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Charlie Hatton
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#79. I have never been to a funeral, nor seen a dead person.

To be fair, I've been very close to both. I was just a couple of years old when my dad's father died, and still young enough when my grandmother died to beg out of seeing her in the casket. I did get dressed up, and I did go to the mortuary, but I stayed in the car and parking lot. I never made it inside; I had enough nightmares already at that age about Frankenstein and killer bees without adding dead people to the list. Have I mentioned that I was easily spooked as a child?

Anyway, I came close to death one other time. (Well, only once if you don't count all the times my parents say that I almost gave them a heart attack. But that's bullshit. Now you know where I get my easily-spookedness from.) But the one time I really brushed past Death was in Pittsburgh. My buddy and I were walking out of a bar. Okay, okay, we were stumbling out of a bar, and then only because it was closing. Happy now?

In any case, as we hit the street, we heard two loud noises. *pop* *pop* We didn't think much of it at the time -- we were right on Pitt's campus, so we'd learned to tune out screams and booms and shrieks after a while. And loud pops, too, apparently. But as we reached the end of the block on our way home, we saw a guy huddled on the sidewalk. By that time -- given the hubbub that was swelling around us -- we had figured out that what we heard might have been gunshots. We figured the guy in front of us was just crouching behind a car, in case there was more action.

When we got closer, though, we realized that he wasn't crouched, so much as slumped awkwardly against the car. Oh, and that we was resting in a pool of blood. Yes, that was an important clue, certainly. The cops got there as we walked past, and hurried us along. The ambulance arrived a couple of minutes later, and the EMTs started working on the guy as we watched. So it seems he wasn't quite dead. Which was good, of course. For one thing, I really liked that bar. (Yeah, yeah, plus the guy didn't die. Hey, for all I know, he deserved it.)

Anyway, I can't really comment on his survival, becuase we didn't stick around long enough to see what happened. Oh, my friend wanted to. He'd have taken Polaroids if he'd had a camera. Me, I'm not really the 'morbidly curious' type.

(I'm thinking one day of trying out 'morbidly obese', or 'morbidly droll', on a Vincent Price kick, but 'morbidly curious'? Nah. Too creepy.)

So we stayed for a couple of minutes and milled around with the crowd. I remember leaving just around the time this enormous black guy said,

'Oh, a black dude got shot, huh? I bet it was a cop that did it. A white cop! Man, I oughta make somebody pay for what they've done. I'm gonna kick me some honky ass!'

Not that he had anything to do with us leaving. Of course not. Just pure coincidence. It's funny what sticks in your mind as you grab your friend my the shirt collar and run screaming away from a possible homocide scene. Really. You'd be surprised.

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