Phantom Pain or not?
I was recovering from a headshot delivered
by one of two taxi passengers,
who held me up.
3 AM. Am heading home. Brooklyn.
She steps from between parked cars.
Says, “I am going to Brooklyn”.
“OK”. He slides in beside her.
Says he is Cuban from Miami.
When I look into the mirror,
she quickly lowers her eyes.
The hackles rise.
In Brooklyn, across from row houses,
near the Van Wyck Expressway,
he says “Stop right here”,
while pointing his gun at my head.
He says “get his money” to her.
She bounds over, into the front seat
grabs the money I leave on the seat,
takes off running. I grab the ignition key,
push on the door, hear the revolver cock,
turn . . .
I am facedown on the ground, wet arms,
look up, see them running away.
First thought: Get up. Run them over.
Second thought: Knock on a door.
Next thought: New Yorkers don’t open doors.
I get up, grab her dropped pocketbook,
slam the doors, totally lost. Start driving.
I slump in the seat, up against a hydrant,
under a street lamp. Numb. Wet. Paralyzed.
A man in white jeans and white teeshirt,
stops a distance away. He looks at me.
“I am going to die.” He comes closer.
Opens my door. Helps me to the back seat.
Hands me a towel. Says, “Hold it here”.
“Please get me to a hospital.” He drives.
No traffic on a hot NYC July, just past 3 AM.
He crashes thru police barriers. I smile.
I am in a movie. No pain. I see the cab
screeching to a halt in front of a building.
He jumps out and begins to drag me.
I see men at the top of the stairs, say
“Get her bag”. He hands it to me and
continues to drag me up the stairs.
I am viewing this movie from above,
and see helpers helping to place me
in an old-fashioned wood-slat wheel chair.
They are wheeling me backward,
cutting my clothes off at the same time.
A thought: I am sweaty and funky.
The corridor is lined with the injured.
The fun, no-pain movie continues
until they stick a tube into my penis.
I wake up to four Irish-looking faces,
and nurses looking down at me.
One of the officers is slapping me.
“We are gonna get this mother fucker.”
Another says, “Wake up”.
A nurse says, “Look at the photos”.
The first officer fans the wallet photos.
There he is, wearing a yellow helmet.
“Is that him?” I nod. “Are you sure?
I nod again.
A few days later I wake up.
The operating surgeon tells me he’s an
Otolaryngologist(head, neck and throat)
surgeon visiting Methodist Hospital
to teach their surgeons new techniques.
He says, “I didn’t want to operate on you
because I thought you’d be paralyzed
from the neck down, but I took the oath
to save life”.
He says, “You are lucky and need to pray
to God every day, for saving your life”.
As I am leaving the hospital
an orderly says,
“Yo bro, we thought you died”.
“No man, I’m still here.”
My savior didn’t reveal his identity.
Prelude 3 and more.
They caught the guy.
His girlfriend ratted him out.
Turns out he had killed 3 cab drivers.
She told the officers he looked for me
in various hospitals.
He did appear in a lineup with others.
Standing 5′ tall, I saw the gun gave him power.
I had sympathetic feelings for him.
I was called to appear, four or more times,
to testify at the trial. It never happened.
Still bandaged and in pain,
it felt like I was on trial.
I stopped going to court.
I had been shot with a .32 caliber bullet
in the cheek. It lodged a quarter-inch
from my spine. Two surgeries removed it.
For three years the nerve damage stopped
my breathing, until I relaxed my throat.
My friend Angie showed me the newspaper
article. I still have it. It says the police found
and saved me. From then ’til now, I question
all the news that comes my way.
I went back to driving a taxi. It lasted a week.
I picked up very few people. Not enough
to generate any income. End of that.
Friends joked about having lived,
physically unscathed thru Vietnam,
then getting shot in a cab in NYC.
I took a workshop involving fear, and wound up
as an assistant to the workshop facilitator.
It involved Arthur Janov, Rajneesh, Theatre
Psychology and work by other known voices.
This many years later, I may be suffering
from pains, no longer experienced.
Would that be phantom pain,
or is phantom pain only physical?
Hmmm . . .