Down At the Range On A Summer’s Day

Liam Stover

The last notes of Springsteen fade away on the FM Radio,
the Cadillac black as midnight coal pulls in front of a melancholy, light gray looking shack with paint peeling and windows as dirty as a rusty cage
the crack! and snap! of rounds go off over yonder beyond the hill
and my uncle with his dark blue t shirt and red Phillies cap lugs the immense black vault of a gun case toward the open door.

One,two, three, four, five men of all ages and sizes greet us,
Headsets on they fire at distant paper targets with a crackle of noise like the snap of branches breaking in a gale,
my uncle shows me how to hold his pistol
Two hands and nothing else! he says to me,
my knees shake like a thousand earthquakes while I raise the barrel and look down the sight that looks like a single pebble of metallic sand.

Oh God! I am so scared!
My mind races like the winds of a Caribbean hurricane on the Atlantic,
My breath comes in short gasps as I point the pistol straight and narrow, a billion thoughts racing through my head like pulses of microscopic light,
But then I feel a firm hand on my shoulder and a voice in my ear,
You can do this he says! Nice and easy!

A breath and a squeeze.
I open my eyes and I see my uncle smiling at me with his two thumbs up and a single tiny hole in the paper circle downrange,
there is high fiving and pats on the back by the guys
but I see my uncle with a grin as wide as the Grand Canyon with nothing but joy on his face and he nods at me and I nod back and in that moment, fear could no longer conquer me as we were down at the range on a summer’s day.


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