– Concrete Reactions –

Standing over a limp body, Sam Hayes stares at the back of a shaven head, and feels the blood streaming through his veins.  The tunnel vision begins to fade, his fists unclench.  The people surrounding him on the sidewalk outside of Barnes Bar stare at him with their jaws slack.  Sam’s head swivels slow, left and right, seeing the people for the first time since he felt the push from behind.
Moments earlier as he was leaving the bar, a heavy hand pressed into the middle of his back and shoved him out into the cold.  He didn’t hesitate, spinning around with his fist already in flight.  As the knuckles of his right hand connected with the jaw of the much bigger, burly man he balled his left fist and landed a devastating punch to the right temple.  The man dropped immediately to his knees without a chance for rebuttal.  His eyes rolled back into his skull.  But Samuel Hayes never noticed.  His right fist was already dialed in to the helpless mans face.
The sound of the bridge of his nose cracking was like a tree branch snapping under the weight of heavy ice.  The mans nose exploded with a rush of red blood.  The man, unconscious, dropped forward to the pavement, his forehead splintering against the concrete sidewalk and scraped forward as the weight of his body forced itself flat.

Sam’s natural instincts tells him to run.  The cops would surely be just a shout away on this crowded downtown street.  The last thing he needs is another scrape with the police.  His rap sheet began at the age of fourteen and has continued to accrue a bevy of minor misdemeanors, with a few felonies sprinkled in for seasoning, ever since.

His feet stay in place though.

A strong arm grabs his wrist and a forearm wraps around his neck from behind, pulling him to the ground.  Sam does not resist.  His face is pushed against the sidewalk as his wrists feel the familiar cold steel wrapping around them.
The face of the unconscious man, lying just a few feet away, screams itself into his brain.  He recognizes the mans face from somewhere in the haze of the liquor-fueled night.  Clips flash through his mind:  the man toasting the group around him at the bar; singing at the top of his lungs to every classic rock song blaring from the jukebox; from down the bar, ordering the bartender to fill Sam’s shot glass, declaring that no one drinks alone on his watch.
Someone shouting the mans name.
Alex.
The mans name is Alex.

Amidst the noise of the street and crowd, Sam hears the voice of a man speaking with one of the police officers.
“Alex saw him as we were paying our tabs and said he was going to see if he wanted to come back to the house and party with us for the rest of the night.  He just wanted to make sure the guy wasn’t alone.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and Alex wanted that guy to have a good time tonight even if he has no one else in his life.  He just wanted to show him a good time… he just wanted to party with him… next thing I knew… fucking bastard.”  The word bastard drips with disdain.
” What kind of person…”  The voice trails off, losing itself in hate and disbelief.

Paramedics, with flashing lights, arrive.  They begin assessing Alex’s state; checking for a pulse, for breathing, for signs of consciousness.
Hesitantly, Sam asks the nearest E.M.T., “Will he be ok?”

“We don’t know yet,” the woman responds, “but you better hope so.”

The police officer lifts Sam to his feet, and forces him towards the black and white cop cruiser at the edge of the sidewalk.  The cop places a hand on top of Sam’s head and guides it into the backseat, closing the door once he is fully inside.

Sam’s eyes keep transfixed to the motionless body of the man named Alex, so big in both size and personality, who only wanted to be a friend to Sam.

As the officer gets in the drivers seat, turning the ignition, the paramedics lift Alex’s body onto the white and metal stretcher.  The paramedics strap his body onto the gurney for support, and begin wheeling him to the open doors of the ambulance.  Just as Sam feels the lurch of the cop car beginning to pull away, he takes a last glance at the face on the stretcher.

Alex’s eyelids lay half open, his mouth moving just slight as he responds to the questions from the female E.M.T.

Sam silently offers his apology, knowing that no one can hear it and that, probably, no one would care if they could.

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One Response to “– Concrete Reactions –”

  1. Shay Baugh Says:

    I was riveted to the words on my screen….I felt as if I were standing there, watching, hearing the thunk of fist on flesh. I already want to know more about Sam….my interest in delving into the human psyche has been piqued. This has definitely succeeded in whetting my appetite for the next part of the story…

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