Shots fired

I wasn’t sure what to post about today. I just got home from Chicago EXACTLY seven hours ago… I have a recipe and I have a few reviews to write. I have stories and adventures to share,  and I know you guys like to see pictures. but today I decided to share a story…I have had an eventful life, some of my stories are funny, some are sad, some are a bit scary…

When I was twenty, in 1995 ( before everyone had a cell phone) I lived in a seedy part of town, but the rent was cheap and the neighbors were nice and dogs were allowed. I was living with my boyfriend at the time (don’t judge) and we were just settling in for the night. Suddenly, we heard a BAM, BAM, BAM.

I thought it was fireworks. He knew it was gunshots. (Men are good at hearing  “man sounds”)

So, like any reckless & senseless under thirty person would do, we went outside to investigate. Another neighbor joined us in curiosity.

Big mistake.

We walked up to our neighbors house to find dead silence, a knocked over lawn chair and glass from a broken window glistening like diamonds underneath the light of the full moon. My heart was racing, my hands were clammy. Neither my boyfriend or I spoke a word, and continued forward cautiously in an attempt to survey the situation. The only light on inside the house was a yellow glow from a range hood.. and as we approached the broken window a silhouette appeared, and, seeing us out side it stopped, and lifted an object to his shoulder. It was a rifle. He began to move toward the door, ( luckily he didn’t start shooting out the window) and we ran.

The neighbor that came with us stuck with me and we dove into a wooded area across the white dirt road as we heard shots of assorted weapons fire away. As if in slow motion, I felt a whoosh across my hair and saw a poof of dirt explode in the road before me.  We hid in the brush of the wooded area as bullets ricocheted off the trees around us. I was all at once panic and grief stricken, completely aware that  my boyfriend was not with me.

It was a bright full moon that night, my neighbor and I were hidden well in the trees..ants and spiderwebs covered us and sticks poked at our skin. But, my boyfriend had ran directly down the dirt road that was well lit by the moons bright reflection off of it. I imagined him lying there in a pool of blood. I knew we needed to get to a phone. So I whisper to my neighbor, “We have to get help- we can’t stay here.” All as random popping sounds erupted from the yard we just fled from.

I was in fear that someone was wounded and was struggling to survive. As the shots continued, I realized there’s no way anyone could survive…

She reluctantly made a break with me to the nearest house. We huddled to the front door, knocking quickly in a panic.

“Please, help us. Let us in! We’re being shot at. Call 911!”

A quiet elderly voice spoke from the other side:  “Go away.”

Terror came over us as if we were soldiers on enemy ground attempting to get reinforcements in a foreign land. We ran through a backyard to gain access to another street.

A large man was standing with his door open, drinking a beer and wondering where the ruckus was coming from. This time, we didn’t ask. We ran inside his home. His wife was sitting on a worn brown corduroy couch in a floral satin robe, smoking a cigarette.

She exclaimed some superlatives from her mouth and I said “Please, we’re not the bad guys, call the police I think my boyfriend was shot.”

The couple realized we were truly terrified and tried to calm us down enough to find out what happened as they notified the authorities.

Soon, we heard the comforting sound of helicopters and sirens. Help was there.

I desperately wanted to know what happened to my boyfriend, but was terrified that the gunman was still at large. My heart was aching for the family in the home, a couple with a son that was in his early twenties, and a teenage daughter. There were so many shots fired that evening.. I was certain that they couldn’t have survived. I wanted to go back to the scene, but I didn’t want to face the sorrow I was anticipating in my heart.

Finally, an officer arrived to pick myself and my neighbor up. He simply said, “The gunman is in custody. We need a statement from you both.”

“What about the family?” I thought.” My boyfriend? ” I began to feel nauseated.

As we pull around to the scene, I see a man sitting on the ground in handcuffs, and a slew of weapons being laid on the ground. They were gun collectors, and he had used them all.  As I got out of the car, I saw my boyfriend, alive and well, talking to an officer. I ran to him with an overwhelming joy.

Then, I turned to see who reined terror on us that night. Fright turned to fury when I realized it was Sam. The couple’s twenty something son who we had spent many afternoons with hanging out.  I wanted to kick him in the head when I realized my shoes were gone. Apparently I had run out of them and not even known it.

The gunman’s mother and sister pulled up in a station wagon, my heart beat several beats of relief and gratitude that they were okay and the gunman’s father emerged from the shadows with a busted brow as his worst injury. I was stunned, grateful and full of rage all at the same time.

What I thought was a home invasion robbery was a drunken argument between father and son that had gone drastically wrong.

I was shell shocked for awhile afterwards, and when ever I heard anything remotely close to a gunshot, my heart with instantly race and I’d be back in the wooded brush huddled down as ants  bit me and sticks jarred  at my sides. Fortunately, with time it has passed although the events of the night are a vivid memory.

When I look back at myself as a foolish twenty year old seemingly invincible to gunfire, and I compare myself then to the person I am now, I realize how easily  my life could have ended that night, and many others’ lives as well.  I realize that there is a far greater force at work and that we really do have angels that protect us.  That night turned over much more than lawn furniture for everyone involved.  The family addressed and overcame some issues that had been masked over the years, and I realized the delicateness of life and how in a single moment your world can change, and to never… not even for a moment take anyone for granted.

(Oh yeah, I also learned to stay inside if I hear gun shots.)


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