The thirty-eight snub felt heavy
in my thirteen year old hands.
It was my father's gun. Fully loaded,
I found it in the hallway closet
next to his nine shot three-eighty.
His nine mill must've been
in the small of his back, just above
the blue flag in his left back pocket.
I wore a red one hanging from my right.
My father beat my mother often:
handling her like Ali tipping up
a bantam weight. That's why I chose
the other side. I wanted nothing to do
with anything that allowed my father
to belong. I hated him. Almost as much
as I loved and feared him.
He was my father. Not a man
to be trifled with.
My father stood six-foot two,
two-sixty. His body chiseled hard
over a six year penitentiary bid
lasting from my fourth to my tenth b-day.
He was a bitter man. Not like
the faint image that clung to
ancient memories hidden in dark
crevices that sometimes stirred
when he took me to play ball.
That father, too, still existed.
His intermittent reappearances
fed my hopes and my mother's prayers
that he would one day return.
Something happened to him in prison.
He came out CCO and pushing
a hard line in the hood.
The money it brought was welcomed,
but the terror that came with it
had me wishing for a return to poverty:
the days before the dark six.
I turned the pistol over in the gloom,
a drop of light skittering along
its blue steel barrel. The trigger felt
tight as I examined my heart
for the courage to give into my rage.
My mother's mewling cries still
reached me, barely audible behind
her closed bedroom door. My father
was silent though. Sometimes, after
beating mother particularly brutally,
remorse would grip him like a python
seizing a meal.
I wouldn't have much longer. I knew
sherm had made father's moods
unpredictable, but indecision still gripped me
like a muscle spasm, my heart squeezed
by a crushing gauntlet. I looked up
and saw father's form filling
the open doorway; his gaze riveted
on the snub nose in my grip.
The gun pointed shakily at my father
as I watched the scene dispassionately.
It was almost like watching a video game;
3D graphics rendered in stunning detail
on my PS3. I could nearly see the beads
of sweat tentatively sprouting across my brow
as a sneer curled my father's lips.
He started forward and the snub ceased
its shake. Father noticed.
The report of the gun filled the tiny
space of the hallway, the sound of the snub
swallowed by the larger bark
of my father's nine. The pain I felt was
intense, so intense, the snub fell from my
grip as I stood watching my body in slo-mo
falling backwards; a blood blossom spreading
on my white Tommy shirt matched to one
on my father's Sean John. Painlessly, I stared
down the hallway where my father lay
knowing he'd never hit my mother again.