Official Partner The Royal Society of Medicine


Turning the Other Cheek

From an anonymous contributor.

It was a normal night in an emergency department somewhere in the East of England. A night like any other – road traffic collisions, domestics, slips, trips, and tumbles. A quiet night – at least for a Saturday – noteworthy only for how unremarkable it was. Until two young men walked in, hobbling and abashed, and probably under the influence of something usually sold in pints. We were used to the broken noses and wrists of a standard night out, and were expecting more of the same. So, a few minutes later, I’m speaking to these young men (well, young-ish), and finding myself surprised.

“Well, you’ll never believe this, Doc.”

“Go ahead.”

“Well, Doc, we were shot!”

“Shot? As in…?”

“No – an air rifle I think.”


“On the way back from the pub.”

“No, like – where? Physically.”


“Are you ok, sir?”

“It’s a bit embarassing.”

“In your own time.”

“At the – back – of the top – of my leg.”

“Your bum?”


So, truth established, I examined the small bloody bruises on the backs of their thighs – about on the cusp of what may be considered bum and what may be considered not bum. They were both laughing and joking and I was doing my very best to retain my composure, but hearing one of them call his wife to explain where he was tipped me over the edge.

“You’re not listening, Lynn [not her real name], we were ambushed. Yes. AMBUSHED!”

I just had to ask.

“‘Scuse me, sir…”

“Yes, Doc.”

“How did you get this injury?”

“We were, er, walking home, er, from the – pub. And, er, like four of ’em jumped out behind us.”

“Behind you?”

“Yes. In an alley. We was in a alley.”

“And what happened next?”

“They opened fire!”

“And you both got hit the once?”

“Yeah. Lucky escape, man.”

“You don’t want to call the police, then?”

They fell silent.

“I think we wanna just let it go, you know, Doc?”

Well, it certainly looked like they’d been shot in the rear ends by a pellet gun, and two awkward X-rays later, we were sitting (delicately) and looking at the scans.

“Told you, Doc.”

“You can see the pellets quite clearly. Yours is actually quite deep.”

“I’ve a larger arse.”

The scans bore out this analysis, too. Bumps and scratches and a few scars, and an air pellet, an inch into the flesh.

“Can we put our trousers back on?”

Their clothing, however, did not.

“What is it, Doc?”

“Your trousers…”

I fell silent as I realised there were no pellet holes in the trousers.

“What is it, Doc?”

“Were you wearing these trousers when you were shot?”

“Yes, Doc.”

“Oh, yes, absolutely, Doctor – yes.”

“Are you sure you were wearing these trousers when you -”

“We were DEFINITELY in the trousers, yes.”

I left it at that. Both were sent home the next day without the pellets being removed. A senior colleague of mine asked me about the two hobbling drunk men later that week. Perhaps he recognised them. When I told him that they had shot each other in the arse after a few drinks, he merely shrugged and said

“What? Again?”


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