Unit Seven;There's Only Luck
In this article the author describes what happened to her one night and what happened to her one night and her feelings about it.
There's Only Luck
My mind went numb when I saw the gun pointing against the car window as we pulled out of the garage: This can't be happening to me. Then I felt the gun, cold, against my head, and I heard my friend Jeremy saying, "What do you want? Take my wallet," but at the time I thought of nothing.
I remember being vaguely annoyed when the gunman pulled me from the car by the hair. I remember the walk to the house - Jeremy, me, the two men with two guns. I remember the fear and anger in the gunmen's voices because Jeremy was being slow, and I remember wondering why he waas being slow. I did not realize that Jeremy had thrown the keys into the shrubbery. But I remember that sound of the gun hitting Jeremy's head and the feeling as the man who had hold of my hair released me. And I remember the split second when I realized he was looking at Jeremy, and I remember wondering how far I could run before he pulled the trigger. But I was already running, and upon reaching the car across the street, I didn't crouch behind it but screamed instead.
I remember thinking there was something absurdly melodramatic about screaming "Help, help!" at eight o'clock on a Tuesday evening in December and changing my plea to the more specific "Help, let me in, please let me in!" But the houses were cold, closed, unfriendly, and I ran on until I heard Jeremy's screams behind me announcing that our attackers had fled.
The neighbors who had not opened their doors to us came out with baseball bats and helped Jeremy find his glasses and keys. In a group they were very brave. We waited for the cops to come until someone said to someone else that the noodles were getting cold, and I said politely, "Please go and eat. We're O.K."
I was happy to see them go. They had been talking of stiffer sentences for criminals, of bringing back the death penalty and how the President is going to clean up the country. I was thinking, they could be saying all of this over my dead body, and I still feel that stiffer sentences wouldn't change a thing. In a rush all the rage I should have felt for my attackers was directed against these contented people standing in front of their warm, cozy homes talking about all the guns they were going to buy. What good would guns have been to Jeremy and me?
People all over the neighborhood had called to report our screams, and the police turned out in force twenty minutes later. They were ill-tempered about what was, to them, much ado about nothing. After all, Jeremy was hardly hurt, and we were hopeless when it came to identification. "Typical," said one cop when we couldn't even agree on how tall the men were. Both of us were able to describe the guns in horrifying detail, but the two policemen who stayed to make the report didn't think that would be much help.
The cops were matter-of-fact about the whole thing. The thin one said, "That was a stupid thing to do, throwing away the keys. When a man has a gun against your head you do what you're told." Jeremy looked properly sheepish.
Then the fat cop same up and the thin one went to look around the outside of the house. "That was the best thing you could have done, throwing away the keys," he said. "If you had gone into the house with them…" His voice trailed off. "They would have hurt her" - he jerked his head toward me - "and killed you both." Jeremy looked happier. "Look," said the fat cop kindly, "there's no right of wrong in the situation. There's just luck."
All that sleepless night I replayed the moment those black gloves came up to the car window. How long did the whole thing last? Three minutes, five, eight? No matter how many hours of my life I may spend reliving it, I know there is no way to prepare for the next time - no intelligent response to a gun. The fat cop was right: There's only luck. The next time I might end up dead.
And I'm sure there will be a next time. It can happen anywhere, anytime, to anyone. Security is an illusion; there is no safety in locks or in guns. Guns make some people feel safe and some people feel strong, but they're fooling themselves.
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