Out With a Bang
I have decided that I am going to kill myself.
I think it’s important someone understand why, so I’m making this video before I blow my head off. The first time I remember it happening I was nine. Johnny Weller and I were playing in his back yard. The sun was setting over his back fence, warm oranges and reds shining through the bone-white slats like a creamsicle against pearly white teeth. Johnny was the cowboy and I was the dirty redskin, stealing his horse. We ran around the swingset, him laughing and me whooping and threatening to scalp him. When he tripped, I ran to where he laid in the dirt, scooping up a handful of air, pointing my finger at his nose and proclaimed, “I got your gun now! BANG!”
Johnny’s head exploded in a tremendous blossom of crimson blood, slate-gray brain and chips of skull that sparkled in the setting sun. My hand fell to my side, and I stared, open-mouthed, unable to understand what just happened. Someone was screaming. At first I thought it must be Johnny’s mother, until she tore open the back door and I realized I was the one screaming. Johnny’s mother crumpled against her son’s headless body, adding her broken sobs to my horrified cries.
Johnny’s funeral was the next week, closed casket. I forgot the sparkling light shimmering across the cloud of Johnny’s blood. I forgot Johnny’s mother rag-dolling my little body, begging me to tell her what happened to her son. I forgot the sherrif telling my mother Johnny was hit by a falling bullet, one of twenty six cases each year. I forgot my father’s quiet talks with my mother about how they never found the round that spattered Johnny’s smile across the grass. I adjusted. I coped. I forgot.
I didn’t forget the next time it happened. I never played cowboys and indians again; in fact, I can’t remember a single instance of any shooting game played by little boys anywhere in my childhood. I do remember the little girl in the park, pop pop popping her little nerf balls as she bounced around. She ran up to me, brandishing the weapon and shouting, “Hands up!”
I smiled and complied, dropping my sandwich in mock terror. I lifted my hands to the sky and petitioned for mercy. A true homicidal maniac in the making, she executed me with a flurry of staccato pop pop pops. I dutifully played dead, sprawling across my bench. She giggled and proclaimed, “Your turn. Shoot me!”
A sudden sensation of intense discomfort slithered up my spine. I thought of flowers, glittering crimson roses, wet with morning dew. She eyed me impatiently, apparently convinced she might have to nerf me once more to provoke a response. I lifted my finger weakly, pointed at her and whispered, “Bang”.
This time I wasn’t the one screaming. Her mother cradled her baby’s dismembered limbs, frantically clutching an arm, then a leg. I had pointed my finger at the little girl’s belly button. The moment the word left my lips, she ruptured like a water balloon filled with punch and soaking bits of crimson colored fruit. Johnny Weller’s decapitated body filled my vision, the slow red of sunset sliding down the front of his striped shirt. I ran.
I can’t do this anymore. I got pissed at Laura yesterday and put my finger in her face to tell her off. I didn’t even say it. I couldn’t bring myself to sop my girlfriend’s brains off the kitchen floor. I can’t do this anymore.
All I have to do is put my finger against my temple and say it.
At least I’ll go out with a bang.