Guess Who's Got A Story...
Well, not just me…
You wanna hear the story? Too bad, I'm telling it anyway.
Every night… okay, you got me – almost every night, I take a walk down Venice Blvd. Earlier tonight I, thankfully, had some friends along with me.
So it's about 3 a.m. and Cash, Will and I are walking east on Venice Blvd., talking about the fundamental difference between Western political thought and Middle Eastern political thought* – no joke. We're crossing one of the smaller side-streets when I notice a guy walking up that street towards us. He turns to go west on Venice but then quickly bends around and starts walking about 15 feet behind us. My compatriots and I continue talking. I'm trying to keep my posture to them open enough to allow me to keep this guy in my peripheral vision – not because of any sense that "ooh, this guy is bad news" but more because of… well, I don’t know why, I just am. But he’s following us for longer than the normal "Hey, can you spare some change?" guys do. And then:
"Hey, any a' you guys got a dollar?"
I immediately stop. I'm always good for a dollar.
"Sure, man," I say. "I got-"
I reach into my pockets and am feeling around when I think "Oh shit."
Now normally I have almost everything on me: my ID holder, my cash, one of my lighters, my iPod, my phone… but not tonight. Tonight, for some reason, I've left everything behind. All I have are my cigarettes, a book of matches, my apartment keys, a small notebook and it's accompanying pen.
"Ah fuck, man," I say. "I'm sorry. Normally I do but I left everything back at my place. You want a cigarette?"
I'm taking out my cigarettes when I see that he's just staring at me.
"Nah," he says.
"'Nah'? Wow, this is the first fucking time a person has asked me for money and not taken a cigarette when I offered it."
That's what I'm thinking as Cash extends a dollar to him.
"Here ya go," says Cash.
The guy takes the dollar and then turns to me and says "Yeah, I'll take a cigarette."
Yeah, that's what I thought. I take out 2 cigarettes because, shit, I feel bad I don't have a dollar for the guy. I hand him the cigarettes and turn to continue walking when he goes "Hey you."
He's looking at Cash.
We all stop.
"I'ma take everything," he says.
I'm thinking: "Is this really happening? What's he gonna do? There's three of us so unless he's got- oh, there it is."
Out comes the pistol.
Now I'm thinking: "Nah, that could be fake, I mean-"
He pulls the hammer back.
The new thought: "Ah shit, that was metal."
Here's the next series of thoughts (keep in mind, these flash by in the amount of time it takes Cash to stare at the guy, think better of telling him 'no', and then drop his money on the ground):
1. "I'm glad he's pointing the pistol directly at Cash."
2. "I hope he doesn't point it at me and plug a few into my stomach."
3. "Oh man, that's gonna suck. What a terrible phone call to make to my parents in a few hours – 'I got shot in the stomach.'"
4. "Mr. Orange… man, that shit's bad."
5. "Is it really as bad as they made it seem in the movie? Probably worse."
6. "I could drill him. Fuck, if I had a pistol, he’s not even looking at me, I could get three in him right now if only-" **
"All you," he says, "put everything down. Everything."
My hands are still in my sweatshirt pocket from replacing my cigarettes so I just pull ‘em right back out, put the cigarettes, the matches and my notebook on the ground and turn out the one empty pocket of my jeans (the other pocket still has my keys in it – I figure he doesn’t need my keys.)
Now, for some portion of all this the gun's been aimed at me but I only catch glimpses of it - my brain is either blocking it out or I've stopped paying attention during whole sections of this robbery.
"That’s everything, man," I lie.
"Turn and keep walking," he says.
I think: "Oh, okay, it's over. Nice."
I start walking, Will is right beside me, Cash is lagging behind a bit. This is where the first real fear comes - I can't see him or where he's pointing the pistol. I'm praying that the guy doesn't shoot us in the back. Not praying to God directly, more like just thinking in a very pleading tone.
After about a block, Will turns down one of the side-streets. I look behind me to see Cash, already on his phone, beside Will. Will takes out his phone and calls to have his credit cards cancelled. My phone is still in my apartment. So instead of calling anyone I first thank my lucky stars that I'd left everything in my apartment and then start to question why I'm not the least bit nervous; why was hearing the pistol cock the only thing that slightly jangled me; and why my first instinct is to look at Will, laugh and say "Wow, that was fucking awesome! I mean it sucked but, you know, it was pretty awesome."
-- The police came, kind of took a report and told us we had to walk back to my apartment. Yes, they wanted us to walk right through the area in which we had just gotten mugged. Thankfully, Mark came and picked us up.
-- Will was upset that he had dropped his wallet at the last minute after the guy appeared to be letting us go.
-- Cash was totally nonplussed by the whole thing even though he had the pistol pointed at him the longest.
-- I got to keep my pen.
*This is a problem Will had explained to me earlier.
**I plan to discuss my views on the order of these thoughts in a subsequent column.
Originally Printed on 3/23/06 - 3 hours after the incident
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