.
You shouted at them and they got down. At least the manager and one of the coworkers did.
You had a hold of me and my coworker. Well, he didn't understand you.
It was a ricochet, an accident according to the report, but it didn't matter. He was hit and down, writhing in pain. If he'd died, you would've still been charged with murder. The specifics didn't work in your favor nor they did work against you.
The vibrations from the gunshot went through me as you threw me down. I hit the metal prep table and my side exploded.
You left us, you coward, with a man bleeding. He went into shock and his body fought the pain.
The police and ambulance arrived soon after and we were okay. We were safe. But never really because cowards like you exist everywhere. They hide behind the cold steel of a barrel, behind the handle of a knife.
He's fine with a small limp. He's okay, but not truly, because his body has been changed due to a coward.