It Seemed Worse Than It Really Was
It seemed worse than it really was – blood was pouring down from the tip of my left thumb onto my palm and staining the cuff of my white oxford shirt. But it really wasn’t a deep would or anything, the hammer of the Glock 19 9mm handgun has simply ripped off a patch of skin when I fired it. I was obviously holding it wrong by putting my thumb back there; it didn’t occur to me in the heat of the moment that the hammer would pull back when the bullet was discharged. It did, and when it snapped back into place it took a small patch of skin with it. It was a mess, but the adrenaline made sure that at least for now it didn’t hurt much. I guess I should have taken the time to learn how to shoot the thing but no crying over spilt milk.
Speaking of adrenaline, I regretted not firing more than two shots into Tyler. Not because he needed them, but I just wished I had taken advantage of the opportunity to fire more shots. Then again, my thumb was a bloody mess thanks to the hammer of the Glock 19 9mm handgun pulling back and taking a patch of skin with it. The last thing I needed was to create the sort of situation where my own blood would be dripping all over the place. No doubt the police would find it and trace it back to me. They probably would not buy my story as to why Tyler needed to die.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Tyler had become an antenna. We’d be at lunch somewhere, having a perfectly reasonable conversation, and he’d suddenly start repeating words in this trancelike, monotone voice: “Arbor…truce…subjective...ignore…violet…mucus…retention…caustic…evaluate…” and so forth, for about three or four minutes. Then he’d snap out of it and resume the conservation just like nothing had happened. But I knew, man. That was no random sequence of words, Tyler was an antenna. It was code. Part one of the code that was being picked up by Tyler and transmitted to somebody else. Me? Perhaps.
I don’t know what the code meant. If I did, it would be too late. To understand the code is to carry out its instructions. Maybe I was to become a transmitter like Tyler, unwittingly passing the code on the main target. Maybe I was the main target and would begin the countdown to things once I got the code. I knew our only chance was for me to blast Tyler before he got to part two.
So that’s what I did.
I left him there in his car, bleeding, just like me, except worse. I ran down 4th street towards a gas station, hoping to find somebody who would tell me that I did the right thing.
I got to the gas station and there was an old black man behind the counter, the tag on his blue gas station vest revealed him to be “Otis”. Otis looked at me, and then my thumb, still bleeding like crazy from the gun.
“You blasted him, right?” Otis asked me. “He was an antenna.”
I smiled. “I didn’t enjoy it, but you do what you have to do.”
Otis nodded and bit his lower lip. “What now, partner?” he asked. “They know about you now, and Tyler was not the only antenna. They made sure of that.”
“It’s a fuckin’ Catch-22 man.” I said. “You can’t identify an antenna before a transmission, but once you are exposed to a transmission, you might be under its influence.” I paused, my mind forming a disturbing thought. “Perhaps I’m an antenna myself now? I may have only killed Tyler because his code told me to. They wouldn’t need him anymore once I got the transmission. Shit, how can I tell?”
Otis considered this possibility. “I’m not feeling it, man. I don’t think it’s you or else I would have already killed you. Sometimes the code comes in sections over a period of days or weeks. You probably just got the first one.”
“Take care of that thumb. The police are going to be here soon and you don’t want your blood all over the goddamn place. You won’t be able to blast any antennas from a jail cell.”
I realized he was right and headed for the bathroom. I noticed there was only one other customer in the store, a very tall man who looked like he was about to pour a half-gallon of milk over his head but had stopped, his body frozen except for his eyes.
“Milk will stop the transmissions, but it will kill me,” he said in a muffled tone of voice.
I ignored him and headed into the bathroom. Once inside, I washed my hand off to remove the blood and took off my stained oxford shirt. I was wearing a tank top underneath. Before I could dry my hands with a paper towel (my thumb was still a bloody mess), there was a knock on the door. It was Otis.
“It’s okay. He poured the milk. It’s over.”
I smiled. “It’s over for today, Otis. But we cannot be sure that the transmissions have ceased. There could be more.”
Otis was silent. I opened the door to find him back behind the counter.
“Finding everything okay?” he asked.
“Sure, I just needed to take a shit,” I told him.
The tall man was gone. I looked down at my thumb. It had stopped bleeding.