How to (almost) Kill Your Brother



When I was 14 I almost killed my brother. Don’t judge me, it was an accident. Then again, if you’re an idiot, can you really call it an accident?

I was bored. The temperature was in triple digits and I refused to suffer the heat of the blacktop at the park a block away from my house. Playing basketball alone in the backyard wasn’t appealing either. The computer crashed a few days before and I was twiddling my thumbs to keep busy. It was the worst summer vacation in Chicago yet. I was too young and too broke to create a good time so I spent a good half of the summer wishing school was in session. On that day, when the idleness of my vacation came to a head, I was going through the kitchen cabinets, looking for liquor or some kind of intoxicant to pass the time. I’d recently taken my first puff of a joint and had my first taste of alcohol in sixth grade (in my middle school lunchroom) and realized it wouldn’t kill me, so I thought I could handle them together. I didn’t find either. I did stumble upon my father’s sawed off shotgun.

It wasn’t easy to find. My younger brothers and sisters would have needed an outdoor ladder to reach to the shelf where it lay. After rummaging through all of the cabinets in the kitchen, I slid my fingers atop the dirty shelf until they touched the hard wood handle on the weapon. I fingered the machine for a second longer then grabbed it down when I realized it was a gun.

At first I didn’t know what to make of it. The handle was covered with scraggly tape and chipped in places it was not covered. The nose was short and I didn’t notice it was sawed off until I looked down the barrel of the gun and noticed the bullets were sitting near the front, dead center of my eyes.

I was cautious, but I didn’t put it down. Rather than back away from the terrible discovery, I walked into the living room to show my brother Chris, who was sitting in front of the open window, trying to catch wind gusts that never came. I shouted his name, giddy with the toy in my hand, and before I could tell him of the surprise, the shotgun went off and the shell ejected and hit the ground. My mind has never blanked so fast. Time froze for a second while I gathered my thoughts. The ox shot caliber bullet, blasted into the hardwood floor, making a visible hole into the basement. My brother avoided a near fatal mistake by less than a foot.

Chris has always been a pretty laid back guy. I’ve never scene him hop to his feet and yell as many non sequential expletives as he did that day. I’ve always been a pretty lucky guy. I’ve never been as lucky as I was that day.


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