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I’ve never told this story before. I wouldn’t even know how to begin if you didn’t ask me to tell you about it. It was horrifying really. I didn’t know what was happening until he was lying on the floor gushing gore all over. I didn’t think it was going to happen. His father is usually there to make sure I’m not in the gun. It’s all very methodical every time. Father says, “You know this isn’t a toy.” Brian says, “Yes, Daddy.” He knows that’s what he is supposed to say, but there is the look of lust in his eyes like– well, like a kid with a new toy. Father checks my shotgun every time and makes sure I’m not in the chamber. That way Brian can pull the trigger all he wants and nothing will happen. I even laugh sometimes when he points my shotgun at some imaginary prey and yells “BANG! You’re dead!” He’s 12 years old. Kids his age like to play games like that. There isn’t anything wrong with showing him what a real gun feels like. It’s healthy for him. It teaches him to respect what it is to be a man.
Only, Father wasn’t there this time. Brian’s been told a million times not to play with my gun, especially when Father isn’t there. But that never stops him from sneaking into his father’s bedroom and pulling my shotgun from under the bed and run around the house pretending he’s at the Alamo or whatever it is kids imagine of themselves. It’s never a big deal because he always puts it back under the bed before Father gets home and he never, ever puts me in the gun. He’s taken me out of the drawer and looks at me sometimes. He feels the smoothness of my wax coating and my cold brass casing, he feels my ridges, but he never, never put me in the gun. He would never put me in the gun. He knows what would happen. There would be a big explosion and he would have to explain why there was a giant hole in the wall when Father got home.
This time, though, he was showing off. One of his friends was playing at the house with no one else home, so Brian wanted to show off some. He did what he has never done before, which is why the gun misfired. I knew it was all going horribly wrong when I wasn’t in the chamber the whole way. He pulled the forestock and– and I couldn’t help it. I didn’t want to fire but my primer was pressing so hard. I just couldn’t help it. I did what I’ve been waiting to do since the day I was cast into this shell. Out I went. Dozens of tiny shot, all careening in wrong directions down the barrel. I thought we were going to blow the shotgun apart. I guess that’s why we didn’t blow a hole in the boy like a hole in the wall. We kind of scattered around, pushing in wherever we could. His body was so cold against my shot heated for the blast. We went in so quickly and easily. I thought it would be over then, but things kept going. It was so loud. Much louder than I thought it would be. Of course, that’s what everybody says, but the noise didn’t stop. I didn’t understand what I was hearing at first. I guess he started screaming as soon as the blast went off. He kept screaming so loud. All I could hear for the longest time was the screaming. That, and I could feel the pulsing of blood pushing past me to get out the holes we made going into his gut. The pulsing and the screaming seemed to go on years as though that would be all I would know forever.
Then there was a doctor who made the screaming stop, but he couldn’t make the pain go away. I hated him when he started to touch us. We belonged here. We had to be here because this is where we were put when the gun went off. The doctor kept pulling at us and peeling everything apart and cutting up the burned parts until I didn’t know where I belonged anymore. Nothing in the boy’s body looked the same anymore. He was all half made, or unmade. Pieces were cut out and the edges sewn together making everything shorter and smaller leaving fractions of organs. Now I’m the missing part. I’m the frayed edges of the gaps and folds. I exist as the giant hole in this 12 year old boy.
Yea, I did it. I know I did it. My boy said I was gonna do it and I did. You want me to say it out loud, don’t you? Fine, I’ll say it plainly and clearly for you. I went into that 13 year old boy’s skull and I fucked up the insides and I murdered the little fucker. No I don’t feel bad about it. He knew I was gonna kill him because my boy told him so. Maybe he didn’t believe my boy was really going to kill him and that’s why he wasn’t scared. If he had been scared– if he would have believed my boy had a gun, he would have been scared and that might have been enough for my boy. But he wasn’t scared. This new kid was a stranger down here in public school. What the fuck was he doing here in the first place. He was too soft and plump from private school babying. Probably, when someone over there says “I’m gonna kill you”, that just means it’s your turn to run and be chased, and if you got caught, all you get is a Charlie horse or an Indian burn or something. Like it isn’t real and the guy is just really mad and wants to yell something at you. Not down here though. My boy doesn’t do that. When my boy says he’s going to kill you, you better duck because I’m coming at you. That private school brat probably never even saw a gun in his life.
