Phone calls at five o’clock in the morning bringing news of the death of a loved one by crocodile attack tend to have a life-long PTSD effect on a person, at least that’s what I’m noticing. Thus, when my phone rings unexpectedly, I instinctively brace myself emotionally and listen for any sign of bad news about to be announced. I can’t help it. Yesterday I was standing in the check-out line at Trader Joe’s when I received an odd phone call from my 12-year-old son which set off my warning bells.
The call was muffled with some excited chatter in the background before we were abruptly disconnected. I knew my son was in the car with his older sister. Adrenalized, I called him back immediately and said “Are you okay!?” to which he replied “Something is happening, it’s okay mom, I’ll call you back, we’re okay!“.
A little while later, back at home, he and his 17-year-old sister burst excitedly through the front door. He immediately started telling me about what had happened and she interrupted him and bossily said “Let ME tell mom ’cause I’ll tell it right!“. Apparently they’d been driving along on a main street in our neighborhood and had come upon the aftermath of a shooting. My daughter (who has “future emergency room physician” stamped on her forehead, and who has never seen a bloody wound she didn’t want to get a closer look at) told me that the victim, a man in his forties, was lying on his back in the street and was covered with blood. People were frantically performing CPR on him. My kids pulled up only moments after the police arrived, and as they sat waiting to get through traffic which was snarled by the incident, they watched as more emergency vehicles arrived to give aid to the unfortunate victim, who was eventually hustled off to the hospital where he later died.
Earlier yesterday, I was driving down another two-lane thoroughfare in my neighborhood when a young upwardly mobile looking man wearing wrap-around sunglasses and driving a fancy BMW SUV impatiently tried to maneuver into my lane. Because I thought he was going to run into my car, I honked my horn to warn him. This apparently pissed him off and he pulled behind me instead and proceeded to tail me closely and aggressively for several blocks. My reaction was immediate and instinctive in a reptilian-brain sort of way. I felt my blood boil and my face get hot. In my rear-view mirror I could see Mr. Fancy BMW driver bearing down on me with a menacing look on his face, and I yelled something and waved my hand for him to back off. After a few blocks he slowed down to turn on a side street and I made another gesture which he probably didn’t see. Then I drove on down the street amazed at my own reaction imagining the same scene had it occurred, say, in the grocery store. I’m pretty sure if the same man had tried to pull in front of me with his grocery cart, I would’ve said “oh excuse me!” and he would’ve said “I’m sorry!“, and we would’ve smiled and walked on. It’s hard to imagine he would’ve tailed me with his shopping cart and I would’ve sworn at him and made obscene gestures.
So with all of this in mind today as I went about my business, I’ve wondered about the story behind last night’s homicide. There is no information in the news about who the victim was or why he may have been murdered. My daughter searched obsessively for information on the internet last night and again this morning. So far all we have learned is that the victim was driving a maroon Subaru, was in his forties and was shot three times, in the chest, neck and head. Witnesses say he was shot by a dark-haired man in his 20’s or 30’s who pulled up in a silver BMW convertible, shot him, sped off and is still at-large. I had nightmares about it last night, and I didn’t even witness the scene. I asked my children a hundred times if they were okay, and they both assured me repeatedly that they are fine, but I know how these things can linger in the mind of a child, or an adult for that matter.
Who knows if this murder was the result of road rage, or if it was a completely different scenario, and I hope the details will be revealed over time and the murderer will be apprehended. This makes 23 homicides in Seattle so far this year, with the annual average over the past ten years being 26, and today is only September 1st. I guess all I can do is continue to work on my own reactions and behaviors, and pray that the scary men in silver BMW’s stay away from me and my loved ones.