Murphy’s bullet

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Exchange Story

My heart skips a beat when I see old type. That’s what I saw first: not the bullet, the writing that came with it. Typed clankily, scribbled over hastily, a gorgeous piece of text. Then I read the first line.

I’m not from New York, not even from America actually – I’m English, from a country where bullets and guns are utterly taboo. What on earth happened in this apartment? Who was chained to the radiator? Did they make it out alive? Is he or she still living here in New York, remembering the day they were shackled at gunpoint in this Manhattan studio? It’s a story I can’t know, but its violence and fear are still immediately present in this little piece of metal which now comes accompanied with a little piece of paper, telling a whole new story of a violent end. The material of death, and the material of text: the two go hand in hand, a beautiful synthesis of violence and our precarious existence at one short remove from it.

Two weeks ago, someone was shot outside my Bushwick apartment building while I sat inside drinking a glass of red wine. My neighbor and I hung out of the window watching the wailing ambulances, the police cars screeching to block off side streets, and the helicopters swooping over Flushing Avenue in pursuit of the shooter. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in England anymore.


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