A Marvelous Gun Unshot

Illustration by Ratbee Press, 2016.

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A Marvelous Gun Unshot

by James McNaughton
Southern Cultures, Vol. 22, No. 2: Summer 2016

"It must have been these stories that convinced me to go with him to a Texas gun and knife show. Camera slung to my chest, an AR-15 assault rifle strapped to his back, we walked into the Longview Civic Center."

He let himself in the house without knocking, as had become his habit, and placed a bag of peaches on the counter—a present from the farmers’ market. His arm was in a sling from shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, an injury from shooting his assault rifle at the outdoor gun range repeatedly and rapidly, wishing it was an automatic, until he lost his balance, stumbled a few paces, and tripped. Putting down the bag of peaches, he said he’d been back there shooting a new gun. You might give that shoulder a chance, I said. You’re going to love this pistol, he said. It’s a smooth shot, man, aim sure to fifty yards and more. He pulled it from his coat pocket and handed it to me. I stopped cutting onions and gripped the blue-black pistol by the wooden handle. I was surprised, as always, by the weight. It’s not loaded, is it? I felt compelled to ask and wanted to remind him not to bring a loaded weapon into my house. It’s a Nazi officer’s gun, he said. It even has the bird on the side, and the crest. And there they were.