What the flock? I heard a gun shot while looking at screwdrivers. “Eric!?!” I called out. I heard him breathing funny, it didn’t feel right or sound right. Running down the aisle I brought my gun up, leaning around the corner where I heard Eric I saw him hunched over knees bent, his arms were hugging his lower waist, body gently rocking side to side before he fell to the ground. Once he fell I saw someone trying to hide under the clothes rack, that’s when they noticed me raising their gun and started shooting at me. I ducked back behind the aisle hearing several shots go off. Whoever it was they were panicked. Running down the aisle I grabbed a box of fabric softener tossing it over in the other direction, when the box hit the ground I heard two more gunshots then a click. I ran like hell swerving around the aisle where Eric fell, that’s when I saw someone standing up he had a gun in his hand but now he was out of bullets. He reached down grabbing a pocket knife out of his pocket flipping it open. I didn’t have time for this. I aimed at the guys head and pulled the trigger, one shot between the eyes. He jerked back blood splattering on the wall behind him. I stepped up with a front kick to his stomach. He fell back into the clothes rack before slamming to the ground. I inched up to him then reached down checking his pulse, he was dead. “God it hurts…” Eric said roughly. I brought my attention to him noticing the he moved about on the floor slowly, he was visibly in pain. I went over to him. “Hold on buddy” I said pushing him to his back, I was checking for the bullet wound. Inspecting his body I finally saw blood on his right side just outside the abdomen. I let my finger search until I found a hole in his jumpsuit. “Shit it burns…” He moaned. “Eh… You’ll be ok I think, the bullet passed through you, you’re lucky. Can you sit up?” I asked. He took a few gasps of breath before sitting up, he grimaced. “Ow! Shit it hurts man!” He yelled out. I looked around the aisle while kneeled beside Eric. “I have to go get some alcohol, and some change of clothes for you or you could get that wound infected” I got up quickly running up and down the aisles, I’d never been to a dollar store, poor people shopped at these kind of places, I detested these kind of stores. You would always see some fat Mexican lady, or black woman for that matter walking out of these kind of stores. Or some redneck sitting in his truck with ten kids waiting on his white trash woman. I grew up poor and always hated how I was looked at. I grew up in the bottoms on the west side of Columbus, it’s a pretty harsh neighborhood where crack heads, prostitutes, and drug deals on a daily occurrence took place. I didn’t grow up too far from here, the irony, heck to get to my old house you just drove down Central turn right onto Sullivant avenue, then take it down to Princeton and hang a left. I saw these two guys fighting when I was about eight or nine. They were in the middle of the street, it was a hot summer day like it is now. Both were shirtless rolling around the ground scarring up their white skin. Both were bleeding. One of them stood up and ran to his car that was parked on the side of the road the other in pursuit until he saw that the other guy reached in his car pulling out a gun. He didn’t even hesitate, he pulled the trigger killing his recent adversary. I was standing in my yard behind the fence watching it all take place. My mom heard the gun go off, she came running outside scooping me up then took me inside. I didn’t know back then that I just saw a man get killed, not until I was fourteen my older cousin who reveled in talking bull spit told me what I’d really witnessed. Maybe others had no problem living here but for me the weight of being here was unbearable. I had no friends and I preferred to keep it that way, I had secrets that I wanted to keep, and I doubt anyone at West high school wouldn’t have understood. There was one girl that was bi sexual but she was pretty, and a girl therefore was acceptable. Guys always talked about how hot that was. But if they discovered that I was gay? Would be a different story entirely. I always lived in fear that someone at school would somehow mysteriously discover that I was gay and they would call me out. That’s why I was glad when mom met Carl, she hadn’t dated anyone since my dad left her, and dad left mom back when I was around two. I’d never seen him and when mom talked about him I couldn’t recall anything about him, and I didn’t care to look at old photos when mom talked about looking at them. From what I got out of it, dad was scum, that’s all I needed to know. But Carl, he was cool. He respected mom, and I could see in her eyes that she was happy. Plus Carl was a black sash in Wing Chun Kung Fu. He asked me if I wanted to learn and I said yea, at first I did it to make mom happy, then I actually started enjoying it. After a few years I was competing and winning national competitions in Kung Fu. I really enjoyed it because Carl would take me and mom out of Ohio and we’d travel for competitions. Carl said that I had national level skill so it was better than the smaller local competitions. I enjoyed competing, but what I enjoyed most was that we got out of the bottoms if only for awhile. I could leave the world of wondering if someone would discover that I was gay too, I didn’t have to be around the drama of the ghetto, that was so glorious. There was also and added plus to being a national Kung Fu competitor, it made me so popular in school during my senior year, they would’ve never suspected the Kung Fu champ was gay. After graduation mom and Carl got married and we moved into his house out in Grove City. But it seemed like bad luck followed mom when it came to men, she caught him cheating on her, well sort of. He was making out with another woman in his truck in a McDonald’s parking lot not far from home. Mom just happened to be driving home when she saw them. They broke up but Carl left her the house, he made a mistake most certainly but I honestly feel he was a good man. I’d still go to competitions after that but now it was just me and Carl. I competed pretty heavy for about four more years taking top spot everywhere we went, then I stopped when I was twenty eight. It started to wear on me, or maybe I just got tired of running from me. That’s when Carl said we should open up a martial art studio in Grove City. It was a good idea, plus Carl said the money would be good because I was well known, I was on the local news a few times too which would help. I came up with the name Kung Fu City, it was mostly as a joke but it stuck. Carl came up with the ideas for the witty commercials starring me, Kung Fu Chuck. I used some of my money from my winnings, and Carl got a loan for the rest. When the commercials aired late nights they took off and I became this local sensation, people enjoyed the comedy of the commercials. I enjoyed the fame but I didn’t enjoy all the women throwing themselves at me. When things really took off I was a thirty year old gay virgin making good money from Kung Fu City martial arts studio. But what I really wanted was to be able to breath, and live my life openly, and find someone to fall in love with. I’d never told anyone that I was gay, I never found anyone that I was comfortable with to talk about it. Carl was like a father but he was fond of racial jokes, and fag jokes when no one was listening but his white buddies. Mom? I don’t know how she would’ve reacted. I finally got up enough courage and called her one day, I was tired of lying and hiding. I didn’t want to talk about it over the phone, I told her I’d be by after my workout. That was on Sunday, the day the infection broke into the streets.

I took a deep breath bringing me back to reality.

I found the rubbing alcohol then glanced outside, I knew it was still early but it concerned me that Eric was injured. That meant a slow trek back, furthermore it might not be a good idea for Eric to be walking in his condition. We had to do something, I just didn’t know what yet. We could sure use some luck about now.