The first time I saw someone get shot I was about 16 or 17 and had moved into my San Francisco neighborhood the year before. SF’s Mission District at that time, was a little bit like the wild west. Gangs, shootings, stabbings, trash everywhere, needles, heroin addicts nodding off standing up, while trying not to spill their coffee. I guess there were police but there was just too much for one police department to be proactive on.
I was so numb from my childhood I barely noticed and found the danger comfortable and it did not disturb me the way I think it should have. I skateboarded through the neighborhood with my neutral colored hood up, no red or blue, hoping I would be confused for a guy and be left alone.
I worked in a kitchen until late at night and skateboarded my favorite spots, and bombed empty hills for hours after. During the day I would eat burritos and sometimes I’d draw in my room of the apartment I shared with a friend of my older sister and her nurturing and tough lesbian friends.
On this day it was maybe 2 or 3 pm and very warm and sunny. I had the day off and had just picked up a veggie burrito with big chunks of avocado tucked into the greasy rice. I skated diagonally across the street to the corner store to grab a Snapple– Kiwi Strawberry, my favorite.
I don’t know if I didn’t hear the gunshot because of my skateboarding or the actual shooting occurred in a building somewhere and had been muffled. But I almost ran into the victim as I skidded to a stop outside the store.
He was a kid too, but older than me, maybe twenty or twenty one, a white guy with a white ribbed tank top on. His hand was lifting up his shirt exposing a perfectly round bullet hole on his lower left side of his torso. The hole was bloody but it was not gushing like you see in the movies, I don’t know why. But his t-shirt he was holding was full of blood so maybe he had just wiped it away a second earlier.
He was in shock and pacing outside the store repeating over and over again. “I got shot, someone shot me. Somebody shot me.” The store owner came out and helped him to sit down in the shade on the sidewalk. Sirens could be heard very far away.
I didn’t buy my kiwi lemonade. I just skated home and ate my burrito on the stairs outside my apartment.