I was sitting in the dentist’s chair waiting to get my tooth filled when one of the dental techs hurried into the room.

“There was a stabbing at the deli!” she said.

“What?” the dentist said. “When?”

“A few minutes ago. A woman was stabbed eleven times. Three times in the head. “

“Is she alive?” I said.

“I don’t know,” the tech said. “There was an alert on my phone. There are cops everywhere.”

“Where’s this deli?” I said.

“Right down the block,” the tech said. “I go there all the time.”

After we digested this piece of random savagery, the dentist proceeded to fill my tooth. It was an easy job and I was out of the chair in half an hour.

“Any more news?” I asked the receptionist as I handed her my credit card.

“No,” she said. “But it’s so terrible.”

“He stabbed her eleven times,” the dental tech, who was sitting next to her, repeated. “Three times in the head.”

“They catch the guy?” I said.

“I don’t know,” the tech said. “But the guys in the deli heard her screams and called an ambulance. If they didn’t hear her she might’ve died on the spot.”

“Sounds like rage,” I said. “Probably a boyfriend/girlfriend thing.”

After I paid up I walked to my car. The deli in question was roughly 300 yards from the parking lot and surrounded by flashing police lights. As I drove by the crime scene I saw a bundle of bloody rags on the sidewalk – probably from when the paramedics worked on the victim. Crawling past, I saw detectives taking pictures and a state trooper interviewing a witness.

As I put the violent scene in my rearview mirror, I realized the stabbing probably took place moments after I walked into my dentist’s office. If I had been a minute or two late I might have heard the woman’s screams – or maybe not. My hearing isn’t what it used to be. But what if I had? At three hundred yards it would have been difficult to see what was going on. Would I have run over to help? I’ve been known to do crazy shit like that. And then what? Stop a man with a knife? I collect knives and have a passing knowledge of what they can do. If you hit the right place – say the jugular, femoral, or axillary artery – the target can bleed out and die very quickly.

Shaking my head, I said a silent prayer for the victim and one of thanksgiving – for myself. I was grateful I didn’t see anything.. Probably because I would’ve thought of my little girl and stayed put. That would’ve been the prudent course of action but I would’ve hated myself for it. And even if the attacker was gone when I got there, I would have seen something horrible. Trust me, the bloody rags were enough.

As I drove down the highway I noticed the noonday sun brighlty warming the new leaves gracing the trees. It was another beautful spring day – but for that poor woman it was the most horrible day of her life. Perhaps her last. Gripping the steering wheel I thought about another beautiful day where, despite the sunshine, death and destruction exploded out of the blue sky and changed all our lives. Most of life is humdrum, safe and ordinary. But every once in a while we’re reminded that evil is always there – lurking on the periphery.

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