Day 16 #iWriteDaily
The prompt is “I remember.” The men begin to scribble. After 15 minutes I announce the two-minute mark. They keep writing.
“See if you can find a place to leave off for now,” I tell them after another five minutes passes.
One by one they read.
“I remember smoking my first blunt, but I don’t remember my mother’s birthday,” one writer shares. His mother is gone now; so is his “Pops.” Is there a catch in his voice or did I imagine it?
“I remember,” another writer begins. He names the cross streets where he was shot 13 times.
The paramedic kept asking his name, over and over, although he’d answered already, even spelled it out. “He asked me if I had insurance. I told him, ‘Just get this buggy moving to the hospital.’”
When he finishes the other writers are silent. A respectful silence from these veterans of the streets, I think.
“Thirteen times,” one finally responds.
“Where was you shot?” another asks the current storyteller. He motions with his hands: All over his body, from the chest down.
“Maybe the medic was trying to keep you talking so you didn’t pass out,” someone else suggests, acknowledging it wasn’t a great bedside manner. But still … .
The storyteller thinks, as though he hasn’t considered this possibility before in his retelling of that night. But then he shakes it off, implies the paramedic’s repeated question points to stupidity. Or incompetence.
I ask the storyteller: When did you finally lose consciousness? He says it was at the hospital, after they had cut away his clothes and put an oxygen mask over his face. He recalls doctors and nurses barking orders as they rolled him down the hall for surgery. Then fade to black.
“There was $1,500 in my pocket,” he says. “After they cut off my pants, I never saw that money again.”
“I remember” always results in detailed, invigorated writing. There’s freedom in those words.