Wednesday, October 8, 2014

life under the gun

It’s autumn, hunting season. I don’t remember much about it, except the raw, metallic smell of the freshly oiled metal and the fierce kickback into the shoulder after each shot. And I remember seeing the carcasses of the kills hanging upside down as they bled; the empty stare of the eyes as they blankly watched you from the bed of the pickup truck or the hook from where they hung.

Underneath them, on the dirty, oily concrete floor, pools of blood and other dark fluids mirrored their reflections back up at them and at you. In these memories, everything is always cold and dark. The lighting is always that harsh yellowed, yet fiercely bright, light that every garage always seemed to have. Probably it is dark because the men spent all day in the woods, pretending they were warriors who could only come home if they killed something.

On this particular day, wearing a camouflage jacket that is no doubt too large, you try to hold the rifle in your hands; you try to set your sights on the can in the distance far ahead of you; and, you try to squeeze off a round. Are you wearing ear protection? You don’t remember, but you don’t think so. This is real country; no one wears anything more protective than the camouflage and everyone considers the bright orange that is required in the woods an offense against authenticity.

The trigger sticks under your finger, and you’re not certain you’ll have the strength in this one tiny digit to make the trigger go back. The curved metal feels tight, so tight it actually hurts a little bit; biting back into your flesh as you try to force it to do what you want it to do. When the trigger finally clicks back into place, the moment goes by too fast and too loudly for you to really appreciate it; it’s not slo-mo as in the movies.

Instead, in an instant, the round fires, the rifle butts (hard) into your shoulder, and the crack is enough to make your eyes water.

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