I was dying here. Not figuratively. I mean I was face down on the ground, blowing scarlet bubbles in a pool of blood, distilling slowly from a bullet wound that undid my face and all I could think was—there’s no way he intended to kill me.
Blasted sideways through the head, I could still feel the rude cold of the barrel hard up against my jaw. Half my face was missing but the prodding pain in my cheek from before the explosion still lingered—the last memory I had of the other side of gunshot. All the other stuff, the raw festive meat of my liberated face, the perfect soprano signal drilling my inner ear, the waltzing tendrils of acrid smoke corroding what tissue was left of my nasal cavity, the ruthless abasement of being grounded for good—becoming a fatally injured mammal—all of it, was child’s play compared to the question of whether someone had really wanted me dead.
This is for Mel—Boom! The words clanged, loose change, against the walls of my decimated cortex. I thought: Who the hell is Mel? This being a mistake, this could be fixed. Surely he was hoping to fix this. A rewind button would appear shortly and things would be like before, just a desperate man with a .38 Special prodding the side of my face and me with urine scurrying down the insides of my thighs to the ground that has no preference for fluids, their colour, or their endocrinal contents. There it is now, the jolt, as the last pocket of wind ditches me. My soul sneezing. The sparkling mist of candy red life, so vivid, pixeless, hurtling from my dismembered face toward the unbearable light as my last thoughts fade with me:
Press the rewind button!… press the rewind… rewind.