Debatable Injury (Flash Fiction)

Bob fell to the ground in a crumple amid the screams of his friends. The assailant, the man who shot him, ran quickly down the dark street and into an alley. Bob watched the man run. White socks flashed from his ankles, and his tan jacket flew out wildly behind him. Then, he was gone.

Brian fell to his knees beside Bob. “Bob! Christ, are you okay?” He clutched Bob carefully into his arms.

Bob groaned. His side hurt terribly. He lifted his hand to reveal the spilling blood. Susanne and Catherine both screamed in horrific unison. “I’m pretty sure he hit me, man.”

“Catherine, give me your jacket,” Brian said quickly. She did as he said, and Brian laid the black overcoat onto the wet asphalt. The rain had reduced itself to a light drizzle and everyone, without really knowing, was very glad for that. “Hang in there, man. We’re going to get through this.”

Bob took a sideways look down the wet city street. The traffic was stopped and several drivers stood beside their cars. It was hard to make out the silhouettes against the sparkling lights. He kept waiting for a darkness or a chill to come to him, but it never did. After a moment, he looked at his hand again. Upon second inspection, it wasn’t nearly as red. “I think he just grazed me,” Bob said.

“What!?” Susanne shrieked. “What did he say?”

Bob shifted his body to try sitting up. Pains shot through his side, but they came mostly from the surface. “I mean I’m shot,” Bob said. “But I think he barely hit me.”

Brian rolled his friend close and pulled up his shirt. A red gash bled from the fleshy side. “You’re right,” Brian said. He chuckled, then laughed, then screamed with happiness. “You’re right, man! He barely hit you. Hell, you ain’t even hurt!”

“Well, I’m still shot,” Bob said.

“Yes, 911!?” Catherine said into her phone. “My friend has been shot! We need an ambulance.”

“Well hold on,” said Brian. “I don’t know if that’s even necessary.” The three of them gave Brian a bewildered stare. Further down the wet street, unknowing drivers honked their horns impatiently. Brian scanned the small group for sympathy. “Seriously. Do you know what the deductible is on an ambulance ride?”

The ladies both exploded into furious yelling. Not a single word outside of the loud obscenities directed toward Brian could be understood. Bob propped himself up on an elbow and took a deep breath. The pain was still there, but with the fear gone, it had largely subsided. “Yeah, but Brian, I’ve been shot.”

“Dude, I know. Believe me, I know.” He nodded his head rapidly. “But I’m just saying, we’re only a few blocks from the hospital. I can go get the car and load you up and we’ll be there in five minutes.”

A flurry of f-bombs came from the no longer worried women.

Bob coughed and cleared his throat. In the distance he could hear the sirens approaching. Not surprising, the authorities had already been called. “I’m not saying you’re wrong, Brian. I’m just saying, ya know, I have been shot. We should just play this one by the book.”

Brian shook his head. “You’re just throwing money away, man.” He shook his head and the moisture in his hair gave a strange twinkle. “I thought you had more sense than that.”

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