the space between

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.

10 thoughts on “the space between

  1. 8 years ago, an Internet friend of mine dreamt that we died in a robbery. We were partners in crime, a Bonnie and Clyde sort of arrangement I suppose. To quote the email that he sent to me those many years ago: “We were robbing some place and the whole deal went bad (I don’t even know why) and you said we’d be better off dead than going to jail and you promptly shot me. And as I was dying on the floor, I saw you shoot yourself”. In the post script, he added “Stay away from firearms, that irked me.” I’ve never before touched a firearm and I certainly don’t plan on starting now. I’d forgotten about this dream, but when I read your entry it came to mind.

    Your writing is very evocative, by the way. It’s as if I could close my eyes and be there. I’d wish for you to have more pleasant dreams, but if your anything like me you probably regard each dream as precious whether it is pleasant or not.

  2. how is that beautiful and touching….???

    the way he wrote it maybe…but that’s still a disturbing dream.

    anyways..
    Jai…you have such a wonderful way with words! amazing.

  3. Your stories always make me feel like I’ve lived such an incredibly protected life. Which is a tough trick considering how much of my youth I spent as a runaway…

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