Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Right Place at the Wrong Time?

This album cover is pure synchronicity

I always seem to find myself in the right place at the wrong time or vice-versa. This week has been no exception. Inviting old friends to dinner at a city centre traditional tavern seemed liked a nice idea. I needed to return a favour, as is the usual custom, to pay back like with like.

The little street tavern was a place I’d visited once before and enjoyed the al fresco experience with live folk music accompaniment emanating above the constant flow of traffic. The food was served on time and delicious, and the beer was ice cold and thirst quenching in 40 degree heat.

I loved those little pita bread spicy dips and the garlic chicken, and hoped my friends would too.
As the evening got underway and the street tavern overflowed with people and night air filled with songs, no one expected the revelry to come to an abrupt halt just before midnight. Hot evenings like these usually stay alive ‘til at least 3.00am.

A few tables to the left of me stood a young man, maybe in his twenties, bare-chested, holding his t-shirt on his stomach, blood gushing from his torso. He had just appeared from around the corner and walked straight into the throng of tables. He shouted, ‘Help me, I’ve been stabbed, I’m going to die!’

For what felt like minutes, but was really only about 4 seconds, everyone on the street stopped what they were doing and looked at the man. It felt almost like a staged scene, or a teenager playing a sick joke on the diners. Realisation that this was really a man in mortal danger suddenly kicked in. 

People got up and ran over to him as he continued shouting, ‘I’m going to die, I’m dying!’ People sitting closest to the man began shouting for help; mobile phones came out of pockets while a man ran off to find a nearby police officer patrolling the adjacent tourist district.

Another diner held the wounded man down on the ground while another pressed tightly on the wound with his bare hands to stop the flow of blood which helped only a little bit but kept the victim conscious. A waitress sat next to him and talked to him, asking him what had happened but he wouldn’t say who had stabbed him. A woman sitting on a table opposite was crying uncontrollably, obviously in shock. An older woman tried to console her to no avail. 

Someone in the throng shouted a statement about how everyone on the island had gone mad and it’s a disgrace or something.

My friends and I watched from our table in shock. I didn’t approach, there was nothing I could do, and I’d seen enough blood already. My friend George made a call to the emergency services, as did several others. The police arrived within ten minutes closely followed by an ambulance. 

Someone shouted, ‘There’s another one!’ and two officers ran off down the street. It could have been the knifer but by the time we left the tavern people were saying there was a second victim, and the attempted murder was part of a vendetta amongst the migrant Asian community.

The following morning everything was back to normal, barely a mention in the news, the condition of the victim still unknown, his attacker, well who knows?

A day passes and I find myself in a local department store, needing a cold coffee and some relief from the sweltering heat outside, I head to the upper floors where the A/C is good. I notice a red box on the wall near the escalator with white lettering that reads. ‘Emergency Close Down’. I wonder about it as I’ve never seen it before so it might be a new warning sign. Within the space of a minute the alarms go off, flashing red alert. 

A sales assistant tells me and the few straggling shoppers to stay where we are, ‘Don’t move!’ she says. A woman standing next to me quizzes her about what is going on. There could be a fire or a false alarm she replies. A male shopper wants to know if he can go upstairs to buy shoes. 

Still a bit shaken from the previous day I follow instructions and wait for the all clear which never comes. A mumbled voice over the tannoy bilingually announces that we must wait for further instructions like something out of ‘Lost’.  

The alarm goes silent and people carry on as if nothing happened, using the now frozen escalators. I tell the sales assistant that it was a bit freaky looking at the new sign as it went off, she tells me to buy a lottery ticket quick! I decide to leave via the stairs, right back out into the 43 degree heat.

Being in the right place at the wrong time and vice-versa is historically quite common. The consequences of which can often be far reaching. One hundred years to the day Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, by Gavrilo Princip, a member of ‘Young Bosnia’, one of a group of assassins organized by the ‘Black Hand’.  

Earlier in the day, the couple’s car had been attacked with a grenade that missed. However, a bomb detonated behind them, hurting occupants in another car. After a short rest the royal couple insisted on seeing all those who had been injured by the bomb at the local hospital. 

No one informed the drivers that the itinerary had been changed. When the error was discovered, the drivers had to turn around. As the cars backed down onto a side street, the line of cars stalled. At this same time, Princip was sitting at a cafe across the street. He instantly seized his opportunity and walked across the street and shot the royal couple. World War and the rest is history as they say.

I have no idea who Dr. John is but enjoy...

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