Life is so Fragile MAG

October 5, 2011
By Mike Friedman BRONZE, Somewhere, Alabama
Mike Friedman BRONZE, Somewhere, Alabama
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Life is so fragile and death so final. These truths were demonstrated early in my childhood. The experience was quite traumatic, and I’m sure it has affected me in ways I cannot even imagine.

I’d like to be able to say that it was a dark, gray, heavily overcast day with large rain clouds hanging low over our aging two-story suburban house. But that would be untrue and a bit too wordy. It was actually a fairly clear day, totally devoid of any meteorological foreshadowing. Mother Nature is not melodramatic.

I was out on the street, talking to some neighborhood friends. I was just about to take them to the woods to see a fort I had discovered. We were standing across from the Wilkson residence, a bright yellow two-story house with a nicely cared for lawn full of long, healthy grass. Mrs. Wilkson was placing a broken blue bicycle by the curb to be picked up by the town.

Then, all of a sudden a black car with red plush seats pulled up and an old man wearing a suit got out. He had a shotgun. The old man’s hair was white and sparse, barely covering his head. He got out of his car and started to shoot at Mrs. Wilkson while slowly advancing toward her across the beautiful lawn. The sound of the shotgun firing was not loud; it seemed to be nothing more than a slight puff in the suddenly still air. Mrs. Wilkson screamed. She raised her hands to her head and started shaking violently. She made a mad dash for her garage while the old man sent bullets chasing after her.

My friends and I stood watching, struck dumb. Finally, one of us started to run. The rest of us followed. I ran, but kept my eyes on the old man who was screaming and holding his shotgun. He stood on their beautiful lawn and raised the shotgun to his chest. He pulled the trigger and fell backwards with a horrible scream, the sounds filling the deathly quiet street. His scream was not manly and deep, but the high pitched wail of a man in utter desperation.

I did not see him hit the ground. I turned my head and ran as fast as I could, putting all my energy into getting away from the old man with shotgun.

The police came and went, taking the old man’s body with them. But they could do nothing to take the fear and awful memories that haunt us still. Fortunately, Mrs. Wilkson made it to her garage unscathed. Surprisingly little was said about the incident afterwards. And the next school day, our carpool drove right up the Wilkson’s driveway and took the two Wilkson children to school. I looked out of the car window at their well-cared-for green lawn and could see the impression in the grass where the old man had lain and the reddish-black stain of his blood clinging to the beautiful stalks of dark green grass.

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