My day started with a gun. I didn’t know where it came from, what it was doing on top of my backpack, or why I needed it. But, there was a message etched into its cold, black, side in peeling white-out, maybe from all the sweaty and anxious palms that have caressed it, that said “use wisely”. I took the heavy object and gently put it into the pocket of my ripped camouflage pants. Maybe the person who left this gun next to me at the bus stop saw the camouflage and thought I was in the army and could use it. I got these pants at the thrift store though. I planned on using a razor to make holes in the knees, so they could look like something expensive that I could feel snobby and rich in, even though I’m a broke painter living art piece to art piece.
I didn’t plan on using the three dollar pants to carry a gun in the pocket. To be honest, the sight of blood makes me squeamish, which is also why I have a ketchup phobia. Guns make me just as nervous. I guess you can blame movies for that. They seem to be set off so easily, they have the shortest tempers. What if this gun gets angry getting scratched against the inside of my lint-covered pocket full of pennies and gum wrappers and shoots me in my foot? The bullet would rip through my sandal and destroy my smooth brown toe skin. Getting shot is one of my biggest fears. I never thought about shooting someone else though. It’s dangerous enough being black, adding a gun to the equation is suicide (no pun intended).
But enough about my pants, and about the gun, I must follow the stranger’s message– use the gun wisely… Who will I use it on, and what will they do to deserve it?
I needed coffee to calm my nerves. I know coffee is supposed to bring you to life, but for my ADHD and me, it calms me. So, I left the bus stop and walked to the coffee shop on the corner. They sell the best cronuts and they have the best coffee beans. I fished enough wrinkled dollars and change out of my wallet to get a small coffee. I went over to the condiment station, and as I poured sugar and creamer and grabbed my stir stick to mix the minerals, instead of turning a light, sweet, brown my coffee turned a dark red and began to bubble. My hand began to shake. My palms became sweaty. The gun began to throb in my pocket to the same beat as my heart. My cup was filled with blood. Dark, red, blood that smelled like a collision of metal, salt, the grime under my fingernails, and sugar.
My hand began to stir uncontrollably. Fat beads of sweat escaped my body and ran away. Is this my blood? Did I black out and use the gun? The skinny, stirring, stick snapped in half in my hand and knocked over my heavy, small, cup of blood making it splatter all over my abdomen. Is someone pulling prank on me? Whose blood is in my cup? Is it the barista’s? Did I kill the barista with this gun? Did I kill anyone with this gun? Did the gun kill me?
I pulled my blood-soaked shirt off and wiped off my stained skin with it. Then I tied the shirt around my ears, trying to drown out the loud beating of my heart and the deafening screeching of the metal in my pocket. Then I covered my eyes to remove the blood from my sight. My heart and the gun throbbed in harmonic movements. My ears and eyes were covered, but I could still feel the blood on my hands. All I wanted was coffee! Liquid began to swim down my face. I don’t know if it was blood or tears.
“Put down the gun sir,” a hostile voice said calmly.
“I don’t have a gun!” I screamed, putting my bloody hands up in the air.
“What the fuck? I said I need the sugar, you freak,” the hostile voice said, with frightened and curious eyes, snapping me back to reality.
I looked down at my coffee. It was a smooth and cheerful light brown with splashes of its body around the base of the cup.
And the gun was still peacefully sleeping in my pocket.
Who is that lunatic? I should have thrown his hands behind his back and frisked him. But then people would accuse me of racial profiling. There’s been enough war between white cops and the black community. I didn’t want to deal with the heat I would receive for questioning this possibly dangerous, or possibly just crazy, black man. In all fairness, he did say he didn’t have a gun though. It sounded pretty suspicious to me. A person with a gun would say they didn’t have one.
Today is my first day off in the past year. After my wife left me for our dog sitter, I wanted to work to keep from clouding my mind. The chief said anger does not mix well with possessing a gun, but I have been able to control myself without ending up on the news painted as a racist monster.
I’m not racist, but there’s just something suspicious about those people. Especially this guy. He doesn’t look like he belongs in this neighborhood. I’m not saying that because he’s black, I’m saying that because of how he looks. He’s dressed in faded old camouflage pants, a too tight tee shirt, and flip flops that he probably got from the dollar store along with that dingy headband keeping his dreadlocks out of his face. He obviously doesn’t have money. He could barely afford the small coffee. So, why is he here in our neighborhood?
I better follow him and make sure he doesn’t have a gun. A police officer never has the day off.
I slowly followed behind him like a silent, sneaky, shadow, as he walked down the street. The suspect kept straight on Beecher Street then made a quick left at Amygdala. The suspect backed away into an empty and quiet alley, hidden by shadows of the buildings towering around it.
I hid behind a trash can that reeked of sour milk, sweat, and rat soufflé and continued to watch the suspect. The suspect reached into his pocket, and I could see the bulge of the gun pressed up against his thigh. His hand began to shake in his pocket.
I waited for him to pull out the gun to tackle him. I had to have probable cause for pressing his face down into the wet, dark, pavement and handcuffing his hands behind his back.
Pull out the fucking gun. I know you have one.
I slowly inched up from behind the large trash can, making sure to remain silent, and the gun slowly appeared from the confinement of his pocket. I knew it! I continued to watch silently, making sure not to startle him and get shot.
He pointed his gun at his black body, the mouth of the monster planted against the side of his head. With a shaky hand, he released his finger from the trigger making his black body drop to the ground. And I didn’t try to stop him.