User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active

You were twelve years old the first time you looked down the barrel of a loaded gun. Your friend Dennis thought the loaded shotgun on Grandpa’s back porch was a toy. His smiling lips mouthed “bang” when he squeezed the trigger. The safety, a thin strip of rigid metal on the back of the 12-gauge Mossberg, saved your life.

Grandpa pounded out the back door, curses spilling from tight lips. He tore the gun from Dennis and cuffed his ear, banishing him from the property forever.

You knew better than Dennis. Grandpa taught you to respect the sacred power of guns before you even learned to ride a bike. “Always treat a gun like it’s loaded. Keep your finger off the trigger. Don’t point at anything you don’t intend to kill.” You were a willing and faithful disciple.

Grandpa’s church was the forest. Your favorite childhood memories were spent next to him in the reverential silence of the early morning. In those moments, you felt a connection. You knew your place. 

You were an expert marksman before you joined the Army. They didn’t have to teach you to shoot, but they did give you a different target. Things got twisted as you dragged through your second deployment. The righteous responsibility of your rifle faded. Covered in layers of dirt and lost brethren, your M-4 became a mundane tool. It put down barking village dogs. The buttstock split foreheads, pushing back the claustrophobic crowds. Iron sights only had to lead the turbans by a hair. Even when they were running away.

One dishonorable discharge led to another. The Brotherhood of the Gun has no room for forgiveness, no salvation.

Now you’re the banished one, back on Grandpa’s porch. He passed while you were overseas, but his loaded shotgun remains. You cradle the polished wood stock in your lap. Afternoon falters into dusk. You switch the safety back and forth. Back and forth.



I'm a military veteran who lives in Beaverton Oregon with my wife and three kids. I began writing as a form of mental health therapy. My goal is to someday help others with his writing as well. While I have no formal writing education, I have had other short fiction works published through and is my current website, which is in-process of being developed.


Donate a little?

Use PayPal to support our efforts:


Genre Poll

Your Favorite Genre?

Sign Up for info from Short-Story.Me!

Stories Tips And Advice