Archive - August 2007
You Want Me To What?
You know how trauma victims forget most of what happened to them immediately before and during whatever their traumatic event was? Then, they get flashes of memories. That happens to me sometimes. My traumatic event? College. You’ve heard me refer to it as my “Grey Period.”
Okay, so it wasn’t really traumatic in the sense of an airplane crash or pillow-fight gone horribly wrong, but I did do untold damage to my brain cells, perhaps as much as people who’ve been in a low-grade coma or who watched “Blossom” for more than three minutes. I had one of those flashes recently.
According to the memory, I used to own a handgun. That I actually remember because it was stolen when I lived in Atlanta. I had the handgun when I was in college, too. In retrospect, this was not a good idea. (Have you ever noticed how “in retrospect” tends to never precede a joyous moment or event? Weird.) A bad idea mainly because of the drunken reprobates that were omnipresent during this time. Or, as you might call them, my friends.
This gun story revolves around it falling into the hands of the Raleigh Police Department. It happened while I was away one spring break in fabulous Charlotte, N.C. I phoned my apartment to inform them I would not be returning as planned and would be a few days late. (I had found a girl willing to have sex with me, and these opportunities were simply too precious to pass up.) A man picked up the phone on the other end.
Me: “Uh. Who is this?”
Man: “Raleigh Police Department.”
Me: “(gulp)Uh. Is Mike there?”
Mike was one of my roommates. My other roommate had committed suicide while we were gone, shooting himself with my gun. (Okay, I understand that this is actually the polar opposite of funny, but I felt the need to explain why my gun was in police custody rather than let your imaginations run wild.) I spoke with the police for a few minutes, giving them details about the pistol and was told they would take it into custody and would call when I could pick up. I said, “Okay.”
A couple of months later I got a call from a guy in the evidence room that my pistol was released and I could come pick it up. I said, “Okay.”
I drove down to the Raleigh Police Department and parked my motorcycle on the sixth floor of the adjacent parking structure. (NB This part was a tad nerve-wracking in that I did not actually have a license to drive a motorcycle. A fact that had not stopped me from driving it for over a year, but I was, as it were, driving into the Lion’s den. I suppose I could have driven my car, but I did not have one.)
Inside the police station, I located a directory that indicated the evidence room was in the basement, a three minutes elevator ride down seven stories. I nodded politely to the dozen or so officers who came and went, silently repeating my mantra, “Just be cool, man.” I’d had it since high school and it seemed to work, given my astonishing lack of an arrest record.
The doors finally opened on the basement and a quick right turn deposited me at the counter for the evidence room. I told the man what I was there for and showed the requisite ID. He disappeared for several minutes and returned with my gun, pulling the evidence tag off it as he laid it before me.
I slid my backpack off and pulled out the box the gun had come in. I slowly, oh so slowly, reached for the gun and placed it in the box, then began to return the box to my backpack, where it would have stay for the ride home. It was then that the officer looked up from his paperwork.
“You can’t do that.”
“Put that in there.”
“Your backpack. You put it in there, it’s a concealed weapon.”
I pulled the box out of my pack and zippered it up, tucking the box under my elbow for transport.
“It can’t be in there either.” He pointed at the box.
I stared at him.
“How am I supposed to get it out of here?” I asked.
I was sure I had misheard him.
“What?” I managed. “How?”
“In your hand,” he said.
At that instant, my pulse doubled. Here I was, in the basement of the police station, seven stories below my escape. My long hair pulled back into a ponytail and tangled from the ride over. Torn jeans, combat boots, and a ratty denim jacket partially covering the crude saying on my t-shirt. (I was 21 at the time, and was sure that society had the right to be informed, via my t-shirts, that it needed to go fuck itself. And as result, I owned no shirt that didn’t have a crude saying on it.) I looked down at the pistol, having pulled it from the box and placed it back on the counter. It was a Smith & Wesson .38 with a four-inch barrel and .357 grip, but right then it looked like a bazooka. I stared incredulously at the myopic man who had just handed down my death sentence. Carry the gun through the police station, up seven stories and out into the parking deck where all the cops parked? Me? Who on my best day looked like a petty criminal? This could not end well. I was about to die. But it would be quick. A hail of standard-issue gunfire would riddle me as I uttered my last words, “No! Wait…”
I took the pistol and opened the cylinder, hoping that someone would notice it can’t possibly be loaded. I pinched the grip between my thumb and forefinger and held it low and far away. I took a deep breath and let it go slowly, savoring what was sure to be my last taste of oxygen free of blood and gunpowder. I headed for the stairs.
It was seven flights, but I would be damned if I was gonna take the elevator and have the doors slide open on a hallway full of cops who look up to see my scrawny ass standing there with a wild look in my eyes (fear), holding a pistol. The stairs proved me well and soon I was standing outside the door to the sixth floor where my freedom awaited. I tried to catch my breath from the climb, but my two-pack a day habit was hampering my efforts. Finally, I could wait no more.
I pushed the door open. The hallway was empty. Thirty feet away, I could see it. The corner around which was the walkway to the parking deck. I walked deliberately, holding my breath. The gun was still dangling from my fingers like a 1950’s housewife carrying a dead mouse out of her kitchen by its tail rather than wait for the exterminator because by God she had to get the Apple Brown Betty ready for the bake sale. I was so close. Two more steps. I wheeled around the corner and glanced over my shoulder. The corridor was still empty. I was home free. I turned my head around and stopped short.
Seven police officers looked up from their lunches and stared at me. An eighth stared from the break room microwave where he was still warming his meal. No one moved. At this moment, one of the most surprising things in my life happened. I did not, as I surely would have predicted I would, shit myself. I would guess solely because every opening in my body, right down to my pores, had slammed shut.
I backed out slowly, not breathing. The maneuver must have taken twelve minutes, because I certainly was not going to make any sudden movements. I got back in to the hall and turned around the next corner, and out into the garage. I wisely shoved the pistol into my backpack, determining that I would rather receive a citation for a concealed weapon than receive a bullet wound for carrying one in plain view.
Man, umpteen years later, and that still sucked.
I just wanted to see if this worked.
It would seem so.
Hope that helps,
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