I am trying to move into a cool spot. It’s hot or I’m hot. I can’t tell anymore in the heat and humidity of Florida. The dark restaurant parking lot is shared by another RV, a big one about 50 feet away. It is very quiet as usual here at night as the Cracker Barrel serves no alcohol, closes at 10 PM, and is always set next to hotels and corporate office complexes. I can see dimly inside of our van due to some security lights in the parking lot, next to an unlit construction site. Quiet, I am just resting, until I hear a “Cra-a-a-ck!”, clearly a gunshot…very close, right next to our van. I feel the adrenaline push me into a fully alert state, ears attuned, brain engaged. “Don’t sit up!” I counsel myself, “Go to the floor!”
Should I wake Steven or would he sit up and expose himself to more risk? What should I do? What should I do? The floor would provide extra barriers from all sides, lined with refrigerators, toilets, storage, and the engine. Shit! This is so scary! Without his hearing aids, he will likely sleep through this, but if I wake him he may sit up. What should I do? “Cra-a-a-ck!”, the second gunshot reports, just as close, right behind our heads. Oh No! Are we being fired on? Then I hear a voice, an adult woman or higher pitched young male, “Get the Camera, ….” followed by a name I don’t remember later. I resolve not to move, as the best course of action.”Cra-a-a-ck!” The third blast of the gun. I lie there wondering if they killed someone or an animal and now are getting a trophy picture. Oh Crap! I am paralyzed with fear. Don’t move! Don’t move!
I don’t sit up until I hear a diesel engine start, and then recede into the distance. I hear three more, “Crack! Crack! Crack! …in quick succession, sounding perhaps a block away. Is that more shots being fired…or the cracking of ejected cartridges? I finally sit up and peek out to the construction site…dark, still. I peek out the other window toward the neighboring RV…no lights. I wonder if they are quivering in the dark like me? …or have a weapon drawn, ready to defend themselves? I want to go out and check to see if there is an injured animal or person there, but I am too scared.
At 6:00 AM, when I hear vehicle movement and the restaurant workers arrive, I go out and look around. There are no shell casings, no dead bodies, just an open construction site littered with piles of sand, cement, plywood, and discarded packaging. No clues as to what went on last night. No RV neighbors anymore either. Just a quiet dawn at the Cracker Barrel. Perhaps the shooting was just some teens showing off with weapons for the camera at any empty construction site. Maybe.
We both detest the idea of being, “sitting ducks”, senseless victims of crime. We are now reconsidering the wisdom of getting weapons training, licensing, and permits required to possess a firearm. Violence begets Fear, Fear begets Violence. An ugly cycle, but one we want to survive.