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Today's Story by W. Ross Ayers

His eyes were glassy and wide. He started screaming, “Don’t you ever shoot anyone, ever again.”

The Black Metal Barreled BB Gun

Mom, Rich and I were driving down Rogers highway on the way to Tecumseh; the town twenty miles north of Blissfield.

It was a beautiful hot Michigan summer day. The sky was blue with big white clouds. The fields where covered with short bushy soybeans and tall green corn stalks higher than our car. The green fields blurred by as we drove down the straight flat road.

“Hey boys, there’s a garage sale. Wanna stop?”

“Yeah,” Rich and I yelled.

During the slow Michigan summers garage sales were irresistible. Asking to stop was just part of the fun. We stopped at all of them.

She slowed the ’72 tan Plymouth station wagon, pulled into the gravel driveway and parked under the big maple tree. We got out of the car. In front us stood a white wooden garage with its hinged swinging doors wide open.

We walked into the dark wooden building. The floor was concrete and cool air passed over me as I walked further in. My eyes took a moment to adjust. Folding tables filled with piles of clothes, old vases and trinkets appeared around the edges of the garage.

Then I saw it.

The black metal barreled BB gun was laying on a long folding table next to a jigsaw puzzle of a New England forest in fall. I went straight to the BB gun and picked it up. It was all black with a dark brown wooden stock. It was a single-shot lever action just like an old cowboy rifle. It cocked by pulling the hand guard out till it clicked. It was way cool.

The handwritten price tag made from masking tape was stuck on the side of the dark wooden stock. It said $1.25. I had three dollars in my pocket that I had saved from my weekly allowance of two dollars for mowing the lawn and burning the trash.

“Mom, can I buy this? I have enough money.”

Rich had already had a BB gun for almost a year. So I knew she couldn’t say no.

“Well, I guess so, you’re old enough now, if you promise to use it responsibly.”

“I promise.”

It was a Saturday in early December that same year, white snow was deep on the ground. The trees had been bare brown for months. It had snowed almost everyday since a week before Thanksgiving.

Rich and I were outside with our BB guns under the giant catalpa tree in the side yard next to the driveway. The tree’s short stocky trunk and three long bare arms reached up higher than our old two story farmhouse.

We walked through the knee deep snow lifting up our snowmobile boots, crunching down step by step.  Our thick parkas were wrapped around us, zipped up all the way with the furry fringes tight around our faces.

Horizon to horizon the sky was filled with gray haze. It was midday. The sun was nowhere to be seen. We hadn’t seen it for weeks.

“I bet you can’t hit that limb,” Rich said.

“Which one?”

“The lowest one on that little tree.”

I could see Rich’s breath like smoke coming out of his mouth and nose.

I cocked my BB gun, aimed, held it steady and slowly pulled the trigger.


The limb didn’t move.

His silence told me of his judgment.

Rich turned lifting his snowmobile boots out of the crunchy snow, walking towards the two cracked concrete steps of our crooked pressboard-covered porch to go inside.

The back of his thick brown parka filled my vision as wide as the large brown wooden barn on the property next to ours.

I watched as I cocked my BB gun, aimed, held it steady and slowly pulled the trigger.


SNAP!  The BB landed.

Rich stopped one boot half in snow.

I stopped breathing.

He turned looking over his shoulder at me holding my black metal barreled BB gun pointing at him.

I could see his breath like smoke coming out of his mouth and nose.

He looked straight at me then began shrieking and shrieking, wailing at the top of his lungs.

“Stop!” I yelled. “It didn’t even hurt. It ricocheted off the tree. It was an accident. Stop it!”

Rich kept shrieking jogging through the knee deep snow. I followed.

I was screwed. He was going straight to Mom and Dad. There was no wiggle room on the rules for the BB guns.

Dad opened the back door before we even got to the porch.

“What is going on?” he screamed still wearing his dirty work clothes standing in his gray wool socks pushed down, half off his feet.

“Walt shot me with the BB gun!” Rich screamed hysterically.

“It was an accident. It ricocheted off the tree!”

“Get inside right now!”

He yanked my BB gun out of my hands as I walked by him into the house. He held it by the barrel like a baseball bat.

I frantically kicked off my snowy boots next to the door.

His face snarled. His eyes were glassy and wide. He started screaming, “Don’t you ever shoot anyone, ever again.”

The small back room of our house shook.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”

“You’re gonna be sorry!”

The gun rose in his hands and came down striking me in the small of my back.  I ran across the curled fake linoleum floor of the kitchen in my wet baggy wool socks slipping, not able to get any speed. He ran behind me swinging, lifting my feet off the floor when the wooden stock landed against my backside.


“PleasePleasePlease! I’m sorry!”


“I didn’t mean to!”



After dinner when I was allowed to leave my room I saw the black metal barreled BB gun lying on the floor next to Dad’s worn tan corduroy La-Z-Boy. A wide crack ran from behind the trigger all the way down the wooden stock.

A week later I got my BB gun back. I took yellowish wood glue and poured it down the long crack. Then I wrapped the wooden stock as tight as I could with a piece of white clothes line. I left it like that until the glue dried.

This piece was read as part of a production of “Action Fiction!”, sponsored by Fiction365 and Omnibucket

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