Monday, November 21, 2005

The Gun Lovers

I knew this girl who got shot in the face. She was laying in
a meadow with her boyfriend when a farmer who lived
down the way say her hair in the grass and mistook her for
a gopher. The bullet hit her in the cheek and went straight
through her mouth, grazing her tongue and snapping her
jaw before passing out her other cheek. When the farmer
saw what he had done, he threw down his rifle and had a
heart attack, leaving the boyfriend panicking in the middle
of nowhere, the old man near death in the distance and his
girlfriend spitting up blood at his feet.

A couple of years before this, I was acquainted with a guy
who got no respect from anyone. He was a high school kid
six times more awkward than most, acne-ridden and un-
attractive and obsessive. When people weren’t ignoring him,
they were making fun of him and it made him terrible. He
was hung up on the concept of revenge. There was this movie
that was popular around then: it was about an angry man who
went around shooting and beating up the people he thinks
have wronged him. This kid watched it over and over again.
One day, so the story goes, he came to school and told someone
to look in his backpack at the shiny silver pistol he had brought.
Wouldn’t it be great, he asked, if someone made that movie
come true? Wouldn’t a high school be a perfect place for it?
He never did it and we were never sure if the story was true
or just more teenaged bullshit, but a year later he got suspen-
ded for trying to run people over with his truck.

I think about him when I think of this other guy I knew, an
intense guy, a funny guy but still obviously a guy with some
issues to work through. He told me that if he wanted to kill
himself, he would definitely do it with a gun. Any other way
would betray a lack of seriousness. Pills just make you go to
sleep and hanging was too unreliable, too flighty. A gun was
the way to go. A gun gets the job done, he explained. He also
wanted me to know that he wasn’t one of these assholes who’d
do a thing like that shut up in a closet or out in the woods
somewhere. No, put the barrel right up under his chin and
pull the trigger right in the middle of a busy sidewalk. That
way, he reasoned, he wouldn’t just die, he’d also ruin a whole
bunch of stranger’s days.

Truth be told, though, I’m not sure why I remember that guy
when I should be remembering another guy, the son of my
music history teacher, a kid I saw around sometimes, a golden
boy on the hockey team. There was a night that he broke into
someone’s apartment with his friends, looking to steal some
stuff, but it all went bad. They woke up the man’s 12-year-old
sister and he came rushing into the room to see why she was
screaming. That’s when the golden boy shot the working man
dead. They put him away for twelve years. A promising future
and one fatal mistake and cracks beneath the surface of the per-
fect family–you know the closing argument cliches. He’s
probably out by now.