Bulletozoa / 7 October 1998

Nate’s dad escorted him into the backyard where the toolshed was squatting, hand-built from wood that was made of the scraps and shavings of other pieces of wood. Once inside, he pulled a handgun from inside his toolbox, and this gun was of the blunt, silver variety, the kind used by all the TV cops in the 70s. Nate’s dad said something about this being the day that Nate became a man. Nate’s dad fiddled in his shirt pocket for a bit and pulled out a handful of bullets. There are two ways to go about shooting a pistol, he told Nate. There’s the hard way and the easy way. The hard way, he said, is practice and practice and practice, throwing away days and days of your life, shooting at little paper targets or tin cans. The Abilocks don’t do things the hard way, Nate’s dad said, and Nate nodded mutely. So here’s the easy way, and you’ve lucked out because not only is it easy, but it’s better, too. So Nate’s dad placed one of the bullets on the worktable and started bisecting it with a hacksaw. Little steel curlicues unwound themselves from the casing and drifting earthwards as Nate’s dad carefully ran the saw’s teeth over the shell. Once there was a workable slit in the bullet, he put the hacksaw down and blew the excess dust away. Now, Nate’s dad said, the secret ingredient. From his hip pocket he pulled out a small, plastic amber bottle, like the kind prescription medicine comes in. He undid the childproof lid and dipped his finger inside, withdrawing a small dab of a sticky, greyish substance. I think you know what this is, he said. Nate’s dad then massaged the bullet carefully with his finger, letting the steel and powder inside absorb the fluid. When he was done, Nate’s dad held the bullet up for inspection. See there? Now you’re ready. Those bastards are designed for seeking and destroying, and they belong to you and me. You just need to think in your head what you want to hit, and they’ll do the rest. Nate’s dad handed the pistol to his son and took him back out into the yard. See that apple? The one hanging off the tree on the far right? I want you to peg that thing. Nate protested, saying he’d never shot a gun before. I know, I know, Nate’s dad said. But we’re using the easy way, remember? Just get that apple in your head and the bullet’ll do the rest. So Nate looked at the apple on the far side of the yard, tried to memorize exactly how it looked and even began to imagine what it would look like after being torn apart by the bullet. A number of sensory and motor activities accompanied the pulling of the trigger, including a rapid heart rate, an increase in blood pressure, an increase in respiration, and pleasurable sensations.

Joshua Green Allen

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