Many (four) years ago, we Americans had a vice president, Dick Cheney, who shot an old man in the face. On a hunting trip. And today that victim, Harry Whittington, is profiled in the newspaper! How's he doing?
Harry Whittington, 82, is an old Texas plutocrat. He's a lawyer, real estate investor, and political insider — the Triple Threat of upper-class entrenchment, or at least good enough to earn invites to hunting trips with sociopath vice presidents. The game, of course, is not quail. It's humans. You have to figure that out and escape. Harry Whittington didn't.
The public didn't learn about the shooting until at least a day later, because Dick Cheney was naturally covering his ass, but when we did, all the news reports seemed to play it down. Oh, it's just a little birdshot! Silly Dick Cheney. He's always in-character!
The shotgun sprayed upward of 200 birdshot pellets at Whittington, causing scores of wounds. His facial lacerations were the most dramatically bloody, but the injuries to his neck and chest were the most serious. Four days after being hit, the birdshot near his heart prompted it to beat erratically, forcing him back into the intensive care unit. Doctors said Whittington suffered a mild heart attack; he thinks it was something less, a heart "event."
Still, the injuries were more dire than previously disclosed. Whittington suffered a collapsed lung. He underwent invasive exploratory surgery, as doctors probed his vital organs for signs of damage. The load from Cheney's gun came close to, but didn't damage, the carotid artery in his neck. A rupture could have been fatal, particularly since it took the better part of an hour to transport him from the vast Armstrong ranch to the Kingsville hospital.
Whittington regained consciousness just in time to issue a public apology to Dick Cheney, if you'll remember, for all the media ruckus. Cheney never apologized in return, however, for shooting him in the face.
At least he got to keep the bloody, bloody clothes.
Whittington enters his kitchen with a curious set of garments on a hanger.
"Take a look," he urges, holding out a baseball cap emblazoned with the name of a hunting resort, and a hunting vest, both in safety orange. The vest has been sliced up the side, as if someone was trying to remove it in a hurry. Its surface is splattered with brownish, irregularly shaped bloodstains.
Mercedes Whittington almost blanches when she sees the vest. "It was just awful," she says, as her husband offers a closer look.
Harry Whittington saved the vest not just as a souvenir but as a warning. He shows it to friends, and to the children of friends, to illustrate the dangers of firearms. "It's an education for them," he says.