She hefted the gun in her hand and looked at him for confirmation. But he wasn’t paying attention, still continuing an argument she had disengaged from half an hour ago.
“…You’re floating. You’ve been floating all your life, since you were born, since you were conceived if you want to be technical. And so naturally this appeals to you.”
She didn’t need to be told it appealed to her. He longed for it like a firm reassuring handshake from someone you admire. Or a bodyguard you could put under your pillow. Obviously this bodyguard could also take the side of your face off without thinking, but that didn’t bear thinking.
“But just because something appeals to you, doesn’t make it the right decision.”
She looked at him, tried to make her gaze heavy with irony as she roved her eyes over his features. The black stubble just beginning to poke out, the firm jaw, so good at its job that it sometimes looked like he was chewing his words, his small blue eyes, clear and bathing in the waters of pragmatism. She had always been short and she suspected he got off a little on the feeling of having her look up to him. Yes. Her heart was a fallible decision-maker. And her lover was as oblivious as a brick.
“Also, and I know you won’t like me saying this, but are you sure it’s not just because I’ve got one?”
She wished he didn’t think everything was about him, almost as much as she wished it wasn’t true. Of course he had been the impetus, the inspiration. None of her other boyfriends would have even been allowed a gun, thanks to Australian laws there were more overpopulated roos than there were criminals with uzis. And this was the gunshop that he went to, where they were tossing up between a few brands, all of which he’d used. Admittedly they were more feminine models, in deference to the fragility of her sex, which didn’t like having its shoulder-blades shattered from recoil. Still, she would have liked him to accept this one was about her.
“No,” she said, patting him on the shoulder that wasn’t holding the gun up to the light. He ignored her, staring down into its depths. “Thanks for the thought. It’s not that you’ve got a gun, it’s that–” she looked around the shop. It was empty other than the manager, who’d taken hers and Brett’s licences and presumably run it through a database, and then left them alone. ” –it’s that other people do.”
This wasn’t entirely true. She knew as well as he did that of the crimes that occurred – though many were violent – guns didn’t hold the same pride-of-place here as they did in America. Instead Aussies had come up with weird and wonderful ways of brutalising each other that spoke to the creativity possible when you wanted to plead technically unarmed. Calie just knew that when put on the spot, she would rather have the Luger than the PVC pipe with the sharpened end and elastic band.
“Oh kay,” he said, still unsure but handing it over to her anyway. Calie didn’t know why he was making such a big deal out of it, when she’d held, and shot, his before. She suspected there might be some male bonding power symbolism going on, but she was too busy lining up the deer heads above the counter in her sights.
“That’s not loaded is it?” the owner called, even though he’d been watching and hadn’t handed them any ammo when he’d passed the gun over the counter. Still, she flinched and hated herself for it.
“Just getting a–”
“She’s just getting a feel for it buddy,” said Brett, protecting her from having to finish her own sentence.
She looked at the two boys. It hadn’t occurred to her until now, but they were as nervous as if this was their first time in a devil’s threesome. What if they touched cocks? She still had the weight of the 9mm in her hand, though pointing down this time. It was heavy, would be heavier still when filled with bullets. The store smelled of fresh carpet and stale men. She put her finger on the trigger, took it off, put it on again. Brett was right, she had been floating for so long.
Image: Sophia Sforza
A recent Creative Writing graduate and a founding member of Dead Poets’ Fight Club, Rafael S.W has been published in The Big Issue Fiction Edition, Voiceworks, and Award Winning Australian Writing. He also regularly contributes to Going Down Swinging online and competes in poetry slams and giant-sized chess games. http://rafaelsw.com