Warning – not an Eve post.  Real life occasionally intrudes even here on CasualEve.

In real life the hands behind the Dire run a condominium management business.  My assistant in that endeavor also happens to be my nephew by marriage (he’s married to my niece).  In addition to being a wonderful nephew, he’s a damn fine employee.  He’s a pleasure to be around, we work well together and our customers like him too.  I’m pleased to offer him employment as long as he wants it.  We’ll call him T.

On Monday morning June 6th T, looking distraught, stepped into my office to explain that he had just received a phone call informing him that his niece had been shot in the face late Sunday night.  Accordingly, he’d be wrapping up the day’s work momentarily in order to go see her in the hospital.  As you will discover as this story unfolds, the circumstances leading up to the shooting are not only astoundingly stupid but also possibly deeply disturbing.  That said, T remained my nephew so the first thing going through my mind beyond shock was the repeated mantra, “Don’t say anything stupid Dire.  Don’t say anything stupid Dire.  Don’t say anything stupid Dire.”

When T returned to work a couple days later I wasn’t able to tease much information out of him beyond 1) his niece (we’ll call her Sh) was going to survive and 2) Sh herself reported the shooting was accidental so that’s what he was going with.

I’ve met Sh.  Bright kid.  College material.  Sadly, as the local culture deems appropriate, upon graduating high school she immediately went husband hunting and quickly ensnared and married her Prince Charming who, as the local culture dictates, was supposed to take care of her for the rest of her life.  Seems she hunted poorly since Prince Charming was also a gun enthusiast who slept with a loaded pistol (I kid you not) and t’was that very pistol that blew a slug in her jaw.

While T, for powerful psychological reasons had consciously chosen to run with ‘accident’, I, being a little more distant from the whole fiasco, was not so constrained meaning a new set of thoughts clicked through my head, “1) Suicide attempt?  2) Assault?  3) Monumental stupidity?”  I chewed on these questions for about a week with no further information until finally, in desperation, I emailed my niece (T’s wife) for details.  Here’s her reply [edited for anonymity and clarity]:

T was/is really upset so he gets choked up and doesn’t want to talk about it. Sh lived at home with him when she was born so T feels a little like her Dad.

She got shot in the face accidentally. They kept a loaded 9mm under the pillow. (Fucking idiots – it has gone from stupid to heartbreaking.) She was coming back to bed and her husband slid the gun over and it discharged. The first thing Sh communicated by writing was “accident”.  The police are investigating.

The bullet entered her lower left jaw from the front and shattered. No vascular (jugular or carotid artery), brain, or spinal cord injury – incredibly lucky.  She had surgery on Friday for a tracheotomy and “x fix” halo thing to keep her face still. She can’t talk and eats through a tube in her nose.

She’s alive and will recover. Multiple surgeries, 5-8, will be done to reconstruct her jaw. Her tongue wasn’t damaged so she will be able to talk after some speech therapy to get used to her new face.

While there remains much unanswered in this description, unlike my nephew-in-law/employee, I’m fortunate fellow.  My niece wasn’t shot, his was.  Accordingly, I was able to make my next set of thoughts public and reply with the following [again edited for anonymity and clarity):

You’ve answered my primary question.  Sh was in position to see what happened. Accordingly, this whole matter is distant enough from me that I’m now able to shrug my shoulders at ‘just one of those tragic things’, accept Sh’s assertion that it was accidental and be done with it.  If it had happened to my niece (i.e. you), I fear I wouldn’t have it in my heart to let it go.  I’m lucky.

Niece, don’t you get shot – ever.  Your life’s not the only one that would be ruined by it.