The Sick Smile On Steve’s Face

This is an old story…

The sun was shining off the sand, hot and white.  My eyes two slits.  I had my buddy Charlie in front of me; we were making our way through the sump path, down to the water’s edge to hunt bullfrogs with our pellet guns.  CO2 powered air guns with a high velocity, our pellet guns could take out a bullfrog in one shot.  The thing about hunting bullfrogs is you have to look for their eyes floating above the water.  You can find them on the shore line waiting in high grass but the most challenging way to shoot them is between the eyes floating in the water.

We walked with soft steps only to see Steve down by the water.  Steve the hyper active only child with rich parents on the corner was never a good sign when you were sneaking around looking for some frogs to hunt.  He had a way of messing things up.

We waited behind the bushes away from the shore line and back stepped when Steve started skipping rocks across the sump.  We watched from above, looking down the steep slope at the little world around us.  We waited on Steve, thought about hunting him and instead waited some more.

As time passed Charlie and I became bored and we made our way down the steep slope towards Steve…  A few ducks landed on the water.  Steve saw our pellet guns.

“Shoot the ducks” he laughed.

“What” I asked?

Charlie said “no”.

Steve wasn’t allowed to have pellet guns or B.B. guns.  His mother wouldn’t allow it.

“Shoot em.”

“It’s a duck, Steve” I said as I flared my arms out.


“I can’t.”

“Give me the gun” he insisted.

“You can’t kill the duck either”  I told him.

“Yes I can, give me the gun.”

“No you can’t.”

“Bullshit.  I’ll shoot it right in the head.”

“You’re gonna hit the duck between the eyes?  Otherwise this gun isn’t strong enough to kill a duck.  It’s pellet gun!  All you’ll have is a loud bleeding duck to deal with.  It’s cruel!”

“Let me try.”

“NO” I was getting angry with Steve.

“No wonder your mom won’t let you have a gun” Charlie added in.
From out of nowhere my older brother grabbed my arms and my pellet gun.  He had snuck up on us when we were arguing.

My brother aimed at the duck.  The light twinkled off the still water, the little ripples left over from the ducks landing vanished.  Silence fell upon us.  If anyone would have something to say it would have to be me.

We all watched the male Mallard, its color, the ease at which it cut the surface, the clean gleam of the barrel and the sick smile on Steve’s face.  The cross-hairs steady on the ducks head.

Time stood still as I found the courage to say something to my brother.

He looked down at me as I spoke.

“DON’T! That’s my gun.”
Steve was excited bouncing on his toes chanting out “shoot it, shoot it” in a half whisper.

My brother turned with the gun in his hand and shot Steve in the thigh.  The sick smile passing from Steve’s face to my brothers.  The Mallards, pumping for a short range take off  flew over the barbwire fence; the reflections off the water and the screams from Steve, filled the air, startling everything living within earshot.

Steve went to school with a bruise the size of a pancake on his thigh with a little white center where the pellet was lodged.  No frogs were killed that day and the Mallards found a safer place to rest.  The closest Steve ever was to owning a gun was the pellet he kept, the one the doctor removed from his leg.  The pellet my brother put into his thigh.

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