This is the third part of

"The Greatest Night of My Life"

In the time-honored style of the first thing that you put your newly-sharpened pencils to each fall in school: "What I Did Last Summer"

By David Primmer

In disbelief I looked at the blood dripping from the top of my right calf. I didn't want to bother with it. I don't think Angel cared either. If I didn't feel it, did it really matter? I was much more interested in Angel's legs – I guess that was the box-wine talking. I called Mario in. "Mario, what do I do now? Iz shot my leg." Mario asked if the BB went in. I didn't know. I told him my leg didn't hurt. "Isn't it supposed to hurt when you get shot?" "Maybe you just got grazed." Confusion ensued. I was sure that I'd heard something hit the bedspread so we looked around on the floor for the BB. We didn't find anything and Angel came back with a paper towel to wipe up my leg.

Mario asked, "Do you see the BB in your leg?" I saw a little red blotch and a little gray-blue lump in my skin. We figured that the BB either went in and was stuck under my skin or it went through my leg. I wasn't sure. "How many times did he pump it?" Mario asked. "Well, he must've pumped it 10 times. He was standing there for a couple of minutes pumping that gun." Mario added that 10 pumps is enough to break the skin. One pump is pretty safe. He'd been shot on one pump before. I said, "Do you think I should see a doctor? I mean, it could be stuck in there. I once suck a pencil in my knee, the lead broke off, and it's still in there. So, I'm not sure if it matters." Mario said that I'd have to get a shot. "Tetanus. You can get lockjaw. You know, like when you step on a nail."

This all seemed like a big hassle right now.

Our options were pretty limited. We had no car, no phone (don't ask me why), and no adults (non-handicapped ones that is). Our neighbors were: Pasho, a sprightly 86 year old man who could still barely speak English after being in the US for 40 years; and the Strongbow family, father Parnell, wife and son John.

John was Angel's fertile young boyfriend and she said that we should go over to his house and his mom would look at it. We could use their phonebook and call the hospital. But there was a problem. Parnell, the meanest drunk Indian ever, usually came home around this time. Mario said "If he sees a whiteboy in his house he'll kill him. He doesn't like whiteboys. He doesn't like our family and they don't want John hanging out with Angel."

Ok, that was enough for me. I'd pass on the hospital. But Angel kept saying it would be OK. We would go over there and she might even be able to find us a ride to the hospital. The hospital was in Toppenish – 10 miles away. We left the kids in the trailer and the three of us headed down the road to Parnell's house.

Mario said I should wait at the end of the long gravel driveway because Parnell's dog was almost as mean as he was and just in case Parnell himself was there. I waited and Mario and Angel went in. Soon they motioned that the coast was clear and I walked into the little house. John was looking kind of scared. John's mom was a nice but timid lady. I showed her my leg and she went into the bathroom to get me some bandages. John was on the phone trying to call the club where Mariano was playing but couldn't get through – just an answering machine. It didn't look good.

Mario was on the lookout for Parnell while Angel was trying to explain things to John's mother. Then Mario said, "I think I see Parnell's truck. Let's get out of here." John said things would be OK but I was caught in Mario's paranoia. We started to head out but Parnell cornered us. He was automatically suspicious of anyone in his house and cut us off as we were coming out: "What's goin on here?" And Angel blurts out, "He got shot in the leg." I wasn't looking for any attention from Parnell but he says, "What? Lemme take a look at that thing. I know what to do with that. Gotta cut it out!" and with that he whipped out the 8 inch bowie knife that was sheathed on his belt.

I ran back in the house. John tried to stop his father while Mario closed and locked the front door. Parnell made it through John but he couldn't get in the front door. I'm pretty sure he had keys but I think he was too drunk to open the door. He was raging and shouting, "Where's the whiteboy? I wanna see his leg." I looked to John's mother and saw a resigned look on her face. I wanted panic and action from her; she was slightly annoyed that this had entered her house.

There was a big floor fan mounted in the window by the front door. It was spinning on high speed because it was pretty hot that night. With a huge drunken bellow Parnell put his fist through the fan in the window. It went "brrrt" and came crashing in onto the floor. I saw a bloody hand reach in and unlock the door from the inside.

