I heard six gunshots last night. I am not sure they were gunshots, actually. A car may have backfired six times in a row. Unlikely, but I am not sure.
However, every time I imagine someone rolling down Central Ave with their piece glinting out of the window – I imagine the bullets ricocheting off wrought iron fences, brick walls, and even glass – which I know is impossible. I imagine them piercing through the wooden slats of my building, maybe through the wood studs spaced every three to four feet in my walls, through the drywall, through my skull and back out through the window of my apartment. Sometimes, I trick myself into thinking I can hear the sound of metal shells clinking on the asphalt the way one drops a jar of coins on a table. I can hear them roll down the avenue towards the unmarked vehicle speeding away. Maybe the shells roll into the drain, never to be found again.
I imagine my blood splattered on the egg white wall the way Pollock would have splattered his paint on his canvas. I imagine bits of brain, often described as hamburger meat in various films and books I have come across, slithering down the wall. My body slumps over onto the floor rather heavily in a dead pan non-assitive kind of way. Perhaps my body is lying on its arm’s side with the elbow facing in towards my stomach – an unnatural position, my legs posited backwards, but always certainly with my head on its right side -the side where my hair is thinner: the side I sleep on. My head lies in a pool of warm blood. The whites of my eyes are red as if they were filled with the sight of fruit punch – so full the bloody mary overflows out of my tear ducts. The blood clumps itself in my hair making it stringy like grease and oil can. My skin stains with the puddle of blood trickling in an irrigative path in the trenches of my wrinkles maneuvering around obstacles like my arid pores. When it dries around my hair line, it is caked exactly like a bad tinting job. My teeth which were once straight after 3.5 years of braces are stacked onto one another gathering towards the center with blood lines doing the work floss should have done.
Then I imagine how long it would take someone to find me. Who would be the first to call, notice and become concerned? Who would be the one to make that logical jump from she’s busy with her school work to something terrible has happened? How would they feel once their worst nightmare has been confirmed? How long would it take for someone to find me, I repeat? I imagine it would take at least a week. Who would find me? Not my best friend whom I have known since I was five. Not my other best friend from high school whom I’ve known since I was fourteen. Not my friend who lives four blocks away. Not my parents with whom I remain very close. Not my younger sister – my only sibling. Not my best friend from college who lives in midtown. No, these people would be probably be the last to know. I am pretty sure I know would won’t find me. Won’t isn’t right. I am pretty sure I know who can’t find me. My neighbors would find me first. Maybe they would notice once the blood seeps through their ceiling from my floor. Maybe the contractor would find me once he opens the door to install my windows. When the police try to redraw my last moments I wonder what they will need to know Regardless of what they need to know I wonder who last person I had spoken to will be? What would that conversation have been about? Something ridiculous and inconsequential, of course. How will the police identify me? If I am killed in my apartment, the identification process should be rather swift. I am surrounded by a ton of books that have my first and last name written in the inside cover. If that does not suffice I am not sure what will. If I am killed coming back from the laundromat I may become and remain a Jane Doe for quite some time. I like to imagine my rather extensive dental/orthodontic work would provide me with great records. We know the priority of identifying random crime victims, so maybe not. Perhaps, a month. My parents would have to fly out from California to identify my body. I wonder, if I would make the news. “Young female NYU graduate student, 22, shot and killed in her apartment last night. Many describe her death as tragic for she left behind many friends and much family. She was an intelligent young lady with a bright hopeful future.” Then, a picture would flashshown in the top right corner of the screen for a grand total of 30 seconds, the anchor would be cued to look down, respectfully. This image would be a photograph my parents would have furnished. I cannot think of a suitable photograph for such an occasion. How about that depressing photograph on my NYU id card where I look incredibly displeased with the gleam on my skin from the city’s humidity? Or how about that other pleasant photograph I took: my passport picture. The gentleman at the UCB Rec Office offered to take my picture several times again because I looked unhappy. Would I make the local paper? Probably not. How about a milk carton? Silly rabbit. Tricks are for kids.
I think about when my funeral would be. Who would come? Where would it be? Would they have an east coast ceremony and a west coast ceremony? Would all my friends from undergrad make it if there were only one – surely in California? Would my professors, therapists, and doctors come from NYU and Amherst? Whom of my family would be there? Would my sister have to write a eulogy? How do you write something like that?I try to imagine the sorrow that would engulf my family. As a result, my eyes get watery; especially when I recall the time that I did manage to imagine the proper degree of pain. I had nearly fallen with pneumonia in the second grade. Even then, I was a bit preoccupied with similar thoughts. I woke up screaming and crying in my sleep once. My parents’ reaction, then, was wrenching enough.
I don’t know where we go after we die. But, I always imagine I would be at the funeral hovering in the balcony, watching. I would be buried near my great-grandmother in Richmond maybe in my grandmother’s plot which she bought long ago. Uncommonly sad for a grandmother to outlive her granddaughter. It is also strange to think, the day they would lower my casket into the ground would be the first time I had been back to the cemetery since my great grandmother’s funeral in 1999.
Funny, I am clasping the side of my head right now, the side where the bullet would have entered. Never underestimate the power of the psychosomatic.