This is a true story. The names have not been changed for there are no innocent to protect. The author was and still is Alex.
I was in Georgia when I was shot. I was standing on the pavement of my friend’s father's driveway when it happened. I guess at my age one doesn’t think too much about their last breath. But I would take mine twelve hours later, lying in a hospital bed in ICU.
Oddly enough I remember being shot. I heard everything. My friend Alex was there and after the gun went off he stood up from his chair and yelled. “It went off! I can’t believe the gun went off!” By then I had already crashed to the ground and my head smashed upon the cement. I couldn’t see anything. The blood from the wound blinded my good eye. The bullet from the 357 penetrated my right eye and took out the majority of the right side of my brain. I guess sound and memory aren’t housed there, or maybe I was lucky enough to retain those brain functions by some sort of miracle. Most people might not consider it a miracle, but it was nice to hear all the things said about me by my hospital bedside. Everyone came. They all cried and showered me with love. They spoke of how they would take care of me if I lived but came out of the tragedy damaged in a mental kind of way. I wouldn’t come out of the tragedy at all. I couldn’t. At the time it made no sense to, except in respect to my family and friends. I wanted to hold on to my life for them, but I was too weak. I heard the cops arrest Alex and I knew I wanted him to see me one more time, with my heart monitor going beep, beep, beep. And he did. I didn’t want him to be there when I died. It wasn’t fair. So after I heard him leave I called it quits and let go.
I was killed for one reason and one reason only. Many people will tell you the story many different ways. Even Michael, the killer won’t tell the truth, and maybe he doesn’t know the truth. It was the love I had for my sister that took me out of the game of life. Some say love hurts, but I didn’t feel a thing. You see, Michael was in love with my sister, but I didn’t trust him. We had been friends a few years and from what I could gather of him he wasn’t the type of guy you would want to call brother-in-law, for Christ’s sakes he killed me, point proven. He had wanted to date my sister and I forbade it in a very Shakespearean way. As a matter of fact it seems all too much like someone had written my story centuries before my birth. I did all I could in order to get him to leave her alone, which was difficult because my best friend Alex enjoyed Michael’s company. If I wanted to be around Alex I would more often than not subject myself to being around Michael. I know now that if Alex had known beforehand what was going to happen he would never have hung around Michael to begin with. After not allowing Michael to date my sister he began to harbor a resentment, that in the end became a killer all its own. It destroyed not only my life, but Michael’s as well. Some would say, viewing it from the outside, that it saved Alex’s life. I like to believe that if Alex were in danger and I was alive I would’ve been there to do it myself of my own free will. Nonetheless, two people destroyed one saved, still the ratio doesn’t add up to the better. Over four seasons the tension began to build more and more each day, until the surface tension of his hatred popped and the water flooded the table, like the blood that flowed from my head.
It was the beginning of summer in Georgia when I was murdered, May 31st, the last day of school. Michael had the only car amongst our mainly fifteen-year-old crowd. All but Michael and myself were fifteen, we were both eighteen. One of us never to be nineteen. After Michael picked us up from school we went to his dad’s house to mow the lawn. Sounds lame, but the only way Michael could leave and begin the summer was if he mowed the lawn first. After arriving at his father’s house Michael became lazy. Alex and I decided to mow the lawn for him, and now that I come to think of it, for the first time in my life I wasn’t being lazy like usual. My burst of zeal for labor might just have cost me my life. Upon finishing the mowing Michael had finally changed clothes and came outside to inspect the job we had done. Alex’s side was impeccable. My side could have used a little work, and this upset Michael. I think he thought that I was dumb, dumb, like Lenny in Of Mice and Men. I wasn’t. I was just lazy. Michael became frustrated and began to complain while he fixed the problem and cleaned up the clippings. This frustration was the beginning of the end of me. He finished cleaning and then asked me the question. The question that would be the deciding factor in my life. A question that I had been asked many times before and had not been killed based on my answer that I had given many times before. It’s funny to me now how a seemingly unimportant question can destroy a life, based on the answer given.
“Hey Joey, can I have a cigarette?” Michael called out to me across the lawn, walking toward Alex and myself.
“I don’t support your habit.” I replied sarcastically.
And that was that. It wasn’t like he pulled the gun out and shot me right then and there, but had I not said that, I might be alive and you might be doing something worthwhile other than reading about my death.
“Then I don’t support driving you around.” He hollered back. That’s what we do in the south, we holler. What he hollered was true. He didn’t support driving us around, but he drove us around anyway. He knew we used him mainly for his car and he hated us for it.
“Get off my property, then” He said, in response to the stupid face I made at him.
I had no idea what would occur next, and the details aren’t even that important. Him going inside and coming back out, the gun, the way he raised it to my face, the way he aimed it, the way he answered Alex’s questions about the gun being loaded and cocked, the way he pulled the trigger, and the way he lowered the pistol, are all unimportant. Although the judge and jury focused solely on these details. What was important was the fact that the bullet entered my face just to the right of my nose. What was important was that the bullet penetrated my right eyeball and exited the right side of the rear of my skull. What was important was that I fell never to rise again. All of these details were important but no one wanted to talk about them. No one but Alex. And he did. He ran through them over and over again in his head and on paper and during interviews. It was the fact that I was killed that day that was important. But what was most important of all is the reason I was killed. It wasn’t a cigarette or a car ride. It wasn’t even the poor mowing job I did. It was the love for my sister that was the death of me, and she will never know it. She will never know it and I will never know many things. What was going through Michael’s head before he pulled the trigger? What went through Alex’s head after the trigger had been pulled? I will never know the answer to these questions. I will only know what went through my head on that infantile summer day, the last day of school and the last day of my short life.