My dad, hanging from the basement ceiling with a dog leash wrapped around his neck.
Watching my friend die beside me in a car wreck.
There was a hit-and-run in front of my house. I heard the loud “thump,” went outside, saw the dude dying. I was 14. I didn’t know what to do. I was shaking real hard. The dude just looked at me reaching for help, and he just died. I was sad as fuck, as I realized I was the last person he saw before he died.
When my youngest brother passed away at 9 months old, they had an open casket at the funeral. He didn’t look real; he was like a baby doll. It was the saddest and creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. This was almost 6 years ago.
I carried my cousin’s casket at her funeral. The last thing I did was give her a kiss on her cold forehead right after I looked at her before I closed the casket. Something about seeing her face getting covered by the casket haunts me so much.
When I was 8 years old, I saw my neighbor kill his wife by hitting her with a beer bottle. He cracked her skull and [she] dropped dead there and then.
It’s not how it was shown in the movies, guys. It’s far more horrible in real life. I still feel edgy every time I see a movie scene that includes hitting other people in the head with beer bottles.
My stepsister was stood next to me waiting for a taxi after a wedding reception, she was 12 at the time and I was 13. Three adults, drunk and on drugs, walked past us and one of them slapped her as hard as he could for no reason, she fell into me unconscious. My father and her father went berserk. My dad head butted the biggest guy and started jumping on his head. I saw his skull crack. Her father was smashing the head of the guy who slapped his daughter on the pavement. The last one tried to run, he was caught by some other men at the party. When the police arrived, they looked the other way and the whole thing was swept under the rug. Scary stuff to see at that age.
I saw an AIM conversation between my now ex-wife and a guy from a secret BDSM club in Nashville. He was trying to get her to trick me into going to that club where he would roofie my drink and tie me up in a bathroom so they could have sex. He expressed a desire to force me to listen from the locked, darkened bathroom as they did it. And she seemed interested. It’s been about 5 years and I still get cold chills when the memory comes back.
8, 9 years ago, I was in hospital overnight. There was this guy in the bed opposite me. He was maybe early fifties and diabetic. He’d had one leg off at the knee and was waiting to find out if the other one had to go (I think there was a gangrene issue or something). Nice enough, possibly Cockney, working-class guy.
So anyway, he’d prepaid for phone access, and he was phoning people that evening, talking pretty phlegmatically about it all in a “Yeah, hopefully it’ll be OK, don’t worry too much, what can you do eh?” kind of a way. He seemed pretty level about it all.
Middle of the night, I wake up and he’s on the phone again, saying pretty much the same stuff to someone else in the same so-it-goes way…except when I peer through the darkness, he isn’t. He’s talking in his sleep.
When I was much younger my family went to visit an aunt who was in a hospice facility/old folks’ home. Knowing that this might very well be the last time my mother spoke with her sister, I left the room to give them some privacy.
As I’m hunting for the vending machines I hear this tiny, pathetic voice saying “Son, son, can you help me?”
I follow the voice to a room I’d just passed, where I see this elderly woman. Well, I’ll call her a woman. She was barely recognizable as a person.
She was emaciated, to the point where I was reminded of photographs of Holocaust survivors. She weighed maybe, MAYBE, 80 pounds. She was nude, barely covered by a thin blanket. She was covered in sores, her limbs were contorted into uncomfortable angles, and you could smell that she hadn’t been cleaned in days.
I won’t go into all the gory details, because I don’t want to live through that shit again. The long and the short of it is that I held her hand for half an hour as she begged me for help, told me about the conditions she lived in, and cried tears that I didn’t believe were possible….
I stayed there until my family came looking for me and a nurse dragged me out of the room.
To this day I can see the woman’s face. I can remember her voice. I can recall, in exacting detail, our conversation. I remember how her voice broke right before she started crying. I remember the smell in the room, the temperature, even the color of the tile.
This was 25 or so years ago.
I was 12 years old and riding my bike along a back road when i came up to a police roadblock. Thinking I was a smart little shit, I decided to skirt back a bit and into a nearby snowmobile trail that connects back to the road a few hundred meters away down a ravine.
A few minutes later I made the turn to get off the trail and get back to the road. As I climbed a small hill I saw the reason why the road was blocked.
Some SUV smoked a dude riding a motorbike and left a red smear on the road and chunks of the rider well distributed among the smear.
Worst of all, an EMT was chasing away the birds that were trying to eat the chunks of the rider that were over the road.
I saw bits of bone, meaty bits, but the part that scared me the most was the biker’s helmet, detached, with parts of a neck and head still stuck inside.
That was almost 15 years ago and I still have dreams about that.
I work in midtown Manhattan near one of the city’s largest methadone clinics. One day while walking to work I saw a junkie passed out in front of a McDonald’s. He had vomited all over himself and the ground near him. A couple of pigeons had landed by and on him and were eating the vomit. All of this while people stepped over him to get into the McDonald’s. There were so many things wrong with that one image that I think it fundamentally changed me as a person for having seen it.
