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Fourteen year old Jimmy Williams knew it was bad when he turned the corner on James Street and saw the ambulance. He lived with his grandmother there and had been nothing but grief. He always gave her such a hard time, but she never just put up with it. She loved him and was always full of good advice.
Be a good boy Jimmy, God don’t like ugly.
We ain’t got much, but we got each other and God.
If life knocks you down boy, you stand up. If it knocks you down again, you stand up taller.
He would listen to all her morning preaches so that when she turned her back he could steal money from her purse. He had never realized that her preaching days would come to an end.
He watched and waited for about an hour and wondered what the hell where they doing in the ambulance. He did the best he could to sneak a peak. He edged up closer to the red glow of the ambulance’s emergency lights, and then he stared for a moment at the frenzied paramedics in the rear.
Jimmy Williams saw a pair of legs buckling in slow repetition and a glimmer of hope lit up in his eyes. He watched the paramedics struggle as they began working a device that greatly constricted the blood flow to the lower extremities; thereby maintaining the blood pressure in the head and torso. They were trying to hold onto life until they could get to the emergency room at BridgeportHospital.
“Going into shock!” shouted the lead paramedic.
“We can’t stabilize!”
“Don’t die on me you bastard! Don’t die on me!” the lead paramedic continued as he worked effortlessly to maintain life.
Jimmy Williams looked up and down James Street and realized something odd and sad. There were no neighbors watching, no people creating a crowd. No one there was witnessing the death of his grandmother. There was no one around but cold empty silence.
He felt his heart break and there was nothing he could do about it. He couldn’t take back all the heart-aches he caused. He couldn’t take back the stealing and he couldn’t take back her cries in the night. He couldn’t pray with her after every meal no matter how skimpy. The time he spent with her was so badly mutilated that maybe death wasn’t such a bad thing.
He was going to pray to God for the first time in his life, until he spotted a heavyset black woman carrying a grocery bag in her left hand and a large gray hand bag in her right. She was a slow walker and it wasn’t because of her weight, but her age. She saw the ambulance and she dropped her grocery bag and hand bag simultaneously as she brought her hands to her face. Her scream was piercing as it cut through the air slicing everything in its path.
She ran by him as if she didn’t recognize him and pushed her way into the ambulance. She was understandably nervous and weak as she grabbed the back of the ambulance for support.
“Are you family?” asked the lead paramedic.
“That’s my baby, that’s my grandson,” she cried.
“He was shot in the head…” he paused. “He didn’t make it.”
Jimmy Williams turned slowly around and saw a crowd of people standing in front of his porch. They were looking right through him and that’s when he realized that he was dead. There were so many people trying to comfort his grandmother while he laid in the ambulance in cold, empty silence.
© 2012 Frank Atanacio
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