No Guns, No Gore




 I don’t know when he died.  On the way to the hospital? Dead on arrival? Or minutes after he was carried out of his car.  I don’t know anything about this man, who was ambushed on the main road and was conscious enough to drive away from his attackers, turn into my street - a necessary detour because the road ahead, the one he was on, was under construction.  He managed not to plow into anyone or anything in the narrow street before finally (intentionally?) ramming the side of his car into an abutting edge of wall, carving out a small chunk of concrete.   He must have slowed or dropped gears fast enough so that the car didn’t crumple on impact or careen off like a billiard ball.

I didn’t see all these.  All conjecture on my part.
What we heard was a loud thud.  I actually heard two – the first like the sound of tires jumping off the pavement and landing with a thud, then another that sounded like something hit.  I rushed to the window, the brother rushed to the gate, thinking a car accident and someone needing rescue.  Mom followed him but he hesitated, and then barked at us not to go out.  From our window, I saw why:  the heavily tinted windows on the driver’s side and the back were riddled with bullet holes.  We waited two beats, the brother wary of whatever bad thing yet to follow.  Somebody showing up to finish whatever was not.  You watch enough cop shows and read detective novels and you get a healthy bit of paranoia.  In three beats, I was calling the barangay office and the police to report what happened.  The first one asked a lot of questions I don’t have answers to.  The other gave me another number to call.  The good thing, the guy on that end was brisk and efficient. I presume somebody else must have called, supporting my story, since there weren’t as many questions.

I was asking for medical help fast, whoever was in the car might still have a chance.  While I was talking on the phone, a crowd had gathered.  There was police (traffic)  but they don’t have equipment to cordon off the crime scene.  It took a while before a group showed up.  They were friends of the guy in the car.  They were members of a gun club, driving home after a shooting competition in another barangay.  I heard somebody say, “He is still breathing”.  I was mentally urging unnecessary people to get out of the way (the usis – hanging about so they can say they were there, curious people).  I was mentally urging the guy to hang in there and for his friends or police to take him to the hospital right quick.  I heard somebody calling him “Michael”, repeatedly, telling him not to let go, that he’ll make it.  I saw “Michael” finally – just a flash of a head of hair, a side of his face with a thin trickle of blood.  I couldn’t look for long.  I couldn’t think about anything other than he looked too young to die and where was the ambulance - there never was one when you need it.

Later, I was concerned about people corrupting the crime scene.  It was dark when the SOCO (scene of the crime operatives) came to investigate.  There was a SWAT team earlier, with guns.  Word on the street was, Michael was ambushed on the bridge leading to the main road, with his attackers shooting through the windows – some “witnesses” said they were on foot, others said they were on motorbikes.  Absolutely premeditated.  Michael was from out of town.  He was just passing through. There was a lot of talk but I didn’t go out to listen.  I’d see it on the news soon enough, though I know there won’t be footage unless someone in the crowd had it on cell phone video.  I saw some people taking pictures of themselves, smiling at the camera! Stupid, insensitive lot!

I didn’t think to videotape.  It crossed my mind,but that was it. Except for taking pictures of restaurant food with the phone cam, videotaping something like that is not second nature to me.  I am not a TV journalist anyway.  It is too depressing.  I don’t watch bad news more times than necessary.  I don’t want to zoom in on tragedy. 

It did make the news next day.  They said Michael was supposed to compete in an international shooting competition.  He had a gun then too, but things happened too fast and so unexpectedly that there wasn’t time to defend himself. What was the expression? Live by the gun, die by the gun. But that makes you think people with guns are hoods, even though they don’t look it (also word on the street: the attackers looked like “decent” people).  I don’t know Michael.  I don’t know what he did or what someone thought he did to deserve such an end.     

I am not a stranger to guns.  I’ve held one. I had a short-lived friendship with an Earnshaw (also into the sport), who took me with him when he bought a gun (legit, permits and all).  My brother’s godfather was a policeman.  A grandfather, twice removed, was a general.  I had a boss who was a member of a gun club.  He was forever urging me to take up shooting as a sport.  He said if you own a gun, you would respect it and have the discipline not to use it on impulse.  I don’t buy it.  What are the chances of human nature not taking over and getting all trigger-happy?  It is also human nature to rationalize...afterwards.

When did it happen that there are too many guns on too many people’s hands? I don’t want anything to do with guns.  It is tempting to have one for protection.  I know the argument “it’s not guns, it’s people”.  I know everything about temperament and flaring up. You’ve heard stories about people shooting people in a pique – even over parking space, road rage. These days, there are a lot of angry and desperate people (also  "unhinged").

I don’t want a gun: there are a handful of people I’d like to shoot and more I want to scare off – like lowlifes and perverts.  Noble undertaking, right? Pick ‘em off like some vengeful hero.  Tempting.  

Despite a prayer I offered up for Michael to make it, he didn’t.  There were way too many bullet holes in that car.  The things that people do.

P.s. I thought about putting a picture of the damaged wall but changed my mind. The white flowers instead, scattered by wind, beaten down by rain.The red banca...my all time favorite picture...made me pensive and humbled, even a little sad.  We are all in the same survival boat.  Hopefully, we get to navigate in more peaceful waters. 

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. - Mother Teresa

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