Been wanting to put something here, but I'm doing this juggling thing this week (and next and prolly the next one after that, at least) so I decided to share a little fictoid I wrote. This is an excerpt from a future project with the working title Twenty Dollar Whore:


- - - - - - -


Eager Gillespie was only twenty-two when took one in the face. He and about a dozen others had a guy holed up in a house on Northeast Thirty-Sixth, a man who'd fired a shot that sent his family scattering out the nearest doors and windows like a flock of juncos stirred by the shadow of a hawk. Command was there, press vans lined up half a block away. Circling news copter. A negotiator on a cell phone whose mate had been toss through the open front door. The man with the gun didn't have much to say. No one knew what had set him off. His wife claimed they'd never owned a gun, had no idea where he'd gotten it. The son, a sweaty fourteen-year-old with a video gamer's sullen self-confidence, identified it as a revolver—something big, he said. No other guns in sight. So they're figuring best case is five shots left, next best that he'd reloaded the one chamber after everyone fled. But maybe he had something else tucked in his waistband too. Worst case could be pretty fucking bad when you spun out the possibilities. That's why the phone, the command team, the calm-voiced negotiator.


Except the guy suddenly appears at the door and the gun in his hand rises. Half a dozen cops, at least, empty their weapons at him. He gets the one shot off. Eager Gillespie takes it in the corner of one eye, and the man in the house sits down in the doorway, peers down at his bloody chest and fingers one of the bullet holes like a man checking out some dry rot. Eager looks like he's weeping blood as he gazes around at those around him. He opens his mouth, but only gibberish comes out, maybe something about Jesus. He shuts up, surprised at the sound of his own voice. Someone rushes over to him and then he says he's fine, maybe has a little headache is all. Bleeding, still bleeding. He sits on the fender of a cruiser and tries to wave off the paramedics. The man in the doorway calls out, asks for a glass of water. He's got thirteen bullets in him. Eager has one just the one, a .22 from a single-shot long-barrelled pistol. Ten minutes later Eager's dead, and the man on the porch still wants a glass of water.


Later, it comes out he'd found the pistol in Gamer Boy's bedroom. The first discharge, the one that sent the family running, had been an accident. He'd barged into the kitchen to confront his son, fired a shot without knowing how it happened. When everyone ran and the cops showed, he panicked, replaced the bullet with one he'd found in a box under his son's pillow. He was ashamed he was such a poor parent he hadn't even known his son had gotten hold of a weapon. He couldn't stand the thought of what that meant about who he was. The bullet was for him. Then the phone came through the window and the calm voice talked to him about how everything was going to work out if he'd just come out. And so he'd come walking out, lifting the gun to give to the calm voice on the phone, but when the cops all started shooting he'd fired again. Another mistake, a reflex, a reactive clench of his hand. Bang. He never meant to hurt anyone. He just wanted to know where his son got a goddamn gun.


No one believed his bullshit story. Eager was dead, a hard-working probie you couldn't help but like the way you like any puppy anxious to please. As far as most of us were concerned, that was the end of the story. Beginning and middle too.


Except I believe all kinds of bullshit anymore. And why the hell not? I only had a week to live. I could afford to live dangerously.

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Comment by Bill Cameron on March 17, 2007 at 4:30am
Thank you, Scott! It's just a flavor at this point, of course.
Comment by Scott Hess on March 17, 2007 at 2:23am
Very nice!
Comment by Bill Cameron on March 14, 2007 at 12:14pm
Thanks, Mary!
Comment by Mary L. Wheeling on March 14, 2007 at 11:32am
Great piece, Bill. Especially the ending of the second paragraph, "Ten minutes later Eager's dead, and the man on the porch still wants a glass of water."

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