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Kevin * | by Paul Zollo
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Kevin *

Riding my bicycle along

Hollywood Boulevard today

I saw him in the crowd - noticed

him instantly. When we reached

each other, I said hi and asked

if he would mind if I took his

photo.

"You want my photo?"

Yeah, I said. There's nobody

like you.

"I know." And he smiled for me

-although his face was

evidently destroyed by something-

and his mouth reconstructed.

 

I asked him what happened.

"Shot," he said. "Shot in the

face." He motioned a gun

at close range being shot

directly into his face.

 

Andyou survived that? I asked.

"No," he said with a smile.

"I'm dead."

I apologized for what was

a stupid question, but it

was hard to fathom - gun shot-

close range - into his face. And

he lived.

 

So what happened? I asked.

Was it an accident, or did

someone mean to shoot you?

 

"I did it myself. Tried to kill

myself."

 

You did?

"Yeah."

 

Where?

"Arizona."

 

Phoenix?

"Tucson."

 

So tell me, how did it feel,

after you shot yourself in the

face - and you came to -

and realized you were not

dead?

 

"Agony. The worst agony

ever."

 

Man.

"Yeah."

 

What kind of gun?

"30-aught-six."

 

I was thunderstruck. I have

met and photographed many

people - who are featured in this

stream - humans who have

overcome amazing

adversity. Lydia, who was

burnt almost to death.

Ray, whose eye was gone.

Margaret, who weighed over

500 pounds.

 

But this. Man. And yet he

was smiling. I told him what

I thought:

 

God gives everyone a different

life - and some people get really

really hard lives.

 

"That's me. Doesn't get

much worse."

 

Told me he's on the street.

Homeless.

 

I asked him how bad it was

that he wanted to die.

"Bad. Really bad. The worse

kind."

 

Are you gonna try again?

"No. I tried once. That's enough."

 

Man.

Sometimes our lives

seem hard - unbearable even -

but then we meet Kevin.

Or Lydia. Or Ray. And realize

again how lucky we are.

How hard some humans

have it.

Man.

 

And yet

he smiled. He smiled

for me. This man with his

face blown off - by his own

hand. And here he is -

in the sunshine, listening

to music, smiling.

 

Don't even know what else

to say about this. Guess

I've already said it.

 

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Taken on May 2, 2008