Wendy came into the living room that next morning. She hadn’t slept. None of us had. Her parents, my brother and his wife, were lying awake at that sad hour, searching more tears, trying to crawl into one another. The sunrise was just a suggestion in the dark windows. She shook me and I pretended to wake. She asked me if I still carried a gun and I told her yes and showed her my ankle. She stared at it long enough I felt compelled to connect the two. I asked her if she wanted to hold it. I removed the magazine and cleared the chamber and placed it in her hands. I’ll never forget how it puzzled her as she searched it for the source of its power. She thought it was ugly. She asked me if I had ever killed anyone and I told her I never even removed my service weapon from the holster, had to unsnap it a few times but never drew. I had friends who did but I had a lot more friends who didn’t. I also knew cops who quit being cops because they could never find a reason to draw their weapons. She asked if I had talked to the cops who killed her sister’s murderer. I told her yes, I had. I told her they looked like hell. They had to shoot a kid that night, a child no older than Wendy. She asked me, if I had been there, would I have killed him? I told her I would have if he forced me. She told me she wished they hadn’t killed him. She wasn’t looking at me. She was looking at that kid. She was staring straight into his eyes again through the pleated smoke seeping from the barrel of the rifle. We sat for a long time at the edge of the cot as morning crept into the room and changed the color of the walls. She finally handed back the gun and asked me to show her how to use it.
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Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.