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The Spectator
founded 2004 by ron cruger
A place for intelligent writers
A place for intelligent readers
 by Frank Shortt
shafra@sbcglobal.net
The Killing
2014 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
C
        For some reason I was not looking forward to a good day as I had to renew my driver’s license and didn’t feel I was well prepared to do so. The parking lot at the Department of Motor Vehicles was pretty well full as I drove in to find a parking space. I finally found one at the end of the parking lot close to the back exit. Having just gotten out of the Air Force and seen a lot of “red tape” exhibited, I was not expecting too much from the employees at the DMV. Government agencies, as a whole, do not move very quickly.
        I had noticed earlier that a Hispanic man in his late twenties had walked up to a brown, beat up van and began talking to the occupants. Giving it no more thought, I continued to study the manual for license renewal. Suddenly, five shots rang out. Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow! As was customary in the Service, I hit the floorboard of my truck and awaited further developments. As everything became deathly quiet, I raised slowly up to see what was going on. What I saw was a brown van leaving the parking lot and a Hispanic man coming toward me with blood gushing from his mouth. I don’t know if I panicked, or if I was scared, but nonetheless, I jumped out of my truck and ran toward the door of the DMV. As I ran, I looked back to see the man fall face forward and cease to move.
        I banged on the door with all my might shouting,
        “Open up, there’s been a shooting out here and the man is dying.”
        The door was finally opened, although it was not time for the DMV to open, and the attendant ran to call the police. The report that came out in the local paper next day reported a “panicked man banging on the door of the DMV shouting something about a killing.”
        As the police arrived, I was back at my truck and someone else in the parking lot was trying to assist the Hispanic man. The investigating officer swaggered up, showing great authority, and began questioning the onlookers that had gathered around.
        “Who saw the shooting,” he asked, knowing that no one was about to volunteer any information.
         Someone in the crowd pointed me out as the one who had banged on the door of the DMV and the officer came striding toward me. I must admit that I was so shook up that I could not have given a straight answer if I had to.
        “What did you see” the officer inquired.
         “I was sitting in my truck and heard five shots but when I got up to look a van was speeding out of the parking lot.”
        “Did you get his license plate number?” he asked.
        “No, I am afraid I didn’t get anything except the color of the van,” I replied with consternation.
        “Which way did the van go?”
        “It made a right turn out of the parking lot and a left at the corner,” was my unhelpful reply.
        He stepped back and gave an order to one of his associates, something about going after the brown van.
        By this time, the ambulance had arrived and taken the man to the hospital. I knew when they pulled the shroud over his face that he was gone. I was not able to glean any information from anyone in the parking lot as to the actual events, and I was allowed to leave as I was not any help to the investigation.
        I left the scene and shakily entered the DMV to try and take the test. My adrenalin must have been at the right height as I aced the test and was given a temporary license. As I left the DMV I noticed that the police were still there measuring, calculating and questioning anyone who happened by. I was not approached, so I didn’t give any more information. Besides, I was not in any mood for a murder trial. 
        For months after the shooting I had trouble sleeping. Every time anyone moved about the house I would awaken in a panic. Nightmares haunted my sleep and sometimes I would awaken my wife flailing my arms and groaning. Many nights I awoke in cold sweats, my night clothes wringing wet, and feeling as though I had been running for hours. The sight of the man coming toward me haunted me day and night. Seeing death first hand does something to one’s psyche.
        The headlines a few days later pieced the tragedy together. “Man killed in love triangle.”
        Apparently, the Hispanic man had approached the brown van to question the driver about his girlfriend. The driver of the vehicle was the one who had been dating the girl in question. The Hispanic man became angry and began hurling insults at the driver who in turn pulled a small automatic pistol from under the seat and began firing. All five shots were placed in the man’s mouth and death was immediate. The reason he stumbled the few steps he took was by sheer momentum. The brown van was traced as far as the border of Mexico and there the search ended. The girlfriend, who was in the back seat of the van at the time, told the story.
        For months after this incident, I jumped at any loud noise. If a sprinkler came on suddenly, I would jump as if I was shot. I remember one time that my partner and I were in an old book warehouse looking for antique books. As we were walking through the warehouse, someone dropped a pallet from a forklift and I ran from the building thinking that someone had opened fire. If I happened to be walking down the street and a car backfired, I would run for the ditch. If someone shouted loudly, I was ready to turn in panic. Through time and the healing process, I have become less likely to run from these common noises. As long as I live I will never forget the look on the face of that Hispanic man as he struggled to maintain life while his life’s blood surged from his mouth.