I crossed the City on Bienville St., toward my apartment on Governor Nicholls St. in the French Quarter. As I approached the I-10 overpass, I passed a car stopped in the oncoming lane. I didn't really think about it at first, since New Orleanians have a nasty habit of stopping right in the middle of the road to talk to one another. But, as I got about ten feet past, my mind's eye saw the blown out driver's window, and the baseball cap laying across the back of the driver's seat. I reversed.
As I rolled backwards, I could hear "help me," from the vehicle. I looked across as I came even with the driver's door. There was a young man sleeping on the seat. Check that. There was a young man dying on the seat.
The young man had taken at least one round in the neck, and possibly one in the head. There were at least twenty bullet holes in the car. And not the academic happened-a-while-ago-and-may-have-been-staged kind. The really-just-happened-some-thirty-seconds-ago kind.
I hopped out of the car, and the young lady (who would turn out to be fourteen years old) crawled over the driver and spilled out onto the street. I did everything I could to convince her that she shouldn't move. "Just sit down. Don't move." and went to grab my cellphone to get 911 on the line.
"Hurry mister... I'm bout to die," I heard from the girl. She wasn't. But she was awfully bloody, and she was certainly in pain.
I stopped, and looked back at her bloody shorts and shirt, checking to see if she really had been shot. I thought not. (I was wrong). This was just before I saw the blue lights from the multitude of police cruisers arriving on the scene.
After the swarm of officers stabilized somewhat, I asked one of them what they needed from me. He simply asked what I saw. Nothing.
"Go on home, you don't need to be here."
Relieved, I walked back to my car. Just before I opened the door, I looked back at the young man in the driver's seat. Our eyes briefly met.
I think I was the last face he ever saw.