BY JAKE MACMILLAN
My buddy Morris and I grabbed the new .22 from his shed in the backyard before school this morning for a little target practice. We waited for our parents to leave for work then met up at his house, which was a few houses down from mine. He had a big stupid smile on his face holding a shiny silver key that opened the shed out back.
“We have to do this quick, man. I have a test this morning and I can't miss it,” I told him.
“Don't worry about it Tom, I only have five shots anyway,” he replied.
We opened the tin shed and took the gun case out, laying it on the lawn. Morris then jammed the key into the lock and popped open the lid. I watched his face light up at the sight of it.
“Beauty, isn't it?” he said.
It really was nice. A single-shot .22 bolt-action rifle with a fancy semi-glossy finish. Morris lifted it out of its case and threw it on his back with the sling. Then we made our way over his picket fence and into the forest that bordered his backyard. We followed a path for about one hundred metres into the forest then halted, deciding that we were far enough from any nearby houses or people for that matter.
“You want the first shot?” asked Morris.
“No you take it,” I replied.
Morris proceeded to push a cartridge into the barrel and snapped the bolt forward and down. Then we waited. Suddenly, a big red-chested robin swooped down from above and landed on a branch not fifteen feet from us. Morris aimed the rifle straight at the bird, rolled of the safety and fired. The crack of the gun startled me and I opened my eyes to see the bird fluttering onto the ground. We erupted in laughter while the birds' movement finally came to a stop. Morris handed me the gun, a big grin on his face.
I had never fired a gun before, but this rifle didn't look very intimidating. I grabbed it from his hands confidently and he passed me a cartridge. I popped the bolt up and drew it back, letting the empty shell jump onto the ground. I had watched Morris carefully and was able to load the gun with ease.
He tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a squirrel skittering across a fallen log. I raised the gun, rolled off the safety and fired. Click.
“Pull it again,” Morris whispered.
Click. The gun didn't fire once more.
“Is your safety off?” he asked.
“Yeah, it just isn't firing,” I responded.
"Well it's probably just a misfire, keep it pointed down,” Morris told me.
Without warning a voice boomed out from my right.
“Hey! What do you kids think you're doing!”
I whipped around to see who had called out, and I rolled my ankle on a rock in the process. I was sent tumbling down in the dirt. The gun flew out of my hands and fell on a nearby log. Then all of a sudden the gun fired, and I heard a cry. I could hardly force myself to look up. I knew what had just happened. I glanced up to see a man laid out in a bush, a bullet hole through his chest.
“Oh shit,” exclaimed Morris.
I sat there like a statue, with my mouth wide open. Morris ran over to the man, who was still breathing. Right in the middle of his chest, a pool of blood started to ooze out through his white t-shirt, and I knew that he wasn't going to last much longer.
“Get over here quick Tom; we'll carry him back to my place!” Morris screamed.
I stood up in a daze, and my legs nearly gave out at the sight of blood pouring down his shirt. He was an older guy maybe mid-forties or in his fifties, but tears welled up in his eyes. I scooped up his legs while Morris took hold of his upper-body and we lifted him off the ground.
“You shot me, you bastard, you shot me,” the man sobbed.
“I'm sorry, I'm so sorry; it was an accident,” I replied with a whimper. Tears were now pouring down my face and I couldn't bear to look at him any longer, now that blood had drenched his shirt.
We managed to carry him through the woods and back into Morris' backyard, where we laid him down. Morris ran inside to call emergency while I waited outside with the man. I knew he wasn't going to make it; his eyes were closed now and he breathed in short, quick breaths. Tears continued to stream down my face as I attempted to get him to stay awake.
“You shot me, you shot me,” the man repeated.
I listened for the approaching sirens while Morris joined me at the man's side with a towel pressed against the open wound. The man wasn't breathing now, and I knew he was dead. I waited for what seemed like an hour, sobbing at the man's side. Eventually, the ambulance arrived, but there was no point. The man had passed away, and I had killed him.