By Patricia Hurst

The “kill zone” is the brain, not the heart, because the heartbeatless can live and move just fine for ten full seconds. Books and movies lie and people believe them; the shot don’t fly backwards, or swoon dramatically, or gush crimson-red blood. Death comes even to those who aren’t Xtreme Sports enthusiasts or death row inmates or warmongering gun collectors with well-stocked, underground bunkers, or even guys who love old war movies and root for John Wayne. I’m a writer.

Oh shit, I said, and that’s all. Death is an annoying crazy man in a khaki coat and ragged jeans who normally washes car windshields at the 43rd Street stoplight for a buck, but today waltzes up to a car, puts a gun in the driver’s side open window and robs the words right out of an otherwise wordy head. A gunshot sounds like a firecracker. A woman dressed in pink screams like a buzz saw on metal. Full purses and fancy shopping bags explode when dropped. Startled people scatter instantly, much like kitchen cockroaches caught by a midnight snacker. An eighty-pound boy can pick up a sixty-pound dog and run with it. Cars brakes work even without their drivers; drivers disappear faster than startled cockroaches. Crazies in khaki coats and ragged jeans don’t run away from something bad—they walk.

A street can clear out in moments. Writers don’t always carry paper or pens or cell phones. Green lights don’t guarantee forward movement anymore than reds guarantee no movement. A streetlight changes color with an audible click. Neon signs buzz like bug zappers. The dead can breathe and don’t let go of steering wheels, and leisurely departing shoes in a normally busy intersection make very loud sounds.

Writers want to jot down experiences, no matter what they are.

Harmless crazies aren’t harmless. A gun is holstered in the jeans’ waistband against the small of the back, hidden under a khaki coat. People don’t rush to help like they do in the movies. The dead don’t bleed that much and cold is cold, even in July.


Contrary to popular belief, Patricia Hurst is neither a bank robber nor an heiress, mainly because her last name isn’t spelled the same. Had it been, she might have been.
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