Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Free Time

We should go shooting, Ryan says. He pours rainbow sprinkles into the square-like, metal toppings holder. I don’t believe in guns, I say. Well, he replies, they exist, whether you do or not. He tells Justin, who is one year younger than me, that he’ll give him a raise if he can run across the parking lot unscathed while Ryan, from the back of our shop, fires a gun at his heels. He would never. The streets of south Orange County are too clean and white. A few years ago, Irvine was singled out as one of the top five safest cities in America. Gate codes and picket fences gentrifying like weeds. Means keep out. On a Sunday, we agree to go with Ryan to the range. Inside, Justin and I: the only non-white bodies in sight. We are used to this. When the door opens to the firing lanes, the reverberation of bullets assaults our muffled ears. I tell Ryan I am only here to watch. That I read the papers. That I don’t want to learn, but to understand. That’s not how this works. Ryan fits the gun, which used to be his grandfather’s, to my right hand. I don’t pull away. Hold on tight, he says. And be mindful of the kickback. I fix my finger to the trigger. Easy now. It jumps in response. My hands heavy with sweat and speed. Bullseye. The bullet eats through the paper, which covers the face and chest of that cardboard outline of a man. What are we practicing for? You’re a natural, he tells me. My hands shake. I want to hate him, and everyone in this place, but then, here I am. Gun in hand. Can you believe, Ryan says, turning to me, that they want to take this away from us.  

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