coming home from our soccer practice today, mo and i witnessed an assault: two guys hitting and kicking a third guy, punching him in the gut, kicking him in the kidneys, kicking him in the face -- the face! -- once he'd fallen to the ground, right on 124th street. it's the grossest thing i've ever seen in real life, though even now i have to say that witnessing the assault itself, through the vehicle's window frame, seems like something i saw on TV, it's so far beyond my normal experience of the world.
i still don't know what i feel. i don't know what the word is for that kind of shock (why us? why then? what if we'd left two minutes earlier, half an hour later?) and horror (two on one, the kidneys, the face) and relief (that it didn't last longer, that there were two cops a block down the road) and fear (that's our neighbourhood). distress, perhaps. dismay?
the assailants ran into an apartment building when we turned around, and the cops pulled up, and another car slowed. the police officers went after the assailants so for a while it was just the weird april snow falling on this thin middle-aged man lying crunched up and completely quiet in a driveway. other people stopped. a taurus-driving white guy, scrawny, with a big cowboy hat and a cellphone holder on his leather belt got to the victim first. then a middle-class woman in a minivan -- you know the one: well-kempt, solid, pleasant -- hurried over; she too had a cellphone, but when she realized emergency services were on the way she went back to the van for a fleece jacket which she laid over the victim. she wanted especially to find a way to use the arm of the jacket to cradle his head, which was bleeding. i was really touched by that. it was a good fleece jacket and you know she's not going to see it again, but she did not hesitate. a church lady, that one whose garden you'd never let your dog wander into, hung back a little way. she wanted to be sure the cops would "catch the creeps."
we stood around until more police cars came, and then the fire engines with paramedics and finally the ambulance. once the victim had been loaded into the ambulance another paramedic sprayed something onto the small pool of blood left behind on the sidewalk; it foamed like seafoam, but pink. then just the snow, and a long drive six blocks home.