The gun range always sounds like a house being re-shingled. In the club office there are targets for sale. Animals on cream-colored paper. Crows and squirrels. Something that looks like a woodchuck. And there are larger cutouts on cardboard of deer and hogs. Daddy’s favorite is the green head and chest of a man, as tall as I am. He buys one and then picks up scissors from the counter. A few snips and the head looks like it has long hair, and a few more snips at the sides and it looks like it’s wearing a dress. Get the case, he says. And if I can carry its long bulk all the way to our slot without banging into things along the way, he lets me take a shot at the end, just before we go back.
We always stop at the Whip In for his beer and a cherry popsicle for me. I watch the minnows sold for bait in open-top metal beer coolers without the ice. Little nets are there in side pockets, and you can scoop the shiners into big Styrofoam cups if you haven’t brought your own bucket. The minnows line up sometimes in rows and then all turn the same way at the same time, silky fins waving. When he finishes his Carling Black Label, I turn around to see he’s already back in the car.
In front of the house he kills the truck engine and twists himself around toward me on the bench seat. Says, Here’s how it’s going to go. Me nodding yes, showing I’m listening. And he says, In case she has found where I keep the gun cabinet keys and is just waiting in there, you need to go in first. Then he hands me the door key. Open the door quick and hard, he says. Make your steps sound like a giant on your way to the back room. Most times then he lights a cigarette and rolls his window down a little. Watches the smoke find a way out. Just give me a wave, he says, if the coast is clear. Then he leans way across and kind of throws my door open. Go go go, he says behind me, when I’m already up the walk. And then I slam things every place I can.
has taught creative writing and literature at The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of North Texas, and the Writer’s Garret, in Dallas. He now lives in Marfa, Texas. He is the author of This Is Not the Way We Came In, a collection of flash fiction and a flash novel (Ravenna Press), Winter Investments: Stories (Trilobite Press), and Prairie Shapes: A Flash Novel (winner of the 2004 Robert J. DeMott Prose Contest). His poems, short stories, and creative nonfictions have appeared in magazines and anthologies across the country, including Blink Ink, Cutbank, Eastern Iowa Review, New Flash Fiction Review, Star 82 Review, and Third Wednesday, among others.
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