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They shoot columnists, don't they? 

What possessed me to rise and shine at 7 a.m. a few Fridays ago I have no idea. There were no Christmas presents waiting downstairs. No real job -- thank God -- to slouch off to.

And Momma, well, she wasn’t going to be arraigned until the following Monday. Bless her heart.

But there I was. Wide awake and watching, of all things, Omen IV on HBO. No doubt you’re familiar with the themes of the Omen franchise: mass deception, rampant decapitations, and adolescent anti-Christ wannabes running amok throughout the community. Not to mention the neighbor’s newly planted rosebed.

After about the third murder -- and this is the stuff HBO serves up for kids before they head off to school? No wonder Laidlaw can’t get anybody to drive the little monsters -- it dawned on me that this was the day I had scheduled to venture back out onto the mean cobblestone streets of Savannah.

One of the last columns I wrote for this paper was entitled “The Joy of Crime.” Little did I know that the final three lines of that column would come back to haunt me:

“This is America. What are you going to do? Shoot me?”

Well, last December I got what a lot of Savannahians have received over the years: a bullet through the chest.

I won’t bore you with exact details --not because my lawyer advised me not to, but because it really doesn’t matter. It’s all been said and done before. You pick the scenario. Just remember to keep “innocent victim” and “gang related violence” in the mix.

But like I was saying, after four months of Domino’s deliveries, countless “Surreal Life” marathons and a wheelbarrow of Wellbutin, I decided to go out again. My destination: Forsyth Park, just a few blocks from my aforementioned “gang bang.”

As it happened, Romeo and Juliet was being presented that evening. How appropriate. A play about gang-related violence being held in a public park surrounded by gangs. A Crip here, a Blood there. Bullets flying everywhere.

Needless to say, I didn’t stay long enough to see the play (I heard it was a hit, no pun intended). Still I did run into a few friends. They had to endure me raising my shirt every few seconds like a drunken co-ed on River Street on St. Patrick’s Day. No implants, just bullet wounds. Sorry.

Some friends were horrified and begged me to pull my shirt back down. A few were fascinated and couldn’t take their eyes off the scars.

“Looks like a .22 done got you,” one pal informed me. And each of my friends, I’m sure, wondered if and when it would happen to them.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a day out in Savannah if I didn’t run into a few of the smiling faces I grew up with. Some of these happy haters practically broke a leg racing across the street to greet me.

“I heard you got shot!” each of these grinning faces more or less said. No shirt-lifting for them.

Why do so many native Savannahians thrive on the misfortunes of others? Sad. But as Truman Capote once wrote, “The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.”

As the sun began to set I rushed home like a vampire in reverse. And just as my day began, it ended: Me watching a show whose title seems to sum up my libido these days -- “Deadwood.”

Of course, fans of this ultra-violent, cuss-filled western know “Deadwood” is anything but limp. After about the third murder in this show I suddenly realized how much my wounds, “Deadwood” and Savannah had in common: Completely horrifying and just impossible to stop looking at.



Mark would like to thank Sentient Bean for letting him use their computer to write this on. His was stolen.

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About The Author

Mark  Thomas

Mark Thomas

Bio:
Mark Lawton Thomas is both a former Connect Savannah columnist and local teacher. He now teaches Language Arts in Augusta, Ga., and is the author of the best-selling children's book When Farts Had Colors.

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