“Are you okay???” shouted Mark “The ambulance is on its way, lay still, don’t move” he ordered in a shaking yet firm voice. Clint lay on the ground, blood oozing out his stomach, he was conscious and coherent and surprisingly calm. Clint placed his hand on his wound and applied pressure to relieve the bleeding. Lucky for Clint he was physically fit, his body was a fighting machine, sculpted and muscular. Mark asked Clint how this happened? Where were the people that shot him? Mark and Clint were close friends and Mark wanted to inflict a revenge on the perpetrators of this assault that had hit so close to home.
Clint asked Mark to stay with him and let their fellow officers search for the people. The three officers standing around got the message and moved off into the bushes to look for the people who had done this. Mark asked Clint how many times he had been shot, “Once” he replied. Mark started asking questions about where he was when the shot was fired, why did he not have his firearm drawn, why was he alone in the bush… Clint took offence to all the questions, ”Why are you interrogating me? I am the victim here”, Mark apologised and said that he was in shock and was not really sure what to do and this was the first time he had been faced with someone he knew being in a life threatening situation.
Clint and Mark had been house friends for over 10 years now and worked together when they could, their friendship because stronger when Clint found out that he had cancer. Although they were employed by the police department, the medical aid that they were on did not cover what they termed inherited illnesses, so basically he was covered for the less serious treatments. Clint was a renowned Kick boxer and he had been to the far east to compete in competitions. He was also directly involved in self defence training for his fellow officers. He was a person that so many people looked up to, how and why was this happening to him, why why why???
While Mark was comforting Clint they both heard the ambulance coming, that familiar sound they had heard so many times before. This time the sound was coming for them. They knew that no amount of comforting words would be able to relieve the pain, they used these comforting words on so many people they attended during their duties that it became almost like a sermon “Hang in there, the ambulance is almost here, they are going to take care of you, you are going to be fine, lay still…” the words were actually used to bring comfort to them as they were not doctors and could not relieve the pain. Now one of them was laying helpless on the ground, what was to be said?
Mark stood up when the paramedics arrived, he gave them space to work on his friend. They opened his shirt and found the small black hole that was leaking. With every breath the hole got black and deep, it looked like it was alive, then with the exhale of that breath the hole would get shallow and expel blood, it seemed that although the hole was alive it was starting to die, and die slowly. Mark prayed for his friend, he was having an uphill battle looking at his friend. He knew that this was possible the beginning of the end. No one ever spoke of it, except around the BBQ with a few beers in the hand, the shot placement was a terrible reality.
They were both trained by a guy called Cookies, he was aptly named, he weighed in at around 120Kg’s and had a love for all food not only cookies, he was surprisingly fit. He was the firearm trainer, in fact he was so accurate that there was talk of his giving a circumcision to a fly on the target at 10m with a 9mm pistol. Cookies always told the people he trained it you want to kill someone and not get charged for the murder, shoot him in the stomach. This is the only place in the body that will heal long enough to get him through the court case proving that your intention was not to kill him, but after a few month he will start going in and out the hospital until they have removed most of the stomach and when he is weak, the dismal condition of the government hospitals would insure a short battle with a painful infection and then death, a total process of around 18 months.
There he lay, Clint urged the paramedics to give him something for the pain. The paramedics said that they were going to incubate him, this was an extreme pain killer, one used on serious patients. The incubation meant that he would be rendered unconscious and would not know anything until he was awakened in hospital as few days later after all the operations and medical attention had been carried out, or if things went wrong this would be the last time that he would fall asleep. Clint called Mark closer ”please tell Annie that I love her, I will be alright and she must not worry” Mark had forgotten about Annie, the situation had put blinkers on him, the immediate situation was the priority he felt, but he knew he had to get hold of her.
After Clint was incubated and loaded into the ambulance Mark left and went straight to Annie’s work place, he did not want a stranger going there and telling her what had happened. Arriving at her work, he entered the door as calmly as he could, he kept saying to himself that he must remain calm and that would calm her, he tried to break a smile when he made eye contact with her. She smiled back for a second and then blurted out “What has happened? Where is Clint, WHERE IS HE…?” Mark could not understand how she knew so instinctively that something had happened. Mark had tried to keep a straight face, how was this possible. She started shouting now, because he was not giving the answers she demanded “WHERE IS HE, is that Clint’s blood on you???” oh crap he thought the blood, that would remove any doubt from that story he was about to tell her that he was in trouble.
He calmed her down as best he could, saying that she must come with him to the hospital and he would tell her everything. In the car she was surprisingly silent while Mark explained what he knew about the incident. Mark told her that Clint had told him he was going to meet with an informer just outside of town and that they should split up. It was for a case that they were close to cracking and needed all the information they could get. He was gone for around an hour when the two way radio’s silence was broken with Clint’s voice requesting immediate assistance. Not long after that he came on the airwaves again saying he had been shot.
Mark was first on the scene and found his empty patrol car in the street, there was no one in site. Suddenly there was another shot. With that more officers arrived and they split up into the surrounding bush looking for Clint and the person who had shot him. Mark found Clint and told the rest of them to keep searching. Annie was shocked that he would go out alone, Mark and Clint were like the brothers and never left each others side while on duty. “Why today” she kept asking out loud.
The last month or so Clint had been acting strange, continually on the internet researching the insides of the body. Every time Annie asked him what he was doing he would say he was looking at the organs and where the cancer was in his at the moment. He was devastated that the organisation that he had dedicated his life to for over 10 years would leave him to die like that. He had never taken a bribe, had a great arrest record and had in 10 years take only 4 sick days, that was for an ingrown toe nail. He was probably the most liked and respected officer in the department.
