March 08, 2010

He Put A Gun To My Head

A friend described me as being consistent in my inconsistencies, a dichotomy of personalities. I can switch gears very quickly. I go from play to business and back to play in just a moment. Call it moody, call it cranky or just call me a curmudgeon. It doesn't matter. The reality is that I am who I am and the quiet passivity you sometimes see masks the man who will rip off of your head and kick it into the street.

Do you remember when the banking industry introduced ATMs. The automatic teller was a wondrous convenience. No longer would you have to go inside the bank and wait in line for your money. Suddenly it was a two minute procedure and the height of convenience. 

Unfortunately the convenience for some became a siren call for malfeasance. You no longer visited certain ATMs because there was no interest in having to pass along your hard earned cash to some low life. At least that is how some people looked at things, there were those others who considered themselves to be bullet proof.

I was one of them. A twenty-something man who feared no one. In the prime of my life I hadn't any reason to be concerned. Bruises, strains, and bumps were momentary inconveniences. No real responsibilities meant that I had ample time to spend in the gym. My body was taut and toned. My cardiovascular system had never been despoiled by smoking.

When you took that hard body and screwed on my hard head it made for an interesting combination of young, dumb and stupid. I went where I pleased because I knew that anyone who made the mistake of accosting me would find themselves in dire need of a visit to a chiropractor.

My youthful naivete is really what saved me. When I felt that gun against my temple I wasn't smart enough to be afraid. The thought of dying didn't even register. No, what did was irritation followed by extreme anger. What the fuck did this asshole think he was doing. Not only was I not going to give him any money, I was going to take that gun and shove it so far up his ass he didn't dare belch for fear of blowing away his lips.

Things didn't exactly work out the way either of us planned. As I turned to face him he used the butt of the gun on the side of my head. At least, I think that is what happened. I am not really sure, but I do know that I was surprised to find myself on the ground.

I am sure that he was even more surprised when I responded by using my right hand to try and turn him into a modern day eunuch.

Together we rolled around the ground. Each one of us fighting to gain the advantage on the other. Something hard kept slamming into my kidneys. Each time I felt pain shooting inside me, but I refused to let go of him. I could hear someone screaming in anger, but I couldn't make out what they were saying. I was too busy trying to separate his arm from his shoulder.

The scuffle felt like it took hours, but the tape from the ATM showed it wasn't more than five minutes. It even showed the swing I took at the police officers who tried to break up the fight. Note to self, it is not wise to hit a cop because they will respond.

The justice system in this country is funny and not in the "I can't stop laughing sense." When it was all said and done I looked like I had driven my car over the side of Laurel Canyon and he was comatose. The D.A. said that it was self-defense and that I wouldn't have to worry about it, but his family claimed otherwise and filed a multimillion dollar civil case against me.

That was seven years and more than $1 million in legal fees ago. The story is not nearly done. It is not over by a long shot. His mother has sworn to see me "go down hard" and she has the money to pursue this.

Maybe I should have handled this differently. We don't always see how the actions we take in our youth can follow us into the future. But you cannot screw an old head on young shoulders and life is what it is.

What can I tell you, he put a gun to my head.

(This was a work of flash fiction. I wrote it in 22 minutes. It hasn't been edited and appears in its original format. Originally posted here.)

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