Tuesday, January 20, 2009

nothing in '08

if you read the first post i warned you that i may slack, and boy... did i EVER. nothing written in '08 as if nothing happened. but rest assured, some shit went down. and if it weren't for a friend pointing out fuck you penguin i might have never written here again. what an inspirational site! so, thanks, my fellow penguin hating friend (i can't stand those little assholes either, by the way).

man... this job... how weird. how weird is it to laugh at that which is terrifying just because you're afraid to appear scared? how weird is it to pretend like none of this affects you... it only affects the weak? how weird is it to tell a granddaughter that you did everything you could, but tonight was his time and he's in a better place, assuming that she buys into that illusion? it's pretty fucking weird. believe me.

like the time that i got a call for a shooting in the worst set of projects in the city. these projects are not nestled into the rest of the town like some of the more updated and visually appealing loft-type, condo-looking projects. nope, these projects are well out of the eyesight of any tourist or taxpayer.

sometime in '08 i was just about to log off the system when the tones went off and my unit was summoned to respond to the shooting on the street that these infamous projects got their name. i start the rig and turn on the lights and sirens. didn't know what to expect, but i've had this call so many times that i'm not tripping. might be nothing. we pull up to the projects that look like aging cell blocks and take a deep breath. i see about six cops trying to quell at least forty people that are in the process of losing their minds. my partner and i grab our equipment and get into the center of this mess.

let me first explain the layout of these projects because they're a little unique. these projects lie on the edge of the city where no regular residences reside. they are up on a hill, away from the sight of anyone who may be driving on the street below. up on this hill there are about eight penitentiary-type buildings, each two stories, with about six or so units each. they are in an uneven circle around eachother so that there is open space in the middle with cement pathways connecting each one. in this open space are old clotheslines, broken toys, distressed bicycles, and various garbage. not pretty. there are some lights, but many of them are out, so while you can see, you have to work at it. there are no grocery stores around here and i'm guessing that most the food that these families buy comes from convenience stores. there are no schools around here. there is no hope around here... there's no way out.

we grab our equipment and walk down a steep hill to the scene. people are screaming at us to hurry. there are about six officers, all have their guns drawn and are yelling at people to "back the fuck up!" there are four firefighters, one chief, two paramedics, and six officers vs. forty extremely upset people, all of which probably aren't really big fans of "the man." i get to the patient. bullethole to the forehead. brain matter. bullet hole to the neck. a LOT of blood loss. over eight bulletholes to the legs. again, a LOT of blood loss. check a pulse. no pulse. place leads on patient. asystole. this guy is not coming back. there are no interventions that can save him.

now people are screaming at us, "what took you so long?" honestly, from dispatch to scene time... less than five minutes (i checked later, just in case). the scene was getting so nuts, and we were so outnumbered, that i honestly felt that this might me the night that i really get hurt, or worse. because we were in an open courtyard, there wasn't a wall for me to back up to, but there was a tree. i slowly walked backwards until my back was resting on this large barrier. at least now i would see it coming. the chief made the decision that we transport a dead body. sounded okay to me... a bit unusual, but at least i'd be getting out of there. we loaded him onto a backboard, went back up that steep hill, and got the hell out of there.

but this isn't the weird part.

like i said, this 19 year-old had injuries to the head, neck, and legs. but his torso was in perfect shape. the reason? he was wearing a bullet-proof vest.

this really threw me off. here was this kid who was waiting to die. he KNEW it was going to happen this night. i kept trying to imagine what it would be like to be at my house knowing that i was gonna get it... that it was inevitable that my time was up. i imagined picking up a borrowed bulletproof vest and putting it on. i look in the mirror, turn around, look at my back, check myself out. fix my hair. take a deep breath. "yeah... this might do it. this might give me a little more time," and then continue on to what it was that i needed to do, maybe talk to my girlfriend, maybe my mom. one last time.

Monday, January 19, 2009

what the hell, dude?

i run a lot of calls. the city i work for can be so busy that many of these runs, even the more bizarre or tragic, seem to just leave me right after i turn in the paperwork. i suppose that this is a good thing as many of them really should be forgotten. but then there are the calls that just keep popping back into my head. which leads me to this little story...

when a police officer arrives on scene and someone is obviously dead, they need us to come out to their location and do what is called a 'field pronouncement.' we have the ecg monitor which will print out a strip showing that there is no longer any electrical activity in the heart.

one day a call gets dispatched: such and such address for the obvious doa. self-inflicted gunshot wound.

the call is in a very affluent neighborhood on a very famous street, kinda weird, but whatever. my partner and i walk up to the extremely nice and tidy apartment and see a distraught man sitting on the stoop crying with his head in his hands next to an officer who tells me, "he's over there in his bedroom." i cannot find the light switch in this dark bedroom, so the officer shines his mag-light over to the bed. in bed is a white, thirty year-old male, in good shape, with a glock semi-auto in his left hand and a gunshot wound to the left temple. his hollow eyes are open and are staring at his feet. in the wall, there's a bullet hole, which clearly outlines exactly how he held this gun to his head. out of his nostrils is dried blood. the sheets were once white.

i carefully place the monitor on his chest making sure not to jostle his left hand and get a strip to give to the medical examiner. i exit the bedroom and enter the livingroom. the television is on espn and there's a basketball game playing. normal. i go to the bathroom to see if this guy was taking any meds. no anti-depressants, no anti-anxiety pills... nothing. i enter the kitchen. it's spotless. there's a wine rack full of decent bottles, there's nice dry dishes in the rack. the fridge is full of food. i go to the kitchen table. there i find an easter card from his parents. i pick it up. it's sweet, "hope your day is wonderful. we miss you a ton. love, mom and dad." there's a brand-new glock pistol case with the instruction manual out and open. i mean, brand-new. not a scratch. on the table, a sealed envelope from the man in bed. "mom and dad," written with a blue ball-point pen. nope... not opening that... but i want to. i ask the crying guy on the stoop if anything had been going on, anything notable recently, any history of depression. teary, he says, "nothing. nothing that i knew about. i didn't hear from him for five days and i started tripping out because that's not like him. i called the cops and we found him like that." he was a mess.

"hey man... i had a friend who did this in high school," i said, "don't beat yourself up over this. there's nothing you could have done to change this. believe me... i know." i was there, once... almost twice.

what a weird call. i go on many suicide attempts, and have been on several successes. but this one... this one just didn't add up. not for a moment did i think that there was foul play, but i also was unable to really intuit a motivation. seemed like he had it pretty good. theories? did a girl break up with him? kinda doubt it... the letter would have been written to her... one last dig. financial ruin? on this street? in this apartment? nah... don't think so. was he gay? would his parents never accept him? nope. he was too old to care enough about that to off himself. he wasn't 17. who the hell knows? maybe i should have steamed open that letter.

suicide... c'mon people. give us all a fucking break.