"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Friday, October 27, 2006
in-stant Function: noun Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin instant-, instans, from instant-, instans, adjective, instant, from Latin 1 : an infinitesimal space of time; especially : a point in time separating two states 2 : all the time it takes for a life to irrevocably change
I was setting my alarm for the morning when I heard the pop, and she screamed.
I live across the highway from a long time local motel, the Evergreen. I understand that back in the 60's it was a nice place to stay. Now it's not. They cater to travelers on a serious budget, Mexican workmen and the occasional drug dealer, etc. This is not the Hilton, no sir. The only saving grace is that it doesn't fit the rest of the neighborhood.
They stay over there, we stay over here. But not that night.
Yelling was something we've learned to tune out from over there. So if there was an argument, I can't tell you. I wouldn't have noticed it.
But I know the sound of a gunshot. Even standing in my bedroom in the dark.
"AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!" a woman's voice yelled. "OH MY GOOOODDD!!!!"
I ran to the window and looked out. I could see an SUV driving slow through the parking lot, then it picked up speed and took off down the highway. The lights weren't on.
At the same time, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I'M SHOT! I'M SHOOOOOOTTTT!"
Other guests stick their heads out of their doors and tell her to shut up.
She staggers, and falls on the cold sidewalk, in the dark. And things get quiet.
Horror is something that always affects me far after the fact. By this time I was already heading for the phone and 911. In only a moment, I could hear the sirens. Things like this never happen here, and they scrambled the entire police force on call.
Cars started whipping into the parking lot within a couple of minutes, policemen getting out. I could hear the girl screaming, which was good, I had thought her dead.
We watched for about ten minutes, then I noticed an SUV pulling into the parking lot behind the policemen. It appeared to be the same one from before. It slowly pulled up, sat there, slowly backed up and did a three point turn and left.
"Isn't that the same SUV?" I asked my wife. "If it is, they don't know it."
Again, I called 911, but the vehicle was long gone.
Soon, the ambulance pulled off, siren blaring. The hospital is only two blocks away.
When things quieten down, I walk across the highway and tell them about the SUV. They take my name and address, and express thanks and surprise that I would "get involved." I am baffled by the thought that someone wouldn't.
I meet a young man who was right there when it happened, right in front of his room. He didn't really know her, but he was very concerned about her. So was I. He said the bullet hit her in the right side of the chest. I am thinking that is a good thing.
By the time I get back to my house, there is a stakeout in progress at my door. The next morning, they've been replaced with another car. Later, yet another.
Early that evening, something happens. I only see the aftermath, being gone at the time, but the motel lot is full of police cars and policemen, including one walking around in SWAT gear with a riot shield. And a big gun.
I have a friend with me, he looks and says "Can I have your house keys?"
Like my frame house and glass windows will stop anything.
But it does look like they arrested someone for something, hopefully.
Ever since, though, something has been bothering me. It felt like I didn't do enough, like I missed an opportunity.
Could I have helped medically? No.
But for some period of time, even only a couple of minutes, the girl lay on a cold sidewalk, thinking she was dying, bleeding from a bullet wound, alone, while I watched through my window across the street and waited on police, knowing the bad guys were long gone.
Maybe I could have comforted her.
Maybe I could have just held her hand.
I could certainly have prayed with her.
But I missed all of these chances. I know better. Jesus would have done these things. But I failed, and I'm not sure why.
Fortunately, I found out today that she has so far survived her wound. I imagine she will recover.
Fortune helps the brave. Terence, Phormio Roman comic dramatist (185 BC - 159 BC)