• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 06
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Routine and a Rifle

I can’t tell you what it’s like to shoot a rifle. I can’t tell you about the sound, the muscles clenching, the release of everything. Everyone else who doesn’t own a gun thinks we’re monsters. Us, those hicks with guns. They think we’re just uneducated no-lives with no-thing to do. I’ve got things. I’ve got a life. I’ve got Carly, Mike. On Saturday mornings I have my coffee and read something, maybe Hemingway, maybe a paper, maybe do a crossword. But then I always go shooting. I put up those aluminum cans and release the trigger. I feel the weight of that metal in my hands. I feel those bullets, each one blasting out and think about the smoke dancing with the desert air. This is my release. I don’t need a gun. I don’t need to go shooting rabbits. I don’t carry a gun in my holster when I go to the mall.

Sometimes I take Mike with me. I tell him about why I have a rifle. At home it’s locked away, in the shed, in a place Mike doesn’t know about. Carly knows. Sometimes she comes too. She’s a woman with rough hands and gold hair. Mostly I go by myself though. When the sun is beating on my shoulders and that desert is shining with all this life you can’t see, like the thousands of ant colonies and flowering cacti on the mountaintop. It’s mine, that’s what other people don’t get. For miles and miles it’s just me shooting away what took me yesterday. Yesterday I thought about my mother. She died of cancer last year.


Routine and a Rifle

A family passed through once when I was out there with Mike. We were heading out, taking our rifles from the trunk. They were lost, trying to get to some hot springs in Camp Verde. The man hesitated, rolled down his window and just looked at me a while, maybe I’d shoot if he greeted me the wrong way. Then he asked if I knew how to get out to highway 89. His license plate said Colorado. His kids were quiet, blonde girls with flowers in their hair. They looked too, at the rifles, at Mike who must have been around their age. I thought maybe in Colorado they don’t go shooting much. I told the man about how to get to highway 89 and then I said, you know I only do this on Saturdays to teach my son about discipline, precision and isn’t a beautiful day? I smiled and the man said yes. Then he drove away and the clouds came in. As we placed the last cans on the wooden posts, the sun came back. The dry heat wrapped itself tight around our arms, and it was beautiful.