By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
If God is in the details, He must be getting a chuckle over these.
And as for that pesky bullet--the one that supposedly did not penetrate his skull--Bob offers this personal testimony: "The doctor [a Dr. Carrion, not mentioned in the police report but listed on the hospital's medical report] said, 'You have a bullet in your head. It pierced the dura mater, and you have a bullet about three inches in your brain.'
"They only pulled 80 percent of the bullet out of my head. I take my metal detector I use for gold mining and run it over the top of my head, and it screams."
After two and a half days in the hospital, after hours of brain surgery, 42 staples in his head and a painkilling journey from morphine to Tylenol Three, Bob found himself laid up in his sister's house, lucky to be alive.
"The doctor told me, usually when a guy gets shot in the head with a .22, it zips around inside of the skull. Or, it'll blow a hole inside the skull and ricochet around, which leaves you drooling in a basket. I take care of guys who have been shot like that."
Bob shudders, sips at the beer.
"It blew a hole through the dura mater into the brain tissue. What I was told was that your brain has a third of your body's blood supply in it. And the shit that flew out of my head hit the back of the doors and covered all the boxes of fish."
That's a big mess.
"My boss had to clean that up, and repack all the fishes. They were all covered with gore."
Bob stayed with his sister for 12 days, his legs not working too well, walking like "a jerky string puppet. After four days, she came in to ask me a question, and I said, 'Okay.' And she gave me a weird look and asked me a question again, and I said, 'Okay.' What happened was she was asking me a question that the answer wasn't 'Okay.' Then she asks me, 'Is your hair green?' And I said, 'Okay.'"
Back to the hospital, an MRI was done, and Bob says the doctors told him he had "dysflexia." He knew what to say, but it wasn't coming out. By the next day, this disappeared. The next problem was far from medical.
"I was getting cabin fever. I'd been taking little strolls, so I went next door to the Circle K and bought one of those little lizard caps. I felt real inhibited about my Frankenstein head."
Armed with a lizard cap, a thirst and a need for a little socializing to get his mind off his brain, Bob hit the bars.
"I picked four of my favorites," he reveals. "First place, I had two black-and-tans. Second place, I had two triple bypasses, large ones [22 ounces of cherry flavoring and grain alcohol]. Then, at the third place, I taught the bartender to make a brandy old fashioned like I like it, and I had three of those."
No, the point here is not to list what Bob got tanked on. The point is that Bob, a man who likes his drink now and again, did not get tanked at all.
"I felt nothing, zero. And I'm spending some good money. Then I went to the fourth place and drank five Budweisers. Nothing. Then I came back to the first place and had four black-and-tans. And I was out of money. It was pissing me off! What did this kid do to me?"
Actually, Bob did feel the effects of all of this drinking. But it wasn't until the next day. "Oh, God, yes," he says. "The hangover was all there."
That was eight months ago.
For the first ten weeks or so after the incident, every time a car passed, Bob "felt a bullet in my back. I was nervous as hell." But that has worn off. Other than that, his problems are not too severe. His head "itches a lot. I'm still getting pimples on my scalp; when you nail 'em and squeeze 'em, there's a bone shard in 'em. They crunch. It's like, 'Oh, that's a chunk of my head.'"
He's back at work, down at the pawnshop, and caring for the quadriplegics, being "a blue-collar worker, an average guy who busts his ass for six bucks an hour. I've done a lot of not-good things in my life, but nothing that I deserve to have somebody walk up to me and assassinate me for."
And those guys who walked up with the .22 in search of a dollar--however old they are, however much they weigh--are still out there, probably.
If he had his way, what would Bob want done to his assailants? Over the course of our conversations, he says tough-guy stuff; he'd love to have a fully armed crack at 'em, send 'em straight to hell. The last time I asked him, this is what ex-Marine, ex-biker, current-gun- and sometime-booze-fan Bob had to say:
"The only thing I could think of for the first seven months was, if you put 'em in prison, they're only going to learn to do more bad shit. I didn't want 'em dead, because that'd be bad for my karma. So what does that leave? The only thing I could think of was it'd be nice if they found the Lord. That's the only thing that's going to change them. I've never been much of a religious person, but I know that God's kept His hand on me over the years. . . . Through the whole thing, I think my biggest trauma was seeing that kid smile.