I could smell the acrid residue of gunpowder when I walked in
As alien an environment as the moon or a Klan rally
This was not my world. No tree huggers here unless you count the loggers
wrapped chains around old growth just before they’re severed them from Mother Earth.
This here’s a Browning. Laser scope extra. It kicks a little, but you’ll get the hang of it.

I followed him inside unsure of myself, letting his confidence protect me as it always did.
The Browning was steel grey, bullets new copper gold and it was my first time.
I looked up at my Dad and my eyes must have said it all. He nodded, knowing. Knowing.
Dubuque was a long grey way from the farm where colors popped out at me like birthdays.
My own good, I could hear his unspoken voice say and for the first time – I gripped a gun.

He picked the target. Silhouettes were too close to his fear, so concentric circles stood in.
Standing behind, his arms outstretched to steady my nervousness. His muffled voice filled me.
I clenched my hand around the grip and brass flashes spun in all directions.
I squinted shut to drown out the topsy turvy morality play I now acted in.
The Browning and the bullets. Both were a father’s love.

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