The Witness

Panic on his face, he turned and sprinted away. Away from the other man who started to yell for help.

“Ow! Ow! Oh God! Ow! Ow! Someone help! Help me!”

His voice was serious, tense. Restrained in a peculiar way. It was not a deep bellow or a frightened scream, but it was certain. Something bad just happened.

The sprinting man was headed toward me. I felt my heart pounding in my chest. Then, up into my throat.


I am walking down the street. Hearing some sort of scuffle kitty-corner to me, I pick my head up to see two men fighting. At first, I can’t tell if they are messing around. You know, like ‘bros’ do. So I watch. I walk and I watch. I approach the corner, ready to turn toward a delicious lunch waiting for me in the nearby cafe, when I hear the argument escalate. Cuss words. “Fuck yous” and the like, but I cannot establish what the fight is about.

The man with his back to me leans slightly. Then he reaches behind, swiftly lifts his arm, and pulls something out. I hope he doesn’t have a gun. I begin to dial 911. My hands are shaking like they do every time, no matter how mundane the reason. Really, if you’re questioning whether or not ‘someone should call the police,’ you should call.

“You’ve reached the Portland Police. If this is an emergency, please press one or say 9-1-1.”

What the hell? I dialed 9-1-1. Of course it’s an emergency! Watching with wide eyes, hoping to absorb every last detail, I see the man whose back is toward me lunge forward. Shit. Breathing heavily, I exclaim in a strangled voice, “NINE. ONE .ONE.”

“You’ve reached the Portland Police dispatch, please state your emergency.”

“I just witnessed an altercation between two men. They were fighting, punching one another and cussing. I’m not sure what happened but one guy lunged at the other. He turned and sprinted away as the other one started to yell for help. He’s hurt, seems to be hurt pretty bad.”

“Can you describe him?”

Dressed in dark, loose clothing, the man with the beard sprints northbound. Then, reaching the corner diagonally across from me, he turns and sprints east. I’m guessing he is in his 40s or 50s. White. Bearded. He looks guilty. Guilty as sin and fucking terrified.

The other man lies in the street. How did he get from the sidewalk near the buildings into the street? I can only see his legs. He is on his side, and his legs are bent slightly and shaking. He is shaking. Lying in the street. The sirens are howling now, on their way.

“The guy’s in the street. He needs an ambulance. Is there an ambulance on the way?”

“Yes, ma’am. I believe we’ve got another person on the line too. The medic is almost there. What’s your name and phone number?”

I give him my information and hang up. I look at my phone, whose screen says “EMERGENCY MODE.” I remember the last time I had to call 911, for her. I’m glad that turned out okay. My heart is still pounding. What does ‘EMERGENCY MODE’ even mean? Does it have special powers?

I walk away from the street corner in disbelief. The cafe is only two doors down. A woman passes me just now, obliviously transfixed. Her face in her phone. She nearly runs into me. Others are all around. It’s 12 o’clock noon, after all. No one seems to notice. Not a clue. I am walking slowly, intent heavy in each step. Or is it each thought? I can’t be sure. There are so many of them. More thoughts than steps though.

I reached the door. The cafe was a vegan joint. I’m not vegan but from the Yelp review, I deduced that they would care about the ingredients in their food and craft wonderful flavor combinations. Wrapped into one perfect combination, the massage, yoga, and vegan cafe establishment was oddly overstimulating. The open floor plan felt expansive. The voices bounced and cascaded into an indecipherable mass, hitting my ears with jarring reality. The noise was bothersome but the smell inviting. So I stayed and ordered the chili bowl and a kombucha. With as much grace and manners as I could muster, I shoveled forkfuls of mouth-watering slop into my mouth.

What the hell just happened? I think I just witnessed a stabbing.

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Erin Anacker

I'm Erin Anacker, founder of pixology—a nimble little business infiltrating the design industry as an ardent voice for entrepreneurship and community. As a Tri Cities transplant, I am still finding my way, working extra hard at cultivating meaningful relationships. Luckily, I've happened upon a wonderful, growing community. These creative thinkers and entrepreneurial minded people are helping light the way, with passion and encouragement.

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