The One About That Time My Friend Was Shot

A few hours after my last post, in the early morning hours after July Fourth fireworks, my co-worker and friend was shot. With an AK-47.

I got the call Saturday night. “Rahman’s been shot.”

“Say that one more time?”

Well, he’s going to be fine, excepting his shattered and shredded wrist. The wrist that was only just recovered from carpel tunnel surgery. The wrist that was already stainless steel pins and mesh on the inside, deep scars on the outside.

So, Robert and I rode the 7 out to Queens after work to see him. It took an hour and a half. The subway broke down. The bus was full. We walked. But as the sun fell over Flushing, we stepped out of the elevator bank into the silent, sterile halls of New York Hospital in Queens, ducked inside his tiny room, and saw him there: all IVs and ID bracelet, all powder-blue blankets and pillows. A tear slipped out of the corner of his eye when he saw me peer around the dividing curtain.

“I guess you guys are curious about how it happened,” he said. “I’ve been laying here going over and over it in my head, just trying to figure it out.”

He had stopped by his girlfriend’s place in Astoria to see if she was awake. She wasn’t. A few buddies of his were on a nearby stoop. They rapped a minute, then rolled. As he got into his car, he noticed a commotion, then U-turned to avoid it. His radio was blaring, so he didn’t hear the shots. Windows began popping. His cousin was hit. He saw blood. He swerved and hit a parked car. His cousin flew from the passenger seat out the driver side window. The door fell from the hinges. He heard the gunmen approaching. He tucked his cousin’s feet under his left arm and sped off. Two blocks later, he dragged his cousin back into the car, and drove to the ER. The staff was motionless at the sight of his bullet-riddled and blood-soaked car.

A few days and a few surgeries later, he lays uncomfortably in his bed, his three-year-old son snoring lightly on his chest. His cousin is off the respirator and in stable condition. The bullet had passed through his bottom, through his pelvis bone, and into his abdomen. They have spoken for the first time since Saturday morning only hours ago. They rest just a little bit easier. And so do I.

Suddenly, then, visiting hours are over, and we rise to leave. Outside, our car service is waiting. We are whisked back to our safe, neon-splashed Midtown. I walk home via the health food store, pick up a six of Stella, and sit down to write, to sort it out, to hope that it all means something, someday, to someone.

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