I guess you could say I was an easy target.
It was a Sunday night around 9:30 p.m. I was walking with two friends, Orlando and Leigh. I was the closest to the street. I was also the tallest. And I was wearing a bright orange shirt.
We were at 18th and Q Streets, in front of the Imperial House, when I suddenly felt like someone had come up from behind and hit me on the shoulder.
“You have a dart in your back,” Orlando announced. Then he yanked it out.
I always thought that in surprising circumstances I would make up my own language, but all I said was “Ouch.”
The three of us looked around quickly to see if there was a dude with a bow and arrow. We didn’t see anything, though.
My first thought was that this was gay-bashing. Orlando and I aren’t gay, but we both have bald heads. And we’ve been called gay by kids in the neighborhood before. It’s all I could think of.
We jogged around the corner to 17th Street to the 7-Eleven. We got some cigarettes and called the cops. Fifteen minutes later, a firetruck showed up with three EMTs. They looked at my back. The dart had penetrated about an eighth of an inch. They said the dart was probably not poisonous. I still have a bruise and a puncture wound.
Around 11, a cop came to interview me. While he was there, over his radio came news of five other cases of aggravated assault involving a blow dart. I was relieved to hear that I wasn’t the only one who was hit. It wasn’t about me.
I’ve lived in Washington for five years. I’ve never been mugged. You sometimes hear about drive-by shootings. And this is as far away from that as possible. It’s weird to get a taste of the violence, even one so minuscule when compared to the real violence that happens like you see in the InTowner.
At work on Monday—I work in the development department of NPR—I didn’t walk in with an “I’m the dart dude” sign on, but I told a few people. Word travels fast. On Thursday, I got a call from an All Things Considered producer, who asked if I minded being interviewed for the show.
After the show, I got an e-mail and a phone call from New York. One friend said that I sounded good for having been hit by a dart. I sent some “Guess what” e-mails. A blow-dart attack is a nice reason to keep in touch.
Something worse happened the day after my attack: My bike was stolen outside my apartment. Yes, it was locked. It was my best friend’s father’s bike, worth about $10. I didn’t bother to report it. CP