When I was studying photojournalism in college I went to New Orleans about 9 months after Hurricane Katrina to document other students giving up their spring break to volunteer. We ended up staying with a non-profit that was using a two-story school in the 9th Ward as a base of operations.
One of the days I was walking around the building and went up to the second floor. In one of the rooms, the chalkboard was completely covered in different handwritings. I went up assuming it was stories or signatures from other volunteers. It was in actuality the writing of the people that had sought shelter in the school when the storm hit and the floodwaters were ten feet deep in the neighborhood, the people that were trapped for days with no supplies and no help.
One of the younger-looking handwritings simply said “…they left us here to die.”
I’ve seen some other crazy stuff, but something about discovering this cry for help alone in a class room still makes my skin crawl and gives me a lump in my throat when I look back on it.
I live in an apartment building with a huge open atrium in the center, going up 14 floors. The bottom of it is the top of the 1st floor, just plain concrete.
One day my roommate and I came home and saw police outside. We didn’t ask what was going on and they didn’t tell us anything. We figured it was a domestic violence, robbery, or something. We went up to our floor (7th). As I approached the atrium railing, I saw police tape hanging across it. So I decide to take a look…
A guy had jumped from about the 12th floor less like 20 minutes before that. He was at the bottom, uncovered, and his head had exploded.
Seen a lot of shit on the Internet that I didn’t blink an eye at but seeing it in real life is another thing entirely.
I was sitting at a crosswalk waiting for pedestrians to cross along with 3 or 4 other cars. It was a 4-lane road (2 each direction). A woman was crossing the street on the opposite side of the intersection from me in front of a large truck on the curb lane. I could see another truck coming up to the intersection from that direction on this inside lane and he wasn’t slowing down. The woman didn’t see the truck, she stepped past the first vehicle right in front of the guy that wasn’t stopping.
He was a typical 20-something driving a big, jacked up Dodge pickup. He hit the woman directly. Her head went over top of the truck, the rest of her body kind of disintegrated, much of it going into the bed of the truck that hit her.
Me, being in my car on the opposite side of the intersection had everything splattered with blood and guts. I just sat there in shock. The guy that hit her was next to me by now and I looked over and he just had his face in his hands and stayed there until the ambulance and cops showed up and pulled him out of the truck.
Me and most of the people involved were sent to counseling to deal with the shock. That was a long time ago and thinking about it still fucks with me. Now I am hyper-aware whenever I cross the street and never walk with headphones on or while talking on the phone. Multiple lives were ruined that day. It just isn’t worth it.
Me and a buddy were riding BMX in Tempe Arizona and we got hungry so we went to a the Zipp’s sports bar on Mill Avenue and 7th Street to eat, we were out on the patio and while we ate I saw a homeless man walk in to the middle of the intersection and slit his own throat. When I close my eyes I can still see the blood gush from his neck.
I watched a guy cry and vomit meat chunks after he was shot in the stomach. It went on for about 20 minutes before he fell unconscious. I have no idea when he died, but he was pronounced dead at the scene when the police showed up 45 minutes later.
They took my statement but didn’t even ask to take my gun, which I was holding the entire time. Never saw a day in court. It was immediately written off as justifiable self-defense.
Turns out that what I thought was a gun in his hand was actually the bolt cutters he was using to break into my shed. He was 2 weeks shy of his 21st birthday.
Saw a friend get his brains blown out accidentally. I was 19, we were out drinkin’ and shootin’ at empty propane bottles thrown into a bonfire. (Bad combo, not much to do in our town.) I was sittin’ back behind the shooting station when a rifle went off and half of a buddy’s head went with it. Everybody else heard the shot and saw him fall but didn’t really see “it.” I was the only one that saw the whole thing.
I’m 42 and haven’t shot a gun since; I’m not afraid to, I just don’t wanna.
Probably the burned corpse I saw when my house (row homes) caught on fire. They drug this guy out, blackened, burnt to a crisp with flesh hanging off of him. It wasn’t exactly what I saw, but it was the fucking smell that gets to me. That smell is forever ingrained into my sinuses. I’ll never forget it; it makes me nauseous just thinking about it.
An open-casket funeral for one of my friends who had hung himself. The makeup person hadn’t done quite as good a job as they could have at covering up the bruises.
Watching two Israeli soldiers hold a helpless unarmed Palestinian down and break his collarbone with a rifle butt. Then they broke his elbow with a rock.
Childbirth. I was 4 years old and someone decided I should see the miracle of life. No one should ever see a crowning child. NO ONE.
23. He wrote me a note in his blood that said, “I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough for you. You’ll never forget about breaking my heart.”
Oh man. When I was a freshman in high school, there was a guy who was obsessed with me. Within two months of meeting him he told me he loved me and said I should breakup with my boyfriend. I stopped talking to him and he started cutting himself.
By the end of the second month he had been sent to the local behavioral center so he could get better. After he was released he texted me telling me he wasn’t OK.
I’ll never forget the pictures he sent me. He’d cut himself from his wrist to his elbow, and carved a heart in his arm for me. He carved my name into his other arm. And he wrote me a note in his blood that said, “I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough for you. You’ll never forget about breaking my heart.”