The dreams have been coming back, recently, in a way I haven’t felt in many years.
Last night I watched a man die.
We were in a store, in the middle of a firefight between cops and robbers. I was crouched between two big freezers, well-covered and out of sight. He was standing in front of me, looking down, oblivious to the arms fire all around us.
We watched each other. We gave everything we were to each other in that moment, because we knew how precious it was.
We had lived this before, you see.
Three nights ago, I watched a man die.
We were in a store, in the middle of a firefight between cops and robbers. I was crouched down against a wall, exposed and in the line of fire. He was shooting at the robbers, along with the men from his station.
I watched him. I gave everything I had to him in that moment, because I knew how precious life was.
It didn’t make a difference, you see.
He survived the firefight, but slipped while attending to one of his men. He fell onto a pile of broken glass from an overhead display, and then the floor was the brightest crimson I had ever seen.
The paramedic did what he could, considering the circumstances. He couldn’t get a vein, he couldn’t open the bags, he couldn’t break the seals. Later, he remarked, “It was like God wanted this man to die, and wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
Last night, I went to the store. I brought my purchase to the counter, and saw the robbers walk in through the mirror in the corner. I knew where I was. I knew what was going to happen. The details might change, but the outcome would be the same.
I started walking towards the back, looking for somewhere to hide. Things were happening faster, this time. I heard a shot behind me, and I knew the shopkeeper was down. I managed to fit between the freezers, and kept my head down.
I heard the police come in. I heard them yell useless words of negotiation. I heard the firefight start.
When I looked up, I saw him standing over me, between the white men with guns and the black men with guns. He had been there with me. He knew what happened. He knew he was already dead.
We watched each other for a lifetime, and there was no space between us.