At the hospital, Mark took Annie to the ward where Clint was. He was not there when they arrived and both their frantic enquiries got them the answer that he was in theatre. They waited and waited, about two hours past before the doctor came out to see them. The doctor said that everything was fine and although Clint was not out of the woods yet he should make a good recovery. Annie went in to see him and then later Mark. Clint strained himself and asked Mark to come closer, he wanted to ask him something. Mark came closer and Clint whispered in his ear “Please my….. buddy do me a favour… my shirt… my… my shirt… go get my…. Shirt… take it home for me …please do that for me…please..plea…”, Clint’s eyes closed and the wondered off into dreamland.
His shirt of all things, Mark thought it was the drugs kicking in but then again, when he was all well and recovered he would probably want the shirt to frame and hang up behind his bar as a memento. Mark made sure that Annie was okay and that she had a lift home. He left the hospital and went back to the scene where Clint had been shot. There he walked around looking for anything that might have been missed by the detectives after he had left, there laying next to the used wrappers of needles and other sterile medical dressing was his shirt. Mark held it up and looked at the hole, a perfect hole, not much bigger than the one that was on his friends stomach.
Mark felt uneasy carrying this piece of clothing, just hours ago Clint’s healthy body was wrapped in it and after a split second a boiling hot piece of lead covered in copper entered it and caused untold damage to his insides. Mark bundled the shirt into a plastic bag and threw it into the boot of his car. He left and went back to check on Annie. Annie was at home, still in shock but doing much better. The doctor assured her that there was nothing that she could do for him and that she should go home and rest.
The next day they were greeted by Clint as they walked into his hospital room. He in better condition than the previous day. They tried to enquire how he was feeling. He seemed a bit uneasy, just brushing off most of the questions. He asked Annie if she would go and get him a fruit juice? Mark said he would, but Clint said he needed to talk to him, she must please leave them alone for a while. When Annie left, Clint seemed a bit shy, “Mark, … did you uh… get my… uh shirt for me?” This was strange Mark Thought, he shirt was in his car, “Yes, it is in my car” he replied. “Mark… please do me a favour… um… don’t ask me why… uh just do what I am about to ask you… uh… destroy that shirt for me please… don’t ask me anything just destroy it.”
Mark was baffled, why would this shirt be haunting Clint like this? It was a memory that should be kept, something to talk about to his kids and something to brag about to his grandkids. Mark respected his wishes, “Okay my buddy, I will destroy it for you”, Mark thought that it must be a way of coming to terms with what had happened or putting closure to it. With that Annie entered the room again, visibly happy… “The doctor just caught me in the passage, he has great news. The bullet made a clean exit and the damage to your insides seems limited to the left side, he wants to see your medical records for a follow up operation and then you are good to go.” That was great news.
A week later they received even better news, the bullet had actually torn through the intestines where the cancer was, this meant that the follow up operation was going to remove the cancer, and repair all the damaged intestines. Because this was an Injured On Duty incident all further operations to the affected area would be covered by the Medical aid. This news seemed to help them forget about the trauma they had all been through a week earlier. This meant that he would not only make a full recovery but come out cancer free and everything was covered…, what more could they ask for?
Two months later, Mark came to visit Clint at home. Mark seemed on edge, he knew that everthing was over and that things had worked out for the best, but something was tugging at Mark. “Clint, how you feeling?” Mark asked. “I am doing just fine buddy, how you doing?”. Mark was trying his hardest to keep his composure “I am doing okay…” But Mark was troubled and the nagging feeling he had was all focused on one person, Clint. “Clint, I am going to ask you something and I want a straight answer” Mark said. Clint looked a bit uneasy, but confirmed that he would give him a answer.
Mark said “You remember the day you were shot?” “Yes” Clint replied. “Well you called me into the room after your operation and asked me to do something thing for you, the next day you asked me to do the very same thing… do you remember what you asked me?” Clint was silent for a while then replied “Yes I do.” Mark said “ you asked me to find your shirt you were wearing when you were shot and destroy it.” “Yes” Clint replied “Did you do what I asked you to do?”
Mark started “Well Clint I did find your shirt.” Clint looked relieved and asked “Did you destroy it?” The answer that came out of Mark mouth looked like it hurt Clint physically. “NO, I did not” Clint seemed to be swallowing sand, his words did not want to come out. Mark continued “I was speaking to the detectives, they say that there was no sign anywhere of spent cartridges, foot prints, vehicle tracks or any indication of someone else being around you when you were shot, they have now given this some thought and come up with the same version as what you offered them, that you think it was a sniper. Especially since the bullet exited your body, it means it was a high powered rifle or a very close courters shot”
Clint seemed shaken by the direction Mark was heading with these statements he was making and said “Well that is what I said and that is what the investigation has proven, so what is the problem?” Mark looked at Clint and said “I know what happened Clint, how could you do it?” Clint tried to keep it together “How could I do what Mark?” “I had a look at you shirt Clint, it has powder burns on it, POWDER BURNS!!!, How can it have powder burns on it if you were taken out by a sniper?” Clint was becoming anaemic loosing colour with every word out of Mark’s mouth. Mark was distressed, he felt betrayed and lied to.
Clint took a deep breath and said “Mark you don’t know what we have been though the last few months, the cancer, the burden of knowing that I will run up hospital bills and probably die leaving Annie with all the debt” Clint took a second before continuing “I could not do that to her, it is not her fault, I had to do something… I researched on the internet where the vital organs are in the body and researched how to inflict a wound on myself without causing death. It was all that I could do, the medical aid would not cover my hereditary illness and this was the only other way, so that day I went out to the location I chose, called for assistance, and when I was sure that you guys had arrived laid over my firearm and pulled the trigger…”