I have this amazing friend named Jared. We've been buds since the day we met in college. Jared and I often go out seeking exciting adventures and we are never disappointed. Something about our combined energies causes the world around us to go utterly insane. I have no complaints about this because it makes for some awesome stories, even though it has placed us in some awkward, uncomfortable, and even potentially dangerous situations.
To wit, Jared and I decided to get together over Christmas break a few years ago. We met for dinner and some excellent conversation, then to go see a movie for which I had bought tickets earlier that day. The theater was inside a big mall, so thence we went. We walked across the packed parking lot full of happiness. Christmas lights were in the trees, music was in the air, and gladness was in our hearts.
As we approached the entrance, we noticed a police car parked by the curb. One officer was outside the vehicle, leaning against the passenger side talking to another officer seated in the car. The lights weren't flashing and they didn't seem distressed. I didn't give it a second thought at the time. But a strange thing happened as we walked through the doors. The mall seemed eerily abandoned for a pre-holiday evening at the mall. There were only a few people milling around a seating area outside the Sears just across from the movie theater. Again, it struck me as weird, but I didn't worry about it. We were a little early for our movie, so we started wandering. And, of course, our footsteps took us toward the very Sears Department Store outside which the few visible people were loitering.
What I saw: A couple scurrying quickly toward the exit doors, looking steadfastly forward.
What I thought: "La la la, the mall is fun! Oooh, pretty coat!"
What I saw: A group of young men wearing exceedingly baggy jeans, white t-shirts and various long, dangly necklaces and chains, nervously pacing.
What I thought: "Doo dee doo, Jared's my friend."
What I saw: Another young man sitting in a chair, his back towards me. He looked up at me as I brushed past him. I glanced down. Face. Open wounds. Blood dripping all over.
What I thought: "Whoa! What the... AHHHH!"
With no subtlety whatsoever, I grabbed Jared's arm and jogged briskly into the Sears and behind a shelf of high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Out of breath, we looked wide-eyed at each other for a second or two, then started babbling, "Oh my gosh! Did you see that guy?! Holy crap, his face was all like... and his blood was all over... and we were like... and what the heck?!?"
Once some of the adrenaline had subsided, we did the smartest thing we could possibly have done. We wanted a second look. So we oh so slowly and sneekily peeked our heads out from behind the shelf. And wouldn't you know it, we made such a scene from our first encounter that the whole group of guys were still watching the shelf behind which we had disappeared! Eye contact with the bloody guy! AHHHH! We jumped back behind the shelf, horrified.
With that we decided the best course of action would be to not exit the store the way we entered, thus making a third impression on the bloody fellow and his cohorts. We set off through the store to find another exit. We followed the labyrinth of tiled floor to an escalator going down, around small appliances and women's shoes until we finally found an exit. Several minutes had passed, and as we walked back toward the theater and, consequently, the crime scene, we noticed several police officers walking amongst the group of boys, some talking, some writing reports. There were some medical personnel on the scene tending to the bloody faced guy. Mall traffic was almost back to normal, people were going in and out of shops freely. We went to our movie and escaped any further involvement in the situation.
The next day, I went on the trusty intranets and searched to see if it could shed any light on the specifics of the night before. I came upon the story. Two opposing gangs had begun arguing in the food court. It escalated into a full-fledged gang fight. One participator had been... you guessed it... BRASS KNUCKLED IN THE FACE!
My theory is that we walked into that thing mere moments after it happened. I think those police officers we passed outside either hadn't even been notified yet or were the first on the scene and were waiting for some kind of back-up. I think the gang with the brass knuckler had already fled the scene and the guys that were still there were with face guy. I'm just glad Jared and I didn't have to see the actual violence perpetrated because I hate violence. It makes me extremely sad and uncomfortable.
Although I am kind of disappointed I didn't get to see the part where they danced around, snapping their fingers, bounding off the walls and singing their gang names back and forth at each other. That I would have liked to see.