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Today's Story by Jon Mcgill

You wanted to kill somebody, well, okay.

Drunk and Crazy

And so there I was, riding shotgun in a stolen Oldsmobile beside my friend and trusted spiritual advisor, Terrence Snow, listening to him scream over the pummeling wind about God, how He had abandoned us in this hour. So many things didn’t make sense. There was a revolver on the floor between my feet. Dry blood on my fingertips. It was sunrise, our third sunrise without sleep. I wasn’t sure about the kid in the backseat. I’d only just remembered him a couple minutes earlier and was too terrified to ask. He had duct tape over his mouth, and seemed to be crying.

There is a moment in every person’s life when he is broken forever. I wondered if this was mine. I wanted Terrence’s opinion on this, and over the roar of the wind I shouted, is this it? Again and again I begged Terrence to tell me—if this was it, our time to break. He smiled, gave me a thumbs up.

The thought of how far I’d come still made me breathless. Two months earlier I was handing people their alprazolams, simvastatins, buproprions, at a hospital two thousand miles away, in Toledo. I had a life, a roomy house, and left it behind. I figured if civilization was about to end I wanted to do something radical, something requiring courage. I’d spent years with a woman who no longer enjoyed my touch, and I just wanted to feel something real, to know I could, in some way, still be affected.

I met Terrence Snow on the I-17, the morning my car broke down. He offered me a ride, and, after careful persuasion, rent-free living. I sensed he was a man hollowed out by methamphetamines. We’d often spend evenings on his roof, drunk, discussing metaphysics while we smacked golf balls at the cars on the freeway.

I’d known all along what was going to happen, but it wasn’t until the three of us were standing in an open field, the kid at the business end of the revolver, that I truly understood.

I can’t do this, I said—to the kid, to Terrence Snow, to the Arizona sky curved above our heads.


I can’t do it. Can’t shoot him.

Terrence groaned, said that was fucking great. So now what? I said he could shoot the kid.  That’d be alright.

No, no, no. This is your show.

We argued like that, back and forth, until the kid screamed for one of us to just shoot him already.

What’s this about? I said.

You wanted to kill somebody, well, okay.

What, so he’s—you’re okay with this?

The kid just smiled, said why—what’s the problem?

I can’t kill somebody who wants to die. That’s the whole idea.

Come on, Marty. Just shoot him.

I could see downtown Phoenix on the horizon. The air was swollen, red with the heat of anarchy. I stared, absently wondering if my house in Toledo was okay.

Can someone fucking shoot me?

Hang on, Zep.

You know this guy?

Sure. This is Zeppelin. My friend.

I can’t believe this.

Terry I thought you said he’d—


This is so fucked.

My plan included asking Zeppelin why he wanted to die this way, when there were other, less gruesome alternatives, but he lunged at me before I could. We struggled, punched, and tripped over each other, and somehow the gun leaped from our hands and hid in the dirt.

After a while my mouth tasted like metal. When we got to our feet I had the gun again and the kid—Zeppelin—was yelling, saying I was crazy, that I’d bitten his knuckle.

I wasn’t angry. It was too late for that.

We stood there, and for several minutes quietly watched the meteors cross the sky. With the gun I followed them down and gave the last bullets to them.

And then we prayed.


Jon Mcgill lives in Omaha and works evenings at a local hospital where he is sometimes called upon to clean blood off the floor. Occasionally he makes up wild encounters, writes about them, and tries to sell them for money.


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