I saw the man in the taxi in my side mirror. He was a mustachioed black man in a light blue Dri-Fit shirt, with small black moles on his cheeks. A pleasant looking man, until my side mirror started to move. Slowly, his outstretched arm filled the glass, with a gun cocked at the woman in his passenger side. My mirror reoriented itself around his face.
I turned to my own passenger and said, Let’s hope this guy doesn’t follow through with his threats. We watched in the mirrors, with the coldest expressions we could paste on our faces.
I motioned for her to stay down, and slowly rose to see what was (not) happening. As soon as the cabbie caught my eye, a spray of red shot horizontally from the woman’s head.
My uncle once told me when I was young that the most effective way to shoot oneself was to turn the gun upside down, open one’s mouth wide, and stick the barrel in there and shoot upwards. I’m not sure why he felt it appropriate to pass on this information to a 9 year-old, for heaven’s sake, but he did.
Not entirely surprisingly, this is how he went when I was 12.
It was at this exact moment that I could hear his voice, his presence, swimming around inside my cerebral cortex, saying:
To the side? Dramatics. Those Hollywood types don’t know nothin’ ‘bout nothin’. It won’t get the job done. Look, like this.
The passenger door opened, snapping me out of my reverie. The cadaver tumbled out, as the taxi started to accelerate. But this wasn’t a movie, and there were bad guys to catch.
“Bad guys to catch.” I shook my head. I guess I’m a walking cliché now.
My eyes might be playing tricks on me, but I thought I saw the body stir. In that split second, I had to make a decision – save the victim, or chase the cabbie?
I jumped out of my car and ran over to the body. The bullet hadn’t made it out of the woman’s head through the other side; examining the gunshot wound confirmed my suspicions. The recoil changed the trajectory of the bullet, and the bullet ended up going more upwards than horizontal. The lady was alive.