Saturday, February 24, 2007

"A Cry Went Up"

A cry went up in the middle of the crowd, then the crowd of concertgoers dispersed like the lower tier of an atomic bomb explosion. At the center of the human explosion stood Amar Flay over the body of Roddrick Leaf, brandishing a gun and a smile. I say "body" because Roddrick took one to the head and his eyes were empty.

For whatever reason, I'm always the last one to hear a gunshot. Though I always recognize what happened a split second later because of the screams and the look of panic in every other person's face. There wasn't anyone within ten feet of Amar except for a woman that was on one knee and glaring at Amare. I recognized her from around the way as someone who was always on the periphery because of the red that she used to dye her hair never occurred in nature.

From high school on, we'd run across each other everywhere the video store, to restaurants, to the movies, and even parties around my neighborhood. We never said as much as "hello," much less one word to each other. But Amar? I knew that little pendejo better than I knew half of my family. I kicked his ass way back in the fourth grade when he tried to steal my lunch, and he's had in for me ever since.

Every time we crossed paths, he'd make it a point to raise his voice or knock something over to let me know he was there. He reminded me of this little mutt that my step-mother had that used to come running down her driveway, barking and snarling. You'd clap once and stomp your feet to send the mutt scampering away. Then for the rest of the night, the mutt would be under the couch or under the table, wishing he was a pit bull or Saint Bernard so he could take a chunk out of your throat.

So here was this chickenshit who made it a point to come to a concert where everybody from every neighborhood was represented and kill one the toughest men around in cold blood. Because a dude like Roddrick wouldn't bother to feign a backhand, much less spit on a low level rat like Amar.

Amar brought the gun around to her until he noticed something out of the corner of his eye, me...the idiot who wasn't smart enough to run and was now sticking out like a tree in this receding flood of people. Who could pass up an opportunity like this? Kill a guy that you've had a grudge against for thirteen years and is now served up to you on a platter. I could see that greater than a decade of hate in his eyes as he tilted his head and aimed for me.

I closed my eyes and it wasn't my life that was flashing in front of me, but whether to charge him or run.

"You motherfu-"

There's the gunshot again and this time I heard it loud and clear. I opened my eyes and saw red spurting out of Amar's neck and he slid down like something that wasn't properly placed against a wall. "Ms. Too Redhead" was holding a gun that I guessed belonged to Roddrick and she was ready to shoot him again. Amar was as gone as Roddrick and if he did get as far as Saint Peter, I don't think those last two choked off words were going to help Amar get past the pearly gates.

Ms. Too Redhead looked back at me and I finally said "hi" to her...and no more. I turned without waiting for a reply or saying so much as a "thank you." I didn't want to give her the impression that I recognized her or that I was going to testify. As a matter of fact, my only concern was getting out of there so I wouldn't be put in the position of saying anything.

On my way through the crowd and to home, I didn't contemplate how they got the guns past the metal detectors and what passed for security, nor did I wonder if Amar had a legitimate beef with Roddrick. I was just happy to be in one piece and alive, and I was wondering just what did Ms. Too Redhead's voice sound like.

Note: Where the fact crossed over from the fiction, was a shooting at a rap concert I was at, but I was yards away from the event. For better or worse, I've been around three shootings and it has taken me more than a few seconds to realize just what had transpired.
JJ's starter sentence was, "a cry went up..."

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