Part 6: Someone Dies
Everything was going according to plan and more smoothly than I could have imagined when the worst happened. I don’t even know the logic of it nor can I explain the chain of events, but here are the steps in order:
I was getting off the train at 18th just after 9 PM, money in my pocket, when I spotted that boy (I call him Graham but that’s not his first name) stepping out of another train car. He came up to me and we decided to get a drink as we exited the station. I was dressed nicely for once and he thought it would be fun if he dressed up too so we could go somewhere fancy. “For kicks,” he says.
When he stepped back out the door of his apartment he was wearing a suit that fit him in all the right ways and he looked like James Bond and I felt like Ava Green or whatever the hell her name was. He slipped his arm around my waist, looked me in the eye, and asked shall we?
Everything was still ok at this point, and we went somewhere stupid and snobby in the West Loop because why not? We were drinking things with rye and bitters and candied cherries and I don’t know what else, but it was fun and we were laughing and one drink turned into a few, and that’s when you walk in. She isn’t with you, but still.
Of course you come right over to our table and start asking me questions like How have you been? and Where are you working? and How’s Angelica? like you’re my best friend, and all this without even looking at the boy sitting across from me. Finally he takes the first step and introduces himself to you and you size him up like you’re figuring out how much is worth more: his scalp or his body? Finally you shake his hand and give your full name—your full name!—like you are someone, like you do things. I put an end to the conversation because I don’t know what you’ll do if this goes on. You go to the bar to meet your friends and I’m left to explain things to this boy who still looks like 007 but who’s looking at me like I’m the villain now.
Whatever I end up saying is the wrong thing, and Graham starts to get up so I try to stop him. I’m talking quickly and it makes sense to me but somehow the words aren’t going across the divide so I start saying them louder which makes him say what he was saying louder and next thing I know the waiter is holding me by the arm and walking me to the door. I have whiskey on my dress and some on my elbows, but I don’t remember spilling anything. The upended tumblers on the table tell a different story. Outside I try to dry myself off, but then he comes out and touches my arm to say Let’s go this way, and we start walking down the alley in the kind of silence that feels like an apology but tastes like rust.
When we’re far enough from that stupid bar he grabs my hand and presses it and I know we’ll be ok. I realize my heels are making more noise than I was aware of before and that’s when some guy steps out from the dark. I don’t know where he came from but he’s standing in front of us, blocking our way, asking for my purse and our cell phones with one hand, and gripping a small black gun in the other.
For a half second time stops completely and I’m frozen and Graham is frozen and so is the man with the gun, but then time catches up to us and speeds past us to make up for what it lost. I don’t know what’s happening now but there’s commotion and I feel my body moving and someone grabs my arm and I collide with someone else and there’s a deafening pop like a gunshot.
I look down and Graham looks down, and there’s a growing pool of hot dark blood seeping from the man’s head onto the pavement. His eyes are stuck open, staring at the sliver of night peeking through the top of the buildings, but he’s not really seeing it because he’s stone dead that’s for sure.
We’re running now, down the alley toward god knows what, but I can’t feel anything, can’t feel my legs moving or my heart beating, and only know I’m running not flying because of the sound my heels make when they smack the pavement. Then the ground gets closer and closer and I’m on all fours with gravel in my palms. I may have cried out, I’m not sure, but without missing a beat Graham turns back and grabs my arm to pull me back to my feet.
We continue down the alley and it’s then I realize I’m holding the gun. I can’t remember if it was me who pulled the trigger or him or how I got it or why it feels like an extension of my own hand, but I grip it tighter and we run until I feel like my lungs will burst if I take one more step. There’s a covered stairway up ahead so we come to a halt and collapse onto the cement to catch our breath.
We’re looking at each other, breathing hard under the yellow light but not saying anything. I look down and notice that my knee is bleeding through my tights from when I fell. He sees it too, and asks me if it hurts. I tell him it doesn’t and we both ignore the gun in my hand.
He moves down one step and tears a little hole in my tights at the knee so he can dress the wound. I brush off the little stones and debris, but it still looks pretty ragged. He takes a handkerchief from his pocket, dabs off most of the blood, then folds it a different way and ties it tight around my knee. It’ll do for now is what he tells me.
Then he wraps both arms around me and I lean my head on his shoulder and we stay that way for quite some time. There are sirens in the distance and I’m thinking about my mother. The sirens get closer and closer and I’m so sorry, Mom. I’m so so sorry and Graham is gripping my shoulders more tightly until finally the sirens wail past us and it’s all over..