Alex oniugnip and I go to see a movie at a theater a couple miles away from his house. When we come out of the theater at 11 p.m., we discover that his bike has a flat tire. We grumble a bit, then prepare to walk our bikes home, deciding to go through the Georgia Tech campus because it seems safer than the other routes available to us.
On our way through campus, we pause on a street corner near a bus shelter to decide which way to go next. As we're standing there, a black car with blue underlighting1 and perhaps two or three people in it pulls up to the bus stop, 20 feet away or so, in front and slightly to the left of us, idling with the windows open. We're not really paying much attention to it, that is, not until they start setting off fireworks at us.
Two bottle rockets come streaking out of the left side of the car, one after the other, and zoom off down the street horizontally, or more horizontally than vertically, anyway. We don't move; I'm just kind of staring at the bright, loud, sparkly things and wondering what's going on and why, and then two more bottle rockets come out of the car on the right side, which is the side we're on, and fly right between us. Or, rather, I should say, one of them flies right between us. The other one hits me in the stomach.
It happens much, much faster than I can react. For half a second I am on fire, and then I'm not. "Did that hit you?!" Alex says. I'm staring in fascination at the smoking edges of a one-inch hole burned through my shirt, not in pain, just shocked and confused. "Holy shit!" Alex yells, throws his bike on the ground, and goes tearing down the street after the car, which is rapidly pulling away. Then he comes tearing back, furiously angry, to the emergency call box that's next to the bus stop. A moment later, a couple of Georgia Tech cops pull up -- apparently, they were in the area already after getting a report of a separate, similar incident! One of them heads off after the black car in the direction we point, the other collects our information, and we walk home, somewhat shakily, pushing bikes and holding hands. I'm not actually hurt. It's a shame about the shirt, though; I kind of liked it.
In retrospect, I don't think those people were necessarily trying to hit us. They may not have even realized that we were standing there, at least not until we started yelling. But here is the thing: you can't aim a bottle rocket, not really. It is self-propelled and goes where it wants to go, such as into human beings at 75 miles an hour. Bottle rockets are illegal in Georgia, by the way. Anyway, I'm completely fine, but be careful out there, kids.
- Also, if you're planning to set off illegal fireworks at pedestrians from your car, I recommend not having stupid blue neon aftermarket ground effects which will make it very easy for the police to find you, with the added bonus of looking incredibly dorky. Just sayin'!