Mud People, No. 3

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Mud People #3 (2019). House paint on paper. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

I heard the shot as I was looking at his face, or at least I think that was how it happened, sequentially. I remember his head as a bit of a blur, as if it were moving just a bit fast for my senses, like the bullet that penetrated the adjacent brick and sent clay shards to scrape the left arm of his jacket. The speed of sound is slow, I remember from school, and because of that the audible crack of the shot gave me no clue to the distance of the shooter. Human reaction is slow as well, at least in stunned surprise, and if there was intent to aim and fire again then he was a goner, standing as he was perpendicular to but still against a wall, a blind man sent to a firing squad.

There was no second shot, just a disoriented mumble, and maybe a stumble, as the event came and passed. Mostly it felt like silence, though I must have heard the trickle of brick parts as they hit the pavement, but it seemed a long time before he said “What the hell…”. I grabbed the unscathed sleeve of his leather and pulled him around the corner into an alley where we ran like we did when we were kids. Thank God for Chicago alleys, always our hideouts, now our escape route. In the passage we went from numbness past fear and into silliness, laughing by the time we’d traveled a city block and out a side alley, into a busy diagonal intersection. We aimed to get lost in a crowd, but finding only small groups, we serpentined in and around until we ducked into a diner. We had a few bucks so we ordered coffee and fries, and examined the scars on his left sleeve through the cigarette smoke rising from the ashtray between us. Outside it began to drizzle, and I didn’t know why but I thought that if it was to become a hard rain, I would run outside and stand in it, my face turned up against the deluge.

 

Danny Grosso

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