Never mind my wheelchair and the 3000-mile round trip from San Francisco – it’s worth it to spend five days with Robert Bly and his circle of artists and thinkers. I always return from the Minnesota Men’s Conference more in touch with myself and the baffling world.
Paul Bendix is author of Dance Without Steps, a book about his journey after becoming the victim of a random attack and shooting near his college campus as a young man. Read an excerpt from Paul’s book below and even more from his website at http://www.paulbendix.com
A June Night
“You got any money?” At this I smiled and shook my head. Everyone in Berkeley wanted spare change. Something collided with my chin. It took a moment to accept that it was a fist. Something salty filled my mouth, along with a loose piece of something sharp. The night, my brisk stroll, everything had stopped. The young men stood waiting. One of them grinned proudly. He was showing me something. It was shiny, silvery like a cap pistol. Guns, real guns like the ones I’d seen on television, were dark, dull metal. I was not going to be fooled and stepped toward the safety of the streetlight. With the bang, which was not terribly loud, my step ceased. Things descended with the gravitational precision of a stage curtain. My puppet body slipped downward, strings cut. The head bounced, then settled in a field of black rocks, the view of an eye resting on pavement.
The head, my head, lifted slightly. Now it was flung, the back of it scraping over the hard roughness below. As the head jerked forward an action shot rolled into view, a foot kicking at my belly. Now I understood that this body, my body, was presumed to be dead, and it was being moved into the shadows, out of sight. The jerking continued, my unfeeling body advancing over the pavement. I recognized a kick to the stomach, not from the impact, but from the aftermath of diaphragm gaspings. Now there was air, welcome air, and with it the panicky knowledge that I had not been breathing. I moaned something, “help.” Footsteps disappeared into the night. A moment, then another “help.”
I raised my head. I had heard the shot and knew approximately what had happened, but there was no explaining why nothing moved but my head. Shock. Perhaps people felt like this in massive shock. People who were dying. “Help.” There was so little air. Compared to the distant sounds of traffic on Shattuck Avenue three blocks away, my moans were barely audible. Too little sound. Too late. “Help.” Worth another try, or was it?