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Shot down on Randolph Avenue

by dhuldhul1 

Posted: 14 April 2003
Word Count: 1622
Summary: It was the 12th of April, 2003 and I hadn’t a care in the world. The shrill sound of a little girl, screaming ‘my daddy! daddy, daddy !’ I had seen people shot before, just never one shot in the head.

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It must have been around 10pm or so. I had just walked home from a friends house at westborne park. I live in maidavale, North London. A nice area, lots of young families. Maybe it was the weather, the nice cool breeze, or maybe it was the drugs, either way, I thoroughly enjoyed the walk. The sun had set at around 8.30pm. It was the 12th of April, 2003 and I hadn’t a care in the world.

I had only been at home for about half an hour when I heard what sounded like a fire cracker go off on the street below, just outside my window. What I heard next sent shivers down my spine. The shrill sound of a little girl, screaming ‘my daddy! daddy daddy !’. I looked outside the window. Their was a man lying on the pavement and a little girl running about all over the place. I ran outside as fast as I could, only pausing for a second or two to consider whether it was safe to go out. Perhaps the gun man was still about. The screams I heard from outside made my mind up for me. I had to go out there now, and help if I could.

I had seen people shot before, just never one shot in the head. The victim, a man in his early forties was lying flat on his back, just inches from the curb, his groceries scattered on the floor next to him. I think I saw a bottle of milk in one of the bags. A pool of blood had began to develop under his head. The blood was thick, almost flesh like. I knelt by him as more people gathered round. I had been trying to call an ambulance as I ran out of my apartment but with no luck. I was relieved to see that someone had already placed the call and was giving descriptions of the mans state and injury. All I could do was keep talking to him, trying to keep him awake. That was all anybody could do. The stalky man that stood over me had grabbed the victim by his collar and was shaking him, yelling ‘stay awake, just fucking stay awake, you’ll be alright.’ A young woman had joined me by his side and was holding his hand. I think everyone must have been slightly relieved when she shouted out ‘he’s squeezing my hand !’. Another lady, a pensioner most likely asked me to check his pulse. I found it easily, he had a pulse at least but I couldn’t tell if it was strong or week. The lady next to me said it was strong.

Within minutes, a woman came running up the street, weeping. It was the victims wife. Hysterical, distraught, shocked are words that still cant describe the way she looked, talk less the way she must have felt. She grabbed his head and began shaking him, screaming ‘oh please don’t leave me, please don’t leave me, please don’t leave me. We tried our best to comfort her, while at the same time screaming at the victim to keep his eyes open.

His eyes were glazed with tears but he seemed peaceful. This was what worried me the most. I began to get nervous, ‘where the fuck is the ambulance’, I thought to myself. I didn’t think he was going to stay conscious for much longer. His wife began to scream again, uttering the words that had remained in my thoughts. I said to her that they were almost hear. I could hear sirens in the distance, growing louder. We asked him how he felt. He said he felt hot. Someone from across the street had come running forth with a blanket and a jacket. I covered him up to the neck and sat holding his heaf and shoulder, occasionally shaking him, as I watched the white woollen blanket become soaked in his blood. I couldn’t believe what was happening. It was then he began to move, pulling his leg up to an angle and trying to turn on to his side. He had something in his mouth. The man on the victims right hand side opened his mouth to allow him to throw up, I tried my best to keep his head still. Once he was on his side, I saw what seemed to be the wound. The back of his head, just behind his left ear had swollen almost to the size of a golf ball. I now had his blood on my palm.

The police arrived seconds latter, even thought it felt like an hour. For his wife it must have felt like a lifetime plus one. I watched as the policeman put on a pair of surgical gloves and examined the wound at the back of his head. I kept hoping he would take the mans head from my hands. I couldn’t bring myself to release my hold. I was stunned and then I heard the cop radio in saying the words ‘massive head injury’. I didn’t think it was appropriate for the victim to be hearing this. I was the last to leave the victim when the ambulance had finally arrived. I left quietly, wiping my blood stained hand on a tree as I made my way to the front door of my building. I didn’t look back. There was no need. I merely went up stairs, sat by the window, lit a cigarette and watched as he was finally put onto a stretcher and loaded into the back of the ambulance. By now the street was swarming with armed policemen, searching peoples gardens, cars and front entrances. The road was blocked off with police tape. Within minutes of me lighting my cigarette, there were two helicopters in the air, circling the area. I heard a policeman radio in a description of the perp, male in his 30s, short black hear, black trousers, white sneakers with a black jacket. Apparently he headed of to the west, but no one saw exactly where he went. He couldn’t have gone far on foot. As I sat by the window, I called a good friend of mine and told him what had just happened. He was even more shocked than I had expected. He said to me ‘you know, its a good thing you left early when you did…I mean, it could have been you man, you know.’ I hadn’t really given this much thought and it sure as hell didn’t make me feel any better. Nevertheless, I was indeed quietly glad that it was not me lying there on the cold pavement.

