The Bell Tolls

Even though we were raised in a pretty rundown and gang ridden section of the city, I had never seen a gun up close, and certainly hadn’t heard one go off, minus of course ones way in the distance that could be mistaken for anything. But as I stood there, the realization of the severity of the situation dawning on me, I forgot about all sense of group loyalty and started running home. Just a direct bee line, thinking that if only I could make it to the door, I would be completely fine. As I ran the few hundred feet, I heard a series of popping sounds, and at one point, the cement near my feet jumped up at me. I didn’t slow down, or change my direction, I just ran at my house.

When I got inside and slammed the door behind me, I leaned back at the door and started panting harder than I ever had in my life. My heart was racing, I could feel sweat building up on my face and body, and was shaking uncontrollably. Neither of my parents were home at the time, so thankfully they didn’t have to see me in this state. I  reached behind me and locked the door, like the fastener was going to be bulletproof. I kneeled down and put my ear against the door, listening intently, dreading hearing footsteps coming up our meager driveway. But all was silent at the moment, before screams started to break out.

I ran from the door to the living room window, and pushed aside our cheap pull down blinds, and saw the source. The mother of one of the kids in my group, stumbling in the street, arms splayed out like she was trying to crowd control a crowd that wasn’t there, and about fifty yards ahead of her, her son, laying in the street like he was taking a nap at the most inopportune time. I watched without blinking, trying to force my eyes to be able to see whether or not he was breathing, looking for signs of blood, wanting to believe he tripped in his scramble and somehow knocked himself out.

I can’t recall if I blinked before the police arrived, or when they draped the sheet over his body in the middle of the road. When my parents came home they sat at the end of the driveway, arms crossed, watching the scene unfold. They sat in that exact fashion when the police arrived and started questioning me about whether or not I had seen anything. But how could I? I was in the house all night, I heard some noises and watched from the window long after it was all done and over with. I knew nobody believed me, but I knew my fate would be much worse if I had chosen to say anything else. So I stuck to my story, and within hours the police, ambulance, and everyone was gone, save for that boys mother, kneeling on her lawn with her family around trying to console her.

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