Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spare me the false bravado

By Libby

It's so easy to be brave if you've never actually faced down a gunman. I have. Twice. So I found this fool Derbyshire and his loyal fan's insipid posts especially offensive. They should keep their adoslecent daydreams of glory to themselves until after they've looked down the barrel of a gun wielded by a hostile hand.

I was an eighteen year old college student when it first happened to me in the 60s. I was living with housemates in a house on a lake. It was a snowy night in winter and a woman knocked on the door saying she was stuck down the road and asked to use the phone. Of course I let her in. By the time I closed the door, three other guys had followed her and I staring down the barrel of some kind of shotgun. I didn't have a clue what kind of gun it was. It was big, that's all I knew.

I did what they said and so did the other five people in the house at the time. We found out later they were junkies from a big city about 20 miles away who had come after hearing an erroneous rumor that we had a large shipment of marijuana in the house. They were total amateurs. They stayed so long that another roommate showed up in the interim. She joined us in lying on the floor, where we had been for the previous 30 minutes. They took anything we had of value in lieu of the non-existent pot, but at least nobody got shot.

The second time, I was in my early 40s. I was in the parking lot of what was then the Star Community Bar in the very center of Little Five Points in Atlanta, GA. A very tall black man jumped out from behind the dumpster and grabbed me from behind in a bear lock. He held a handgun right behind my left ear and said, "You know you a fuckin' bitch?"

Time slows down in a situation like that, sort of like when you're in a bad auto accident but you don't really have a lot of time to think. My first thought was that my daughter was going to be really pissed at me for getting my brains shot out in a parking lot. She told me to leave Atlanta only hours before it happened. My second thought was - shit, this guy is going to kill me.

You go into another realm of consciousness. There's no word for that level of adrenaline. It's pure survival instinct. I didn't fight him. I leaned into the guy's chest, like a lover would.

"No I'm not. You got the wrong girl," I said, remarkably calmly. "Please don't kill me."

I don't know why he didn't just pull the trigger. Maybe that response threw him off. It felt we just stood there in this kind of standoff for a really long time. It was probably only seconds. He didn't shoot, so I did the next thing that came to mind. I screamed at the top of my lungs. Huge, high pitched screams of pure terror. My own fury scared me. The gun was still at my ear. I can still feel the cold steel even now, as I recount that night.

Six white guys came running down the sidewalk from the plaza. They were hollering but they were a long way away. He still could have shot me long before they could reach us and they didn't exactly come running over. They were milling around on the sidewalk. I stopped screaming. We all looked at each other.

The guy let me go and started running the other way, down towards the alley. As he was running, he shot off the gun. It wasn't as loud as I thought it would be. I looked at the guys on the sidewalk. To this day, one of the few regrets I harbor is that I didn't walk over and thank them for saving my life. I was too stunned. I just lifted my hand and then turned around and walked up the stairs to the bar where my friends were playing. It was 10:30pm.

I walked into the place and slid into the first booth. My friends came over, glad to see me. I could barely speak.

"Get me a double shot of Jameson and call the police," I said. "Somebody just tried to kill me."

And then I cried, for a long time, on Rick's shoulder. I didn't feel all that brave. I just felt lucky to be alive. I still do.

Derbyshire and his little usefool tool are only right about one thing. Until you've been there, you don't have a clue what it's like. Until they have, they might want to think twice before publishing such clueless posts.

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