I had seen Kim working the streets since the beginning of my life in my old house. She was a really "sassy walker" to say the least. Street talk was she "could strut her stuff" or she was "doggin' it". Either way, those were mild understatements. She could twist her rear end smoother and faster than a Maytag washing machine.
It was a hot night in June. I'd worked on building my garage all day. If you don't know about Texas in June - it's hotter than a pepper patch - like when you walk outside and try to make it to your car, there isn't anything on you dry. Hot. I'd decided a long hot bubble bath, candles and a glass of wine would do the trick to relax my aching muscles.
I had been in that Calgon take me away about twenty minutes when I heard a scream. A woman was hollering, "HELP ME!! PLEEEEZE SOMEONE HELP ME!"
By this time in my adventure of living here, I had already endured a lot of "help me's" that were more like the little boy calling wolf when nothing had happened.. This one seemed to have a "Coca Cola" ring to it - like it was "the real thing". I jumped, grabbed a bathrobe and ran out of the house barefooted.
At first I thought the scream was from my front porch, but once outside, I realized it was next door. I jumped the fence, darn near got my robe caught on the prongs on top and got to the screaming gal laying on the ground. I'm sure my jumping the fence would've made the Funniest Videos! But, in a lurch, fluffy girls can run.
"Ms. Lin, you gots to help me you gots to help me!" she was screaming.
"Kim, if you scream at me one more time I'm gonna knock you out - now shut up screaming and tell me what's wrong."
"Ms Lin, he shot me in the butt!"
"WHO shot you in the butt - WHAT? Who shot you in the butt?"
"My date. He wanted oral sex and I didn't like what it looked like so I said no and when I got out of his car he shot me in the butt!"
Kim was laying on her stomach with both hands reaching toward her buttocks. Those hands were not 'just' on the buttocks, she had a grip on them like she had been switched with a young peach tree limb. Reminded me of a child's reaction after he really messed up and a mama went on the warpath and tore his hind-end up.
"Ohhh pleeeeze, Ms. Lin, help me it hurts."
I hollered at another neighbor to "call 9-1-1 and get me an ambulance out here."
"Ohhhh Ms. Lin, you can fix it you done sewed up a bunch of us when we got beat up you can fix it."
"Kim, I can't fix this - hold still - I'm gonna rip your britches and let me see the bullet wound."
"But, it huuuurrrts"
"KIM" I was shouting at this point, "SHUT UP! And, let me look"
I happened to have had my watch on. Took the blood pressure, checked the pulse - she was going to live, but was going into shock. I knew from the trajectory of the bullet and that it been a small hand gun wound and that the bullet had not come out the other side and was floating inside of her.
"Kim, is there someone we can call? Kim, don't you pass out on me now - wake yourself up - Kim..."
"Ma'am?" she was passing in and out.
"Who do we call?"
"What's her number"
I sent the neighbor to go call the Mama, "tell her to meet the ambulance at Baptist that's where I'd send her."
After he left, I realized that I had rattled off orders like a Marine Drill Sergeant and was fearful that the neighbor didn't grasp all that I had said. Nevertheless, he headed off for the phone.
I ripped her outer pants. I wasn't surprised that she didn't have any step-ins, er underwear on. Most of these street girls wouldn't waste the time to wear a second layer.
"Where is that ambulance?" I kept thinking. I've got my knee in the middle of her back keeping her still to try to keep the bullet from continue to float around inside of her. I figure the bullet was either inside her bladder or had torn her uterus up.
"Kim, tell me what happened again before the law gets here and shut up shouting and you better not go to sleep on me. Dammit you know better than to be out on the street like this and you know bad stuff happens. BE STILL"
I was getting frustrated with her. I kept check of her pulse. I ordered someone else to hand me a quilt or blanket or something. "Not mine, not on her" one person told me.
"If you don't get your skinny black butt in that house and get me something to cover her up you WILL NOT like me when I get done with her" I hoped that sounded forceful enough. I'd learned long ago to get the first bluff in and I'd probably be the winner and get what I wanted!
I got a blanket for her.
"Kim, what happened?"
"I wouldn't give him a blow job because.....ooooh it hurts so bad."
"Kim, did he pay you?"
"Yes, but it didn't look too good and I just didn't want to do it."
"Kim you gotta be still. You've got a bullet in you and from the looks of your lower abdomen that sucker is floating in there." I didn't tell her that she was swelling up like she was nine months pregnant. I figured she had some serious damages.
"Oh, Ms. Lin, please don't leave me."
"I thought you didn't like me"
"Ms. Lin you a real bitch sometimes, but I know you are a nice lady, please don't leave me"
"Kim, I'm not going to leave you, but SHUT UP SHOUTING! I know that it hurts but I'm right here and so are the medics"
Boy, was I EVER glad and grateful that the medics had finally gotten there, because honestly I didn't know how much longer I could have kept her still and lying down.
"LinMarie, what's her pulse rate" EMS had already taught me what to look for, how to do it, I'd bandaged and doctored many of these street girls, gardeners, ho-s - over the last year or so since I'd been here.
"Pulse rate is 135 ...subject has been shot in the left buttocks by a small handgun..small amount of bleeding.." I was spouting off what I had learned from the first incidents that had happened around this neighborhood.
"Good going, LinMarie. We'll take it from here."
"Kim the medics are here now. They're going to take you to Baptist Hospital. I've got your mama going there to meet you. You are going to be fine."
I wasn't sure she was going to be fine.
Here came the cops. "Did you see anything? What happened?" Questions from the three cops were swirling about in the night air. I did not have the answers, only what I was told.
All of these same questions have been asked hundreds of times over the years. I wondered if these people ever got tired of picking up hookers that had been beaten up or shot, and I wondered how this girl's mother was feeling.
I called her mother the next day to check on Kim. I learned she had been kept in ICU after having an emergency hysterectomy. Having undergone one myself, I knew that surgery wasn't a walk in the park. The bullet was from a .25 automatic. No suspect had been arrested. In fact, Kim didn't even know who the guy was that shot her. "Some dude in a fancy mercedes with lots of diamond rings - white dude."
The mother voluntarily told me that Kim was from a Christian home and family. I didn't need an explanation. This was none of my business. "You are the lady that Kim says helps the girls. Kim said you give them food and clothes and sew them up sometimes. I thank you for taking care of them."
Kim still works the streets. I pray that I won't pick up the paper one day and see her obituary. She wouldn't be the first to have died at the hands of the thugs of the streets and she probably wouldn't be the last.
I just pray that no one ever dies while I'm holding them in my arms. It could happen. I don't want it to, though. So, in the evenings, now, part of my prayers are for the girls of the streets. And, maybe in some small way, I've been a little help to them. Just maybe I've been called on to be here for that reason. So, maybe I had better stay here on my corner for a little while longer instead of fostering a desire to leave.