Billy was the smartest, best looking, loneliest gay man parking his car on the street in front of the club at that moment. He crawled out of the driver’s side door, a passing dog sniffed his foot, the person the dog was walking lit a cigarette. There was no car behind him, only the entry for the club parking lot, but for some reason, Billy’s OCD kicked in and he felt sure that someone had just tapped his back bumper. He walked around the car and looked carefully, but failed to find a mark.
This club was familiar with Billy. It was always too big now, a few people gathered in small green bunches around the tree after the harvest. The walls practically cried for their headier days, and Billy cried with them into his gin.
The place had slowly morphed into a gay club. They still had their hip hop night, which attracted many black men spewing testosterone, as anxious to prove their heterosexuality as a redneck in east Texas. But most nights it was the same crowd. The same crowd of Billies.
He knew that he would go home with one of them. He knew that he would wake up the next morning just as lonely. He knew that he would return soon enough.
Billy straightened from his staring-at-his-bumper stance and walked towards the front door. Then the gunshots began.
Three and Billy’s heart picked up about 75 beats and a single drop of sweat popped out of every single pore on his body. Muscles he never knew existed tightened fiercely. Muscles deep inside of him.
Four and an intense burning sensation commenced upon his upper arm. His entire body instinctually flinched him to the side opposite, landing him awkwardly upon a car’s passenger door. He grabbed at his arm and found a black hole in the sleeve of his oh-so-fashionable shirt…and a divot of red flesh left below it as if someone had had at him with a very sharp, small melon baller.
The pain demanded his focus for approximately two additional seconds, after which a young, skinny, disheveled black man went running by, trailed after by a new flurry of bullets, headed every possible direction but straight ahead. This was fortunate for the speeding target of a man, who stumble-ran frantically down the sidewalk. The shooter, a dirty old white man with a tan hat and matching tan trench coat, long white hair, and a scraggly white beard walked behind, arms moving aimlessly, a pistol in each hand, fingers jerking back on the triggers at odd intervals. As he passed Billy the noise from the guns rang like a million prayer bells, echoing between the wall of the club and the cars parked alongside. Once his prey disappeared around the next corner, the strange gunman stopped shooting and ran down the street in pursuit. By the time he had rounded the corner, Billy could hear police sirens approaching.
Billy climbed to his feet and shuffled to his car. Moving his hand away from his arm, he noticed he wasn’t bleeding very much–a few solitary drops made their way along two trails down his arm and off his elbow. He opened his door, briefly anxious when he realized he had forgotten to lock his doors, climbed in with a soft grunt, jammed the keys in the ignition and twisted his wrist.
And that is the end of the story. Upon returning home, Billy threw away his shirt, washed his wound with antimicrobial soap leftover from his piercing, globbed on some Neosporin, shoved a cotton ball into it, and wrapped his arm in gauze. Many weeks later it became a thick, impressive scar.
But Billy returned to that club before the gauze came off, nose in his drink, waiting for another lonely Billy to stand next to him, ordering drinks or two, glancing down, Billy looking up, the world in his eyes.