Incident Report

I saw him stumble across the parking lot just as the sun was going down. He shimmered in the reflected light off the office building as he paused for a moment before he stooped down to pick up something off the ground. I had to squint so much that, for a second or two, his outline blurred and flared, giving him a ghostly hue. He walked slowly on to where the parking lot joined a gravel street behind some apartments.

I’m not sure why I followed him. It wasn’t logical and it certainly was a bit strange, but I did it anyway. I stayed back about twenty yards and watched as he haltingly moved along the street, scraping rocks with his tan work boots. I thought he might have seen me when he glanced over his shoulder, but he kept on walking towards the unlit end of the road. As he crept closer, I realized there was a parked black car waiting about ten yards off the street with the lights and engine off. It seemed odd given the cold temperature, but he walked right up to it and rapped loudly on the passenger window. I stepped back instinctively and I heard the window roll down. The man was blocking my view of whoever was sitting in the front seat, but I could hear two voices.

I froze when the shot rang out. A sharp crack with no reverberation-totally different than what you find in the movies. The man rocked side to side for a moment then dropped to the ground. The car started up and peeled out, barreling right past me.

The driver, an ashen-faced man with no hair who had to be at least seventy, glanced over at me as he sped by. My body was filled with an enormous rush of terror that locked me to the ground. As he bottomed out his car speeding away from the parking lot back out onto Golden Avenue, I raced back to my car and jumped in, unsure of which way home I should take.

I took a deep breath and realized that I should call the police. It was the responsible thing to do. Then I thought about what I would say. I started my car and drove off as fast as my shaking body could manage towards my apartment. I fumbled for my phone, but I couldn’t do it. Surely someone else heard the shot? The thought repeated over and over as I drove and then drifted away as I parked my car at home. I could smell dinner from the open window in my kitchen as I walked up the steps. I stopped at the front door and turned my phone off. He was a stranger and I was a man who had no business being there. I had a wife who was expecting me to walk in and be the man who left for work that morning. So, this description will have to suffice. It’s all I can do.

© 2021 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.

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