I’m trying to analyze what had just happened. I am down on one knee, struggling to find strength. My phone is face up on the pavement in front of me. I can feel a surge of adrenaline, greater than anytime I can recall, pumping throughout my body. There is a dull pain radiating from my stomach. Due to a sudden weakness, I am lacking the ability to stand. I fall into a sitting position and brace myself against a car. I look down to my stomach and realize I have frightening amount of blood seeping through my sweater. Suddenly sharp agony consumes my entire body as I become aware that I have, in fact, been shot. I count two wounds. The worser of the two is located next to my right hipbone just above my jeans. The other is on my left side just below my ribs. I try to apply pressure to both. I begin to become extremely worried. I need to call an ambulance.
Reaching for my phone, Anna crosses my mind. I can hear her justifying why I should have stayed with her tonight. I should have. As I unlock my screen, I see the nine and one I had previously dialed. I should have finished dialing and hit send as that man had the gun pointed at me. They would have heard the gunshots and probably already had sent someone out. That could be the difference between my life and death in this dismal situation. I hope it isn’t. I finish dialing. Send.
The phone is mid-ring as I hastily struggle the phone to my ear. They pick up. ‘Sampson County 911, how can I direct your emergency.’ Her voice sounds angelic.
‘I have been shot.’ My level of calmness catches me by surprise. I have been shot, how could I not panic? ‘I’m in the parking lot of the “Sunny Glen” Apartments. Right off of Hawthorne Avenue.’
‘We will send an ambulance immediately. Stay on the line.’ I feel a level of relief drape over me. I feel light headed. ‘Where were you shot?’
‘In my stomach, twice.’ Anna. Oh, god. I need to talk to her. ‘Do you have an ambulance on the way?’
‘Sir, someone will be there shortly. How much blood have you lost?’
‘I don’t know. I’m getting pretty light headed. Dizzy.’ I realize that I may save time if I move to the main road. I have to call Anna. ‘I am going to be on the side of Hawthorne Avenue. Tell the ambulance. I have to call Anna.’
‘Sir! I need you to stay--’ I hang up. Please, relay my message. I need to talk to Anna; It might be my last chance.
I feel as though I am about to nod off. I have to stay awake. I have to stay conscious and make it to Hawthorne. It takes everything I have, every ounce of strength, every fiber of muscle and all the will I possess to pull myself to my feet. My stomach throbs in a deep, dull ache as I push my weight onto my feet. I clench my teeth and let out a low, throaty groan. Time seems to stand still and I balance myself off the car. I hear a few drops of blood hit the cold, dry concrete. A deep breath turns to a long, exasperated sigh before I focus my gaze across the parking lot to my destination. I tell myself if I can make it, I will be safe. I have to call Anna. I am too weak to multitask. I’ll call her when I get there. I will call her when I am safe.
Following the contour of the car for balance, I begin to walk. Each step costing the consequence of rippling misery as I shift my weight to each foot. I take a quick deep breath and whisper to myself. ‘I can do this.’ Breath in, ‘Adam, you can do this.’ Breath out, ‘You are stronger than this.’ Clenching my jaw, I focus on the goal. ‘Your father didn’t raise a quitter, Adam. Move.’ I imagine my father watching over me, cheering me on, like he did at every sporting event I ever tried. He was always there, every game, until he physically could not. I will remain strong.
A hundred feet might as well be a mile in this condition. I am almost there; one more row of the lot, about ten to fifteen feet of grass and I should be at the sidewalk. I stop to lean against a cherry-red sedan. My gut is throbbing, and all I can think about is the woman I had left behind. If I find this almost unbearable, then how must have she felt? I just left her. Karma, I suppose. But, I’m a fighter. I will make this. Without lifting my hand off my wound, I push myself from the car with my elbow. I drop my head and, looking up to the road, I really start pushing. I have almost a steady stride now. I’ve reached the grass. I just have to break the line of well-maintained shrubbery and I’m golden. I will be my own personal hero. I will call Anna. I am through. I drop to my knees. I catch my breath and pull out my phone.
Looking up and down the road I realize that there is absolutely no traffic. I find that extremely odd. Hawthorne is a major road in our city. Most days you cannot even cross without a stop light and everyone knows to stay away during rush hour. Where’s my ambulance? If there is no traffic, they should be here by now. I uncontrollably roll off my knees onto my left hip. Calling the feeling that cut through my body a shock of discomfort would be a large understatement. It just about stopped me from breathing all together.
I pull the phone to my blurry line of sight as I lay on the chilly pavement. Time to call Anna. Keeping my eyes open long enough to find her number becomes a difficult task. Finally, I get it to connect. It goes straight to voicemail. I bet she turned it off after I left. Why does she do that? She always does that, then she’ll turn it long enough to send a text just pissy enough to infuriate me but with nothing victimizing enough to complain about. I guess I’ll have to leave a voicemail. ‘...please leave me a message after the beep. ‘K, thanks!’
Beep. ‘Anna? Uh, hey, it’s Adam. Listen, well, tonight hasn’t really, um...’ I take a deep breath trying to let out some of the pain twisting throughout my voice as well as to buy time to find out how to say what I need. ‘Anna, tonight...it hasn’t really gone to, uh...Anna, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. I don’t want your last memory of me--’ Damn it. I’m making this sound like I am going to die. My fleeting alertness and the fact that I have seen no sign of rescue are really starting to tug at my optimism. ‘Anna...I just need you to know that I really care about you. Be careful. Something is off tonight. Stay home. I...love you.’ I hang up.
My last sentence left a fleeting imprint in my mind. That was the first time I had ever told Anna, let alone any other girl, that I loved her. I don’t know if it’s the lack of blood, the overwhelming fear or the very real possibility that I may actually die, but I do care about this girl. I may never see her again. There is no sign of an ambulance. I am barely keeping one eye open. Don’t fall asleep. Stay awake. Stay awake. Stay...