Man with a package

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The day was gray and overcast. I had to deliver a small parcel in a neighborhood on the north side of Edmonton when I heard the nearby shots. The neighborhood had recently become a locus of gang activity and I knew it, pedaling through reluctantly, but it was particularly quiet that day until I heard the shots. I immediately plunged the bicycle into some roadside brush, scratching myself up and landing awkwardly on my right side. My memory becomes a bit vague after I fell off the bike but I remember that the package had been opened by the security police and then re-sealed before I came into possession of it. I don’t remember the name of the recipient of the package but I remember it was a woman who had begun teaching at the new college there in Edmonton, an intellectual with supposed subversive leanings, a focus of the local security police. I craned my head over the brush to see where the shots may have come from and there was a man near me dressed in all black. He even had a black mask covering his face. The man jumped out from behind a parked sedan with a silver pistol in each hand. He fired three or four rounds down toward the other end of the street and then he darted back behind the sedan. I tried to see who he was firing at and what sounded like rifle fire was returned to the man behind the sedan, tearing a chunk from the vehicle’s passenger side.

I thought I might be able to crawl out of the bushes and get my bicycle and ride out of there. I thought that maybe they would recognize my navy blue uniform and let me go, let me ride peacefully out of there, how stupid of me, and just as I got the bike upright with a leg astride it a bullet sung past my neck and then another ricocheted off something behind me and buried itself into my shoulder, knocking me off the bike. I felt like I’d been punched by an ape. I felt another shot explode into the ground near me and I remember thinking that whoever shot me must have thought my uniform was black like the gunman’s. The pain welled up inside and right before I passed out my eyes focused on the parcel and the name printed on the label and I realized I’d been delivering it to the wrong address.

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