I glanced at the clock: 12:22. Crap. I grabbed my purse and dashed to the car. I jumped in and backed out of the driveway. With a death grip on the steering wheel, I chastised myself. “Why did you invite people to a dinner party? Oh yea. That sounded fun four weeks ago. But now, in 6 hours and 38 minutes, eight people are coming over, expecting food. Way to go Einstein.” Then I smacked the steering wheel. That’s what I did. That’s what I said. Because I talk to myself all the time. Which, according to some people, makes me a little crazy.
I turned onto West 7th Street, headed to the grocery store. As usual, West 7th Street was backed up. Fifty cars and not one was moving. Typical. I growled at the red light. “Come on. Turn green.”
“You better not bug me man,” bellowed a grubby, hulking man. He looked a little less than sober, as he staggered and swayed on the sidewalk, about 4-feet from my passenger side door.
“I’ll bug you any time I want,” Another man, skinny and scraggly, screamed back, a few feet away.
Both men were in desperate need of a bath.
Ahhh… Homeless people, one of the advantages of living in a big metropolitan city.
“I’m telling you to back off or I’ll shoot.”
“Go ahead you-son-of-a–”
I froze, all except my eyeballs, which went flying to the right, so I could see out my side window.
Big gun. Bullets. Crazy guy. Every flight instinct in my body kicked on. But, the light was still red. Move your cars people!
“I told you, I’d shoot but – No – You wouldn’t believe me.”
My jaw locked. You’d think some smart guy would run the light… But… No… That would be breaking the law. And, we’d rather get shot than break a minor traffic law… I twisted my head an inch or two, to where I could see the other man holding his blood-soaked hand.
“You want me to shoot you again?” Gun Guy ranted at Shot Guy before swirling around and almost falling. Then, so scary… He bent down and shot a sheepish grin at – – me.
Don’t look. Don’t look. Don’t look. I wrenched my eyes forward, refusing to engage.
Gun Guy stood back up, waved his gun over his head so all-50 or so cars, and Lord knows how many people, could see.
Which meant he was really crazy… Not just talking to himself crazy…
“I think I liked shooting you!”
I assessed my options. I was boxed in. Cars on three sides. On the fourth, was the sidewalk, where the crazy gun guy was – I couldn’t go his direction – that would surely attract his attention… and get me shot.
And the light was still red.
Gun Guy dipped his head down and peered into my car again.
“Hey, pretty lady. Will ya give me a ride to the nearest bus station?”
Don’t look. Don’t look. Don’t look.
I acted like I hadn’t seen anything. Heard anything. Knew anything. No… I was just a deaf person waiting to get shot because some numb-nuts four cars up wouldn’t run a red light.
Gun Guy’s eyes burned across my face. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him belch. Then, he turned his attention back to the guy he just shot.
“I think I’ll shoot you again.”
This time he said it all calm-like… Which made him sound crazier!
“No man. Please don’t shoot me. I’m going.” Shot Guy begged, walking backwards, as his blood spurted all over the concrete.
My heart pounded. I casually pulled my suitcase-sized purse close. Stuck my hand in and felt around. Wallet. Keys. Something sticky. Checkbook. Finally. A phone! I pulled it out and hid it in my lap. Punched in 911.
“911. What is your emergency?” A voice screamed out.
Crap. I jabbed at it to lower the volume. Then muttered, “There is a guy shooting people on West 7th Street.”
“Could you repeat that?”
Argh… “There is a man shooting people on West 7th Street.” I did a quick, mini-side glance toward Gun Guy.
Gun Guy had wandered a couple of feet toward Shot Guy. And, Gun Guy was talking, laughing, and waving the gun at Shot Guy. He seemed to be very pleased with himself.
“Can you describe the shooter?”
Green. The light turned green! Thank God!
“He’s a big man, like 240 lbs., wearing a red shirt. Homeless. You can’t miss him. He’s waving a gun.”
Cars started moving.
“You said he shot someone?”
I eased my car forward.
“Yes, in the hand. I think he’s homeless too.”
“Can you describe the victim?”
Really? I glance in the rearview mirror. Shot Guy was limping, in full retreat. Gun Guy was heckling, right behind him.
“He’s shot. And, he’s gushing blood.”
I mentally cussed at every car going 10 miles an hour. Then I saw it. A side street. Thank God. I took it. Out of the crush, I hit the gas and zoomed three blocks without pausing at a single stop sign.
“I need – like what was he wearing?”
“I don’t know. Like something dark. Jeans and a navy blue t-shirt. And, of course, he’s shot. So he’s b-l-e-e-d-i-n-g!” My voice screeched.
“Well, where is the shooter now?”
“What? I don’t know”
“What do you mean, you don’t know?”
I grit my teeth. “I drove off.”
“You left the scene of a crime?” Her voice swelled with indignation and disgust.
“He was shooting people. It seemed like the smart thing to do.”
That’s when I realized I only talk to myself. I’m not as crazy as Gun Guy, or the people who refused to run the red light, or the 911 Operator who didn’t understand why I felt the need to flee from a shooter… Those people are freaking crazy.
I’m just eccentric.