• jeffreypohn


Dad gets moody when he drinks. He veers between belting out songs from the musical, Camelot to ranting about the things he hates, like the outrageous harassment of Lenny Bruce at the hands of the police, or his mother-in-law’s ugly feet. One of dad’s passions is James Bond. He reads all the Bond books to me, and takes me to Bond movies. He purchases the same gun Bond uses, and shoots out of his apartment window, into the city below. Then, one day, he hands me the gun. It’s pretty heavy. I just look at it.

“Shoot!.” dad commands.

I shake my head “no”, feeling smaller than I usually do.

“Are you saying ‘no’ to me?”

“I guess.”

“I’m your father.”

“I’m your son.”

“You don’t have to hit anything, Duffy. Just shoot, see what it feels like.”

“Can’t we just paint?”

“Not until we do this, first.”

“Why do I have to do it?”

“Because I want you to know what it means to be a man.”

“I’m not a man.”

“Alright, I’m taking you home to your mommy’s.”

“Fine with me.”

“That does it. You shoot or you get shot.”

I’m pretty sure my dad doesn’t really mean it, but with him, I never know. I take the gun, and with my eyes closed tight, I shoot out of the window. It shakes me up pretty bad. Dad takes the gun from my hand.

“Nice shooting, Deadeye. I think you hit a guy crossing the street.”

“What?!”, I say with alarm.

“Easy, pardner. Just yankin’ your lariat.”

Dad pulls me close to him, makes me look into his face.

“Duffy, what we just did is our secret. You can’t tell anyone, especially your mom.”

For years afterward, I wonder if I did kill anyone.

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