Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Death Takes a Holiday

I saw a guy get shot in Sri Lanka last month.

Actually I didn't see the guy get shot, I just heard him get shot.

It was a quiet beach bar in Hikkaduwa -- it was only about 10:00pm and a few tourists were sitting around drinking quietly.

When I entered, I had seen a group of those pseudo-Rasta beach boy types that live around most tourist areas. From Ecuador to Costa Rica to Thailand, the languages and nationalities might be different, but the guys look very similar -- camouflage cargo shorts, Bob Marley t-shirts, dreds and tattoos; these are the guys who sell the dope, tend the bars, do the surf instructing, and hit on all the tourist chicks.

I was standing there sipping my beer, looking the other way, and I heard, "POP POP! POP POP POP POP POP! POP POP!"

Fireworks had been going off on the beach all evening, so nobody thought much about it. It sounded exactly like firecrackers.

But then the security guards started running towards the bathroom, and a guy covered with blood came out.

He was walking pretty steadily, for all the blood. He wasn't screaming or anything. He was more sort of like, "Awww, shit!"

The dozen or so tourists in the bar began to vacate onto the beach, at this point.

And I walked right by one of the Rasta beachboy guys, holding a small handgun. (Of a brand I didn't recognize.)

I would assume he was the murderer, but I guess he might have just been another guy with a gun there.

Later I heard three guys died, but you know how those stories grow.

"I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter." -- Winston Churchill

Something similar happened in Vodkaberg back in 2007

For all that tactical training I did a couple years ago, I was mostly standing there like an idiot the whole time, an easy target doing not much.

(I did take the opportunity when I fled to grab a purse some Russian girls had left behind, and return it to them and take the opportunity to get acquainted.)

So that's death. Swooping in when you least expect it.

"I'm not afraid of death, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen

I mean really, unless you're in wartime, how are you supposed to keep that ready-for-anything mentality? You go to every beach bar expecting a shootout? Jesus Christ you'd lose your mind.

Now, when I was in the Maldives with the Gilfriend last year, we saw a guy who had died of a sudden heart attack (or stroke, maybe something sudden and final.) A big older Russian guy. We were on a day tour to a resort island, and we walked down to the end of the beach and back, and a guy was down on the sand, with some people trying to do CPR.

It apparently didn't succeed. We saw the tearful family making calls to their embassy in the reception area later.

(A logistical nightmare as well as an emotional nightmare, I'm sure.)

"I intend to live forever or die trying." -- Groucho Marx

That took me back to another beach death I saw in Koh Pi Pi back in 1995. A group of teachers were there for the Christmas holidays, and we saw some divers out in the middle of the lagoon thing there on a rock waving and yelling for help. They'd found a swimmer lying at the bottom, and they and the rescue unit got the guy dragged to shore.

But he was dead already; sand was coming out of his mouth when they gave him CPR. The guy's mother was there, too, horrifically, screaming and wondering why her son was dead.

(I wonder? Cramp? Something stung him? Just choked on a mouthful of water? Just some kind of random medical condition?)

Other than that, I guess I've seen like a half-dozen or so people dead in traffic accidents on the side of the road or whatever.

"Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be glad it happens in that order." -- David Gerrold


Anonymous said...

I just saw a dude die a few weeks ago. Saw him drinking on some steps as I was walking into a connivence store, when I came out he was on the ground dead.

Pretty young looking guy too. I wasn't sure if I should do CPR or anything, but I don't speak the local language so I just let the locals handle it.

Threw me off for a few days though. Being close to death is definitely unnerving.

Anonymous said...

In the end, death gives all of us an enema.