Having a Gun Pointed at Me in Las Vegas

Owen Christopher survives to tell a scary tale in his hometown.

Two years ago a man pointed a gun at me. He did not kill me. He did not shoot me.

I went downtown. I was to meet my friend at a restaurant on Fremont Street in Las Vegas, Nevada. I arrived before he did. I texted him. He said he was on his way. I did a little thinking. I knew he would be riding his motorcycle there.

I knew he wouldn’t be texting on his motorcycle. I mean, even he’s not a tough enough dude to do that. I took my time walking from my old high school to the restaurant. When I had arrived I texted him again. He didn’t reply right away. I took that to mean he was on his way.

I waited in front of the restaurant. It was a breezy mild night. It was dark. A breeze was blowing. The doors of the restaurant were wide open. A man sat alone at a large table situated near the entrance. He was writing in a small notebook with a pencil. He wasn’t eating anything.

The restaurant was full of lively patrons. The ceiling in that place loudens every conversation. It sounds like the busiest place in the world in there. I leaned against a light pole. I looked at my phone. I looked at my shoes. I put my phone in my pocket. I put my hands in my pockets. I was quiet. I wasn’t looking at or thinking about anything.

One voice cut through the white noise of conversation inside the restaurant.

“Yo, you. Hey. Hey, you.”

I didn’t consider the voice was addressing me. I closed my eyes and rested the back of my head on the pole.

“Hey — hey, yo, I’m talkin’ to you!”

I looked into the restaurant. The man who’d been sitting at the table alone was looking at me.

“I said don’t look at me,” he said.

If he had, in fact, said to not look at him, I hadn’t heard him say so.

I didn’t look at him. Now that he’d explicitly told me not to look at him, I made every effort not to.

“You hear me? Hey! Hey! Are you deaf?”

I didn’t say anything.

“Look at me. Hey! Look at me.”

I darted my eyes up. I processed the man’s appearance. He was wearing a big baggy brown coat. He was wearing baggy blue jeans and brown work boots. He had a gray zip-up hoodie over a red flannel shirt which was half-unbuttoned over a white thermal shirt. He’d closed his little notebook on his finger.

“Look at me. Huh? What are you lookin’ at, faggot?”

I looked away. I looked at my feet. I looked left. I looked right. I didn’t hear any motorcycles.

“I asked you a question. Son of a bitch!”

He stood up. He charged out of the restaurant.

“You fuckin’ deaf, huh?”

I looked at him. “Hey, uh — ”

“Nuh-uh. Nuh-uh, faggot.”

Now he took a gun out of his jacket. I didn’t see where it came from.

He pointed it at me. It was — well, I don’t know much about guns. It wasn’t tiny and it wasn’t huge. It was medium-sized. It was shiny. He pointed it at me. He held it at hip level, with his elbow bent. He gestured to the side.

“Don’t you f****’ look at me, bitch. Go over there. Go over there. You heard me. Go over there.”

The instant he said “Go over there,” I had turned my back and started walking. I walked faster and faster until I was at the end of the building. I slid around the corner. I put my back against the wall. My heart was beating hard. I could feel my heartbeat in the middle of my upper back.

I have spent most of my life in this city. I’ve still never been mugged or jumped despite living and going to school in the western half of it. The west side of town is close in proximity to the strip. Despite the lights and tourists, it’s one of the more dangerous places to be.

For the most part I’ve enjoyed my life downtown. I like how everything is closer together compared to the more suburban eastern areas. I like being able to walk most places.

After nearly 20 years of living in the heart of a biggish city, I’ve only had a gun pulled on me this one time.

1st Person Essay by Owen Christopher shared with Reynolds Sandbox

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Reynolds Sandbox

Showcasing innovative and engaging multimedia storytelling by students with the Reynolds Media Lab in Reno.