That little shit kept acting like a big shot with his paid-for education and his clean clothes, thinking he was something special. He didn’t belong in public school. He wasn’t acting right. That short little shit was nothing and I showed him so. No one in public school is anything, no one except for my boy because he knows how to take power and respect. I give him that power! ME! All 9 millimeters of me. Oh, I couldn’t wait either. I’d been itching to pop my cap for weeks. The day my boy put me into the gun was the happiest day of my life. Not like that other sad sack, whining “I didn’t mean too.” Of course you meant to, and I meant to, too. It’s what I was made for, what we were all made for. My boy pulled me out from the back corner of his closet and loaded me in. It didn’t matter that my boy was only 13. Today he was a man because he was handling his business like a man handles his business! Today was my day, the day I was gonna fulfill my destiny, son!
Do you know what it’s like knowing what you are, what you were meant for, because I know what I am meant for. I am meant to kill. All you have to do is point my gun at something you hate, click and I’m gone and that thing you hate won’t ever bother you again. That’s what I do. I’m an eraser. I erase all the stuff that ain’t supposed to be there and my boy knew what wasn’t supposed to be there. No I’m not sorry. New boy had no business coming into my boy’s school. Public school is my boy’s turf. He had no idea how to respect that. He should have stayed in preppy private school where he belonged, where his short ass might have had a chance at being a big shot. Now he’s dead because he stepped into the wrong neighborhood. Whatever, it’s not like he’s the first kid to die in public junior high. See? He’s not so special at all.
I don’t know. He was supposed to die or something. At least that’s what he wanted, I guess. He was 19 and he wanted to die. I don’t know. He stuck my gun in his mouth and he pulled the trigger ‘cause that’s how it’s done. It was supposed to work. Only it didn’t go right. It wasn’t my fault though. I didn’t do anything wrong! I did exactly what I was supposed to do, I think. I don’t know. I tried to kill him. I tried to go straight through his brain, ya’ know, but I just went off to the side or something. It was just so dark and he was shaking the whole time and I just knew that somebody was going to burst in and catch him trying to kill himself or something.
What do you mean ‘what happened?’ You know what happened. He uses those crutches now, the ones that stick to your arm. He can’t live alone and he has to sit down in the shower like an old granny or something. He looks funny, too. His face isn’t right and he talks funny. I don’t know.
He says he’ll never try it again because it hurt too much the first time. But I think he will. He’ll get tired of people looking at him funny and acting strange around him. I know he’ll get tired of having to sit down in the shower and not being able to wash right. It’s not like the old hurts went away either. Ya’ know, the reason he put my gun in his mouth in the first place. Those hurts, they’re still there. So, I think he’ll try it again once he gets over the sorry and the shame of it not working the first time. I don’t know if he’ll be able to find another bullet though. None of us would go near him after the first time. But maybe he’ll get lucky and the doctor will give him some really strong medicine like the kind they gave to Michael Jackson or Marilyn Monroe. Maybe he’ll get lucky the next time, ya’ know? I don’t know.
The above confessions are true stories told from the point of view of the bullet that was fired.
My name is James. These stories are from my life. I never fired a gun. Guns were fired at people close to me, people I care about deeply. I didn’t grow up in a ‘high-risk’ neighborhood. I went to the right schools and to church, yet gun violence has touched my life. How much more prevalent is gun violence in those seedier parts of town where they don’t even think to tell the story as something special.
It is the age of accountability. Up to this point in the entirety of human history, we humans have been trying to solve our problems by killing those people that don’t agree with us or think like we do. But all those billions of murders have not brought us any closer to harmony. The survival of the species is dependent on our diversity. Only when we as a single race realize that the man or woman standing next to you or on the other side of this tiny little globe is your kin, is part of you, only then will we make the first steps toward peace. Any kind of violence is violence against yourself.
Name: James Giaquinto. What does he do? A long and winding road has led James to the
Painted Brain where his talents as a musician, artist, and writer are utilized for this awesome
and involved community of artists.