Friday, June 21, 2013

A Random Flash of Truth

Everything in me screamed to take a deep breath, count to ten; to let this pass as horrible as it might seem. Though I'll admit there are a few doorjambs that have suffered the tip of my boot over the years, I've been a pacifist all my life, never once have I touched another person in anger. Even in high school I would accept the branding of coward rather than do battle over something said in error or in haste, as being a non violent man in a violent world made me feel special. Not that anyone else need have known, it was a personal commitment, an internal promise to do internal struggle for internal, and eventually perhaps, e-ternal reward.

And yet in spite of that history I couldn't help but question whether my idealism was just that, by definition conceptual, only useful to scholars and moralists and those who simply cannot face the real world as it is.

It was obvious they would kill him. It was six animals on one downed boy, they were kicking and stomping and laughing as if 5 year olds watching the clowns at the circus. Shouting would only have made me a temporary target, I only had that one moment to decide; try to save this boy's life by meeting violence with violence, register my verbal protest and add to the young punks' entertainment, or whimper "there but for the grace of God" and go on about my business unmoved.

To second guess is divine, I know there was an infinitesimal chance that had I bellowed "hey you stop that right now!" I may have turned a mob aside. I've often imagined myself standing atop Dunwoody hill, a tornado spawning thunderstorm tearing through Golden Valley aiming directly at the city, and then I raise my hands and announce the omnipotent breadth of my power, hoping to bluff the clouds back into Kansas or wherever they came from. But in both that case and this I assumed the percentage chance of a happy outcome to be underwhelming.

So I rushed them screaming bloody murder, as if a new movie monster forced to outscare my peers. I'd not yet reached them before one young man had pulled a pistol from his jacket and was aiming it at me, shaking so hard that I could see his Adam's apple bobbing below a mouth opened wide enough to swallow the moon.

The sound was terrifying, the pain, intense. I saw stars for a moment; just before I took the shooter to the ground and wrestled the gun from his limp hand. As I rolled onto my back and scooted away from the rabid pack I could feel the blood spurting from inside my thigh; I knew if I didn't concentrate on stopping the flow immediately I would be dead within a few minutes. And so as one of the gangstas walked in my direction, fearless, tauntingly, slapping his right fist into his left open palm, I shouted "please don't do this. Run for Christ's sake; Run!" He only smiled and took another step. And then I shot him. God help me, I shot the boy-man not once, but twice; as the first bullet only slowed him. The second laid him down, and sent the rest scurrying for their assorted dumpsters.

As I howled in pain, shoving a finger into the wound so as to stop myself from draining completely, the boy who had been the object of the night's terror crawled to his feet and slowly jogged off, leaving me to die unthanked and alone. And while each heartbeat forced a grunt from me, and my vision slowly clouded, I thought about the consequences of my decision to assist a stranger in dire straits; and whether there truly is an answer to this dilemma. Was I right or wrong to have been my brother's keeper? Should I have walked away and thanked my creator that it wasn't me under the boot? Just accept the laws of survival of the fittest and leave the moralizing for the priests? Or was I correct until the end; once threatened at the last should I have simply dropped the weapon and accepted my death as a martyrdom for a righteous cause.

I knew only one thing for certain; I am no longer special. I am only human after all.

1 comment:

  1. Being human can be wondrous.

    I find this is especially so when in the company of storytellers.