Wednesday, August 29

Here's A Shot

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See down that path, oh about two thirds of the way? Fifteen years ago at about 10 in the morning I walked along it, my frisky puppy about five feet in front, heading for the parking lot. My car was parked just about where my VW's parked here. There was a building to the right back then. Off to the left across the street is a house and some corn fields. I recall the morning was beautiful, sunny with still air painted morning gold. My dog Meghan was so cheery, frolicking along... going for a car ride, one of her very favorite things. Abruptly I leapt forward to play with her – when it happened.

Just behind my ear, off to the right I heard a SNAP! REEEEELY loud, as if a giant had grabbed a tree branch and broken it like a celery stick. I twirled that way, and my dog... rolled to the ground just off on the grass to the right. Springing up, she dashed at breakneck speed for the car... "Whuhhh?" I murmurred, there was nothing there. No trees, just a vista rolling off to the Susquehanna river maybe a mile below. I ran for to the car like a crazy man. Looking everyway. Off to the left, in the cornfields I saw a puff of smoke. But no one anywhere around. No one.... nothing moved in the quiet moment.

Down in the borough over coffee I bumped into a police detective I knew and told him about the oddness of my morning.

He went ashen, leapt up, pulled me to his car and siren screaming flashed back to this place. On the way he explained about mach speeds. “If you've ever heard a plane break the sound barrier you know the crash it makes?” he hollered over the racket of the ride. “Bullets it seems do the same, but the noise doesn't travel far... not far at all.” You have to be quite close to hear them snap... like a giant twig.

Later in the corn field they found an impression in the dirt of where the shooter hunkered himself down. And they found a casing. For some days after that friendly state troopers waited for me in that parking lot drinking their morning coffee when I arrived before sunrise to open this place. They never explained why and simply drove off when I was inside.

And I've often wondered what would have happened if spontaneously at that moment I'd not leapt to play with my doggie. Soon afterward my friend the County Sheriff insisted that I carry a gun.

Two years later business took me away from this place where I'd worked for a decade. Where every morning like clockwork I'd leave to get my morning coffee and grab the newly arrived mail in town. This is the first time I’d returned there in maybe a dozen years. It looks forlorn.

5 comments:

John Roberts said...

Scary story, Ted! I wonder if that nut is still on the loose?

Ted Byrne said...

(John) Far as I know s/he was never identified for this incident. For a week or so before the even a man left threats on my home answering machine. A night or so before it happened, someone shot bullets from a car in the street (according to the nearest neighbors) as it sped by (the building was closed for business). After this incident all of that ended. I guess I was warned.

Thing is, I'm still not certain what I was warned about. Ambiguity in assassination attempts I suppose is a lot like ambiguity in art. Um, no... it is more bothersome. Right?

advman said...

Well, I guess art succeeding is a much more pleasurable experience :)

mcmurma said...

What a freaky story. Due in large part to your tell.

When I first read this I was completely unsure as to what had happened. But then, as I read it again, more closely, it all fell into place and I understood.

I'm not not sure if you meant it to be a bit cryptic, or not. But I will say that I believe your skill as a writer rivals that of your skill as a photographer.

Ted Byrne said...

(Andreas) Yep, when art works it beats bullets behind your ear.

(Bill) The story of course could be long with a ton of setup and support. But I've found that stories which simply snapto my attention like celery have a way of lingering in my mind with a ton of essence to contemplate. Life is full of vignettes which rarely support a book... we seem to live a succession of scenes. And reduced to their essentials, sometimes they're interesting to other people... most often not. This one seems memorable... at least to me.

And the image seems to help it, don't you think?