Mario ran out the sliding door in the back and I followed. We ran around the house and came out onto the long driveway. I saw a pudgy black figure at the end of the drive and Mario said, "It's Ed. Yeaaah maaaan, it's Ed."

Ed: the kind of man who ignores young boys until there's a real lesson to be taught to them. Who's nickname for me was "Red on da head like a dick onna dog." Who probably stood 5'6". Who smiled with his entire upper body and scattered the hundreds of cigarette butts that retards and boys scavenged. For whom the lyric was written, "Gas-fume casualty in a repossessed car, Vietnam vet playing air guitar."

We swirled around him and told the story and he said, "Who's this fucking Parnell?" Not macho enough to give us too much confidence but reassuring all the same. The problem was no longer my leg but Parnell's interest in my leg and we enlisted Ed's help. Mario and I stayed out of the road and Ed walked down to the house.

After a few minutes, Ed came back and said that we were going to the hospital in Toppenish and that Mario should go back to the trailer. Everything was "cool man". Ed didn't have a car – one that worked anyhow – so we were going in Parnell's car. I didn't like this idea. Ed had managed to calm down Parnell and because of his hand, his wife said he should go to the hospital as well. I said I wasn't going in the car unless Ed came with me and after a second, Ed said, "Aww shit." And agreed to go.

When we got to the house Parnell and his wife were already in the car. He insisted that I sit in the front seat with him and Ed and his wife sat in the back. Parnell wouldn't let anybody else drive. He was still angry but less interested in my leg. He argued with his wife about the fan and his drinking and I looked at his braided hair and back at Ed for comfort. It was scary to sit next to such a big, drunk man who wasn't my father. We drove too fast, according to his wife, but we made it down the dark roads to the hospital.

In front of the hospital, which actually looked like a big Kentucky Fried Chicken, Parnell told Ed and I to get out and he said to his wife, "Let them get out. I'm going to park the car." But I watched him from the curb as he peeled out and jerked the car back onto the main road toward the farm. "That was our ride" I said with my eyes as I looked over at Ed but he just said, "Let's go."

I'll spare you the details about the hospital but I just want to let you know that when the nurse asked me about my health insurance, I told her that it was Diane's damn kid that shot me and she's gonna pay for it. All I knew was her phone number but they let me in.

Turns out there wasn't even a BB in my leg. The X-ray showed that it went through my leg so I got a shot from a big needle that made me want to puke and a new band-aid. My legs were hairless and pubescent and I was ashamed of them. Ed and I were turned out onto the streets at 3:30 in the morning. "We gotta hoof it, padre." He said as we started across the parking lot. I had sobered out and my leg started hurting enough to give me a limp and I said, "I can't make it Ed. What are we gonna do?" and he just said, "Follow me."

I followed him into a little 24-hour store and he went to the beverage case and handed me a 40-ouncer of Schlitz Malt Liquor and took one for himself. Don't ask me why the clerk let him buy it. I held my bottle and looked at the silver label and after a moment's pause at the cash register, Ed poked me in the shoulder and we walked out the door.

"Thanks Ed. I don't know if I can drink all of this. Malt liquor's supposed to be extra strong aint it?" I said. "It's a long walk Red. Wait here. I'll be right back." We were in a big parking lot. Must have been a K-Mart or something because there were endless feathers of white parking lines lit up by fluorescent lamps high up on silver poles. Under one of the lights there was a lone Camaro, parked (ignoring the white lines) with its lights off. Ed walked over to the Camaro and as he approached, a window rolled down. He leaned on the door and talked for a bit and then the door opened up and he got in the back seat.

This is where I really started to worry.

Who is this Ed guy? I didn't even know him. He seemed cool and I was glad to have the 40, but was he ever going to get out of that car? Probably never if there were chicks in there, I thought. I stood there for about 10 minutes and drank my beer down to the top of the label. I didn't take a step toward the car. My leg hurt and I didn't know the way back home. I started to think about him in there with those people making fun of me. Laughing at how I got shot with a BB gun.