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February 27, 2018
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March 1, 2018

We Don’t Bite the Bullet by Kyle Hemmings

We Don’t Bite the Bullet

Cat and I are standing at an outside concert listening to Marvy Walker and The Toss-Ups. It’s early evening, the sky full of red and orange streaks, the air brisk, but not overly so, and the far Evergreens in the park seem to sway to the music but it’s really an occasional breeze. Cat is gently swaying too, looking hipster in her blue denim shirt and lace short shorts. I’m not really a big fan of Marvy, but Cat was raised on his music, part surfer rock , part stoner rock with lyrics from some Zen dude who denies he still does drugs. After the first set is finished, Marvy stands at the edge of the stage, arms outstretched as if to say, “Are we still kicking ass or what?” He just turned 62 a few weeks ago. The crowd goes haywire. More, more, they shout, even the little kids on their parents’ shoulders. And it’s just then when a volley of shots ring out, another volley and another and getting closer, louder, I grab Cat’s neck and push her down but it’s too late. Just like in that song by Carol King. Cat and I have been shot full of holes.

Now here’s the thing you’ll find hard to believe. The doctor is telling Cat and I as we sit on the same emergency room stretcher that the bullets left clean holes. We didn’t lose blood. No damage to internal organs. No need to operate because there’s nothing to remove. The bullets went in and out. No need for skin grafts and all that stuff. Cat and I will walk around for the rest of our days with holes in our bodies, one in her head, and one near my lower spine. He’s says you both will feel lighter and people might make fun of your holes, especially at the beach, but you know, people, they get jealous over anything. The only side effect, he says, is that you might feel an uncomfortable gush of air through your head (Cat’s) or an occasional leaking of air or water (the two of us). In other words, no real damage. It’s something you can live with. The body will build its own detour routes and will adjust. He closes his chart, shares a pert smile, and leaves.

Now that’s the story we want you to believe. We don’t want you believing in something a lot messier. Like Cat in the ICU bed next to me is in critical condition and may never talk again or have full vision. Or that I, with that bullet in a tricky location, might never walk again. Not to mention the other bullets. Or how for years to come we will keep dreaming of the split second spray of bullets that entered us by chance only. We don’t want you to believe that. We want you to believe in miracles. Cat and I will continue to walk upright and talk and love and sing and wash clothes with all bullet holes intact. Because we believe in miracles. We believe in stories. We believe in a future. We like what we envision behind closed eyes. And we’re going to walk out of this place alive. It’s also a line, by the way, in a song by Marvy and the Toss-Ups.

Kyle Hemmings is a retired health care worker. His latest collections of poetry/prose are Scream from Scars publications and Split Brain on Amazon Kindle. He has been published in Otata, Wigleaf, Haibun Today, [b]oink, and elsewhere. He loves 50s Sci-Fi movies, manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the 60s.