I stop at a Shell station in Reno, Nevada,
pick up a pack of Camel Wides and a Frost Glacier Freeze.
The kid behind the counter has reddish hair and cruel acne.
Behind horn rimmed glasses his blue eyes are nervous.
Self-conscious and suspicious.
We shoot the bull as he rings me up.
He says he wants to go to college
to study Forensic Psychology.
I tell him I'm not much into crime or the justice system
and mention that I'm an aspiring shepherd.
A man wearing a ski mask enters the store. "Everybody freeze!" he shouts.
I drop the Gatorade and it bounces a few times on the linoleum.
Now there's a gun in my face.
"Easy buddy, no sudden moves," he says.
He has a deep, shaky voice and I recognize it.
"Jim? Jim Connor? What's going on?" I ask.
"Oh hey, how you doin?" he says, taking the mask off.
"Not so hot, there's a gun pointed at my head."
He lowers the weapon and apologizes. We shake hands.
I knock the gun out of his hand, then kick it and watch it slide over to my blue-eyed friend.
He picks it up and points it at Jim.
"Take it easy," I say to the kid. "Just take it easy."
But behind those glasses his blue eyes are wild with fear
and I know what's coming.
From my hospital bed I can see the bus depot through a greasy window.
An Asian nurse brings me food on an orange tray three times a day.
Most of the time I watch buses leave and arrive and leave again.
People get on and off. Old people. Young people. And others.
I was lucky.
The bullet didn't hit any vital organs or major arteries,
and the painkillers and bad TV are pretty close to what I'm used to at home.
Only Blue Eyes knows why he shot me instead of Jim.
I hear the police tracked him down in Tijuana, Mexico
and I don't know what happened to him after that.
Maybe he's holed up in some prison cell doing forensic study first hand.
You hear a brush with death will change a person forever,
make them feel grateful to be alive. I don't relate to that at all.
If anything I feel that life may not even be happening.
When Andy Warhol was asked about being shot he responded:
"Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there.
I always suspected I was watching television instead of living life.
But right when I was being shot and ever since,
I knew I was watching television."