I’m not quite sure how I felt the whole time. And after I left, the idea of settling back down to check my e-mails and watch some TV seemed to trivial. I may have just spent the last minutes of someone’s life, holding their lifeless head as they bled. The blood running of the pavement and down the curb. However, I was more disturbed by the fact that this guys little girl, maybe about 6 years old had witnessed the whole thing. I didn’t want to think of it anymore but couldn’t help myself. I kept imagining the little girl, holding her dads hand as they walked home, only for her to suddenly see her father drop to the floor. Even though I couldn’t get these thoughts out of my head, I felt guilty for having them. I felt as though I were being selfish. I also felt why should I be so concerned, it wasn’t my lose after all. The mans shopping bags remained on the floor for a few more hours. The pool of blood clearly visible from my window. I just wished they would clean it up immediately. I also wished that I could have helped even more. I wish I had seen something, or someone. I knew I wouldn’t sleep well that night.

The next morning, at around 11.30 or so, there was a knock on my door. It was a policeman, inquiring If I had seen anything. The neighbour said she had seen a tall black man, whom seemed very upset just earlier that evening, hanging around the street. She said he had one hand in his coat pocket as though he were holding something. I simply told the officer that all I heard was the shot, the girl screaming and then I ran out to see if I could help. I asked him if the victim had pulled through. He answered that he was still alive but obviously, as he had been shot in the head, only time would tell if he would survive his fatal encounter. All in all though, I was very impressed at how the people on the street had all come out to help. How some woman had taken the kid to her house and told her mum. How we had all tried our best to keep him conscious and warm the whole time. And most especially how everyone came forth to give a description of the perp and what they had seen. In general, the neighbourhood was out in full force, trying to help in what ever way possible. I guess that’s what good neighbours do. Everyone had been so calm and quick. Perhaps all the violence society is exposed to these days, both in reality and on Television, had adequately prepared people to handle such an occurrence, just outside their front doors. I went out later that evening. All that was left of what transpired the night before was a dark stain on the pavement, and my palm print in dried blood on the forth tree from Elgin avenue, on Randolph Avenue.

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Comments by other Members

Richard Brown at 17:52 on 14 April 2003  Report this post
Wow! True story, presumably. If it's fiction you have done a brilliant job but as a factual account it is riveting; harrowing of course but also with a heart-warming human element. I think this is a wonderful piece of reportage but it is difficult (of course) just to see it as that because of the horror of the event and the lingering thoughts about the grieving wife and child....and the effect it must have had on you and all the other 'good neighbours'. It's an interesting notion that TV violence has prepared people for the stark reality but I guess there's something in the argument that there wouldn't be so much bloodshed if it were not so gratuitously portrayed on our screens. Whatever, my guess is that all who are involved in such incidents, however case-hardened they are, suffer at least some psychological damage and, somehow, I think a sense of this comes through in this fine piece of writing.

dhuldhul1 at 18:14 on 14 April 2003  Report this post
Yes, unfortunately, this is indeed a true story. I attempted to make it as detailed as possible but of course some detail was lost in my mind due to the extraordinary nature of these happenings. I will follow it up with a fictional account of what it must have been like for the child, though of course I couldnt possibly have a clue!

Scott at 00:13 on 15 April 2003  Report this post
This was well written and really allowed us a good in depth report of what you witnessed. I think the fictional account of what it must have been like for the child will be a tough one to write since it will be hard to get into her psyche, obviously she still doesn't understand the world around her like adults do (though I think none of all really ever know what the point of it all is) and so we as adults can’t be too sure what she must be making of the whole event; such as why it is happening. Be Interested to follow your work, did well.

old friend at 14:30 on 12 September 2003  Report this post
Good, solid and strong writing.

I don't think you would have any bother to turn this into fictional writing - from anyone's point of view. You do need to edit and correct the work - in the first couple of lines there is a need for an apostrophe and a few capital letters.

As you edit you may find that there are specific words that do not convey what you want or that may be removed without too much effect on the contents. This often results in an overall improvement and the developing of a style that marks your future work... so keep on writing!

old friend, Len

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