A Man of Few Words


I don’t know nuthin’ about guns these days, so forgive me if I get some shit wrong here. Or fuck it, don’t forgive me. Like I give a fuck. Just listen. You might learn somethin’.

I’m pointing this particular gun at the motherfucker who walked in here and tried to walk out with his pockets stuffed full of candy bars and the cash that’s supposed to be in the register. It used to be his gun. Feels like it’s made of plastic.

“Put that shit down, dumb-ass,” he says. “Gonna get someone killed.” He laughs and reaches into his pocket. I fire a shot, miss him completely. Pretend that’s what I meant to do.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” he says. “The fuck you do that for?” He’s whining now, and I don’t take kindly to whiners.

I pull the trigger again, but nothin’ happens. Click, it says.

I pull it again.


I fiddle with the thing. Can’t get it to work.

Weren’t no guns around here back in the day. Used to be, you wanted to rob a place you did it with a Louisville Slugger. You had a problem with someone, you settled it fist-to-fist.

Now? Every-fuckin’-body shoots everybody else. What the fuck happened?

Dumb Fucker’s walking toward the door now. He’s laughing. He stops, pulls a twelve pack of PBR from the cooler like it’s his own god damn personal ice box.

“That was a good trick you pulled, tough guy,” he says. Must be referrin’ to the way I come up ba’hind him and slid the gun out of his waistband, which caused his pants to sag down to his ankles. Don’t nobody wear a belt no more?

“I’ll kindly take back my gun now,” he says, putting his hand out.

Like fuck he will.

I go up to him and hold the gun out like I’m gonna give it back, which causes him to bend over. He reaches for it and I thwack him over the head with the butt end of it. Opens up a good little wound where his hair comes to a point in front. Used to call that the widow’s peak.

“Yow, holy fuck, you’re one crazy assed dude,” he says. He drops the PBR so’s he can put his hands up to his head to stop the bleedin’. The cardboard breaks open, the cans roll across the floor.

I put the gun in my coat pocket.

“Come on, man,” he says. There he goes with that whining shit again. “That ain’t even my gun. I gotta get it back.”

I look at him hard and nod toward his pockets, as if to say, gimme back my shit, motherfucker. So he does. Empties his pockets right there on the floor. Doesn’t notice he dropped his wallet.

“Can I have my gun now?”

Looks like a pussy, with his eyebrows raised up and a sweet-as-molasses grin covering his stupid mug.

I start laughing my ass off.

“Whatever, man,” he says. “I’ll be back.” He gets the hell outta there just in time. Jeannie passes him on the way in. She sees the beer cans, the candy, the blood. I reach for the wallet, tuck it beside the gun in my pocket.

“Dad, what’s going on here?” she says. She runs up to me like I’m a wounded puppy she found beside the road. “Oh my God, are you OK?”

She puts one hand on top of my head, the other on my wheelchair. She’s been takin’ care of me since my release from Pelican Bay on account of my cancer. After five decades behind bars, well, some things change, some never do.

I look my baby girl in the eyes. I’m thinking about how old she must be now. Gotta be in her sixties, I guess.

She runs behind the counter, finds her husband bleedin’ on the floor. Jeannie’s cryin’ now, which pisses me off even more.

I roll up to her, put my hand on her shoulder as she dials the cops.

I pull my oxygen mask to the side and whisper. “Don’t worry, baby girl. I know where the motherfucker lives.”

I don’t tell her about the gun.

~ fin ~

Richard Lake writes nonfiction to pay the mortgage. He writes fiction because it's truer. More true. Truthier. Whatever. He grew up running the streets of Las Vegas, delivered pizza for almost as long as he's been a newspaper reporter, and once watched a man die. This here's his first published piece of fiction. Watch him freak out about it at byrichardlake.blogspot.com.