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The Power of Love: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye


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A black hole is a celestial body so named because its force of gravity is such that not even light can escape. Science fiction authors have depicted such weird phenomena as portals to strange dimensions or wormholes leading Lord-knows-where. Astronomers recognize such stuff because, when juxtaposed against the inky deadness of space, a black hole is a special kind of dark. Down here on earth, gunshot wounds are a comparably special kind of dark. When studied up close, a gunshot wound can offer a glimpse into a bad man’s soul.

The man walked in to the inner city ER where I toiled with his injured girlfriend in tow. He was distraught, affectionate and hovering. She was shot through the head but conscious.

It never seems to be quite like the movies. In this case, this otherwise-healthy 20-something young woman had been shot in the left temple with a small-caliber handgun. Her left eye protruded grotesquely, but she still walked into the Emergency Department under her own power and remained an engaging conversationalist. I naturally inquired regarding the details.

Her boyfriend carried a gun every day. So do I. Down here in the Deep South, that’s not terribly unusual. She said when he got home from work or whatever it was he did, he removed the weapon and placed it gently on the dresser. The gun inexplicably went off and accidentally struck her as she stood across the room. He helpfully added that he planned on securing a lawyer once the dust settled to investigate the gun maker’s liability for offering such a defective product. They were both in complete agreement concerning the details.

Gunshot wounds tell stories. Pistols typically punch orderly little holes and often do not produce exit wounds. High velocity rifles can create sufficient overpressure as to precipitate veritably explosive downrange effects. At close range, a 12-bore charged with most anything will make a thug look like God worked him over with a big honking ice cream scoop. In this case, the area around the entrance wound was neither clean nor tidy. The edges were torn, and the surrounding skin was stippled with flecks of unburned gunpowder.

The story this wound told was unambiguous. The happy couple had gotten sideways over something. Then our hero pushed his gat up against this young lady’s head and squeezed the trigger. Nothing else makes a wound like that.

We separated the two under some pretense, and I explained my observations to the injured woman. I assured her that I could keep her safe, but that she needed to tell me the truth. She would hear none of it. He loved her and would never intentionally harm her. The cops had a similar conversation with the poor lass as well and got the same answer. Without a witness willing to testify, their hands were tied.

The 95-grain FMJ bullet had transected the woman’s left optic nerve, rendering her irrevocably blind on that side. It then transited her sinuses and ended up lodged behind her right rearmost upper molar. We consulted the maxillofacial surgeon who numbed everything up and popped the slug out without further drama. Easy peazy.

The woman spent but a single night in the hospital. The following day the battered couple left in each other’s arms with a prescription for some antibiotics and a little pain medication. I never saw either of them again. It seems the bonds of love really are as strong as the poets opine.

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