Wednesday, April 14, 2010

911 @ Freeway Liquors - Albuquerque, New Mexico


When my blood father and pregnant step mother were killed in 1982, something unexpected happened.  A guy by the name of Eric Corbet showed up on my doorstep the day after their deaths. I'd never met Eric before, we went to the same school but he was many years ahead of me.

Eric introduced himself to my grandmother and me and told everybody that he thought I could use a friend right now.  He then asked if he could take me for a drive.  When we jumped in his car, he pulled out a six pack of Löwenbräu and told me that he thought I could use a beer.  Eric and I became best friends on that day. 

In 1985, Eric landed a job at the “Freeway Liquors”.  This is one of those places where you can buy liquor for your drive while you gas up your car.  Eric was on the night shift, he worked the cash register.

One night, Eric called me up and told me to come by and have a few drinks.  They had some expired liquor that he was told to throw out and thought I’d like some.  When I arrived, Eric wasn’t too busy so I stuck around and visited with him.  It was a lot of fun; I was there for a couple of hours.  Just before I decided to go, I went into the bathroom to take a leak.  As I was going into the bathroom, a customer was coming out.  I thought nothing of it.  I was in the bathroom for about a minute.  When I came out, the customer was positioned directly in-between Eric and me.  He had a pistol in his hand and it was pointed at Eric.

I seriously startled the robber.  I don’t think he saw me when I walked into the bathroom so he thought that part of the store was empty.  When he saw Eric take his gaze off of the gun and onto me, the robber spun around, yelled some sort of profanity, aimed the gun at my head and fired.

When I saw the robber whip around, all I could think of was to hit the ground.  I think this is what came to mind because in all the movies, books and stories about robberies, everybody is told to “hit the ground”. That is for the exception of Pulp Fiction where they say “Everybody be cool this is a robbery! Any of you fuckin' bitch move and I'll execute every mother fucking last one of you!”. 

Well, just as the robber aimed the gun at my head and shot, I dropped to the floor.  The bullet missed my head by a hair; literally.  I could feel and hear the bullet zip by my left temple and bits of the gunpowder residue peppered my face.  Because of the timing and the shot, the robber thought he had hit his mark and that I was dead. Unfortunately, so did Eric.

As I lay on the floor, face down, I could hear Eric screaming my name over and over.  He then started to tell the robber to take everything and get out!  I heard Eric say “no, no, no, no”, I waited to hear the shot.  Then everything got quiet.

I was still face down on the floor.  I could hear somebody come over to me.  I was sure it was the robber coming back to make sure I was dead.  Next thing I know, Eric is turning me over.  He had a wild look in his eyes and tears were flowing down his cheeks.  He thought I was dead.  When he turned me over and saw that I was alive and looking at him, he frantically started looking for the bullet hole.  When none was found, my good friend Eric gave me a huge, long and much needed hug.

We were kept at the liquor store until sunrise.  We had to give statements, again and again, sketch artist drew the gunman’s portrait and forensics came to look for evidence.  Just before I was allowed to go, one of the officers said “I found it”!  He had found the bullet that was meant for my forehead.  Then to my surprise, he started laughing.  He called me and the others over.  The bullet had found an unlikely target, a worm in a Mescal bottle.  The damn robber had literally shot the tequila worm in two. 

The office looked at me and said “What in the hell were the odds of this?!”.

Eric was a wonderful man, extremely kind and gentle.  He had some physical and mild mental issues.  I don’t know what he was officially diagnosed with and I never asked him.  He looked a bit like he possibly had extremely mild downs or some other neurological disorder.  Eric died in the mid 90’s of phenomena, I was one of the last people he talked to. During our final conversation, Eric didn’t tell me he was sick.  He only told me that he really wanted to get together and missed me.  He died the next day.