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Justin Tade December 28, 2011 TWEET COMMENTS 0

A Shot in the Dark - Page 2

On November 24, 2007, I invite a friend to run that same Albuquerque trail with me the following day. Around 3 a.m. that night, I am awakened by a noise outside my bedroom window. A man is attempting to steal my pick-up. I make a terrible mistake. I throw on my jeans and march to the door.

 

I flip on the porch light, fling open the door and, unwittingly, present my body as a target.

"Hey, get the hell away ..." I don't get to finish with "from my truck, you bastards."

A man in a hooded sweatshirt pops up from behind the bed of the truck, parked 15 feet away. A rifle is at his shoulder. Fire rips from its muzzle. It roars. I duck to my left as the first bullet grazes my shoulder. The next bullet is a linebacker hitting me in the right thigh. Drilled into the cold, hardwood floor I screech, but utter not a word as I scramble to a knee, slam the door and lock it.

I stagger to my feet, slipping in my own blood, and step forward on my right leg. It collapses. The pain is foreign, a ball bat cracking the femur. I drag myself off of the floor and hop to my bedroom where I sit on the edge of the bed long enough to see the blood soaking my sheets. I slide to the floor with a splat as the warm sticky blood oozes across the floor.

My black jeans are shiny and shredded over my right leg. There is a smaller hole on the left leg. Breath comes heavily, groans emitting every second or third exhalation. I open the largest tear in my jeans—blood gurgles from a gaping crater of meat.

"Femoral," I groan and jam three fingers up to the second knuckle into the hole clamping the femoral artery between my fingers and the heal of my hand. With the other hand I dial 911. My body grows colder, my vision diaphanous, life oozing out onto the floor. I wonder about the finish line for this race and how long I will have to suffer before reaching it.

The finish line is a trauma surgery suite where, two painfully conscious hours later, I stare up into fluorescent lights, with masked trauma surgeons looking down at me. Breathing drugs through a mask, I consider the triage nurse's informed-consent warnings (death, amputation, transfusions, etc.) and wonder if I will awaken with both legs.

 

Euphoria. Theodore Roosevelt once said that there is nothing more exhilarating than being shot without consequence. I awaken in a recovery bay. Wires are connected to my chest and abdomen. IV needles puncture both arms. An oxygen tube tickles my nostrils. An electronic box chirps near my bed, but it seems far away.

 

Everything seems far away, especially the toes on my right foot ... my right foot. I have a right foot. Tears well in my eyes. I blink, wiggle my toes. I smile and shake my head while laughter creeps from my belly, up my chest and out of my mouth. I laugh at my hands that are still covered in dried blood up to my wrists. I laugh despite my inability to pull my right foot toward me, and because of the anesthetics, the shock and the fact that I am safe, warm and not alone. I laugh because I am alive. It seems absurd.

 



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