By André


The bus stop shelter protected her from the rain, but not the biting cold. A polar front had moved in overnight, blown down from Canada, catching her off-guard. She had left the house in a hurry, threw on a jacket that hung in her closet, a pair of rainbow-colored knitted gloves, and matching beanie.

A gust blew across the frozen street and crashed into the bus stop shelter, whipping up around her with icy fingers. She recoiled, turning her face away from the biting wind, and pulled the beanie further down over freezing ears, wondering if her body had decided to sacrifice them to conserve heat. Her extremities felt as though they were going offline one by one, like a city-wide blackout. Jumping on the balls of her feet like spring-loaded pogo-sticks, she rattled some life back into her body, warm vapor fogged her glasses, her breathing ragged.

Finally, headlights bounced in the distance, a kaleidoscope of yellows illuminated the raindrops on the outside of the glass shelter, followed by the diesel whine of a bus. She timed her exit, arms wrapped tightly around her, each nestled under an armpit. The bus stopped alongside her with a hiss of compressed air, doors clanked open, a wave of heated air welcomed her. Removing a pamphlet from a pocket, she re-read it for the tenth time as she settled in for the two-hour trip.


She arrived at the gun show early. Car trunks were up, truck tailgates open, men and women of all shapes and sizes offloading hundreds of firearms. She had never seen so many guns, the right of the people to bear arms in a full constitutional swing. She looked around, unsure what to do before admission was allowed, feeling like a lamb among wolves.

“Help you, missy?” said a man dressed like a lumberjack. He wore a plaid bomber jacket and a weathered face with kind eyes.

“Looking to buy a revolver,” she said, then added, “for self-defense.”

“You feel you need the self-defense of a handgun?”

“Second Amendment. The right to lawful self-defense.”

“You old enough to carry?”

“I am.”

“Respectfully, mind if I see ID?”

She extracted her driver’s license, handing it to the lumberjack-looking guy.

He squinted down at the ID. “It’s your 18th birthday today,” he announced. “Well, Happy Birthday!”


“I have a Ruger LCR 357 Magnum; it’s a popular choice for women,” he said, passing her ID back.

“How much is it?”

“$650. You’ll not find it cheaper today. Plus, you save on admission fee.”

“I only got $500 cash.”

He scratched his thick ginger beard, his brow wrinkling in, “I have an S&W 642 Airweight,” he said, “yours for $500. It’s a reliable gun, small and compact.”


“Smith & Wesson. It’s an American firearms manufacturer.”


“$475, and we’re partners.”

“Deal,” she said after some consideration, “but only if you include a box of ammo. A gun without ammo offers no self-defense.”

“You should come work for me. You drive a hard bargain. “Deal, I’m Roger,” and stuck out his hand, the acrid smell of coffee-breath and cigarettes biting her senses.

Poking out a rainbow-colored knitted gloved hand, she shook it firmly.

She startled awake, disoriented, her watch vibrating, consciousness clawing at her. Breathing in deeply, she steeled herself, then rotated out of bed, the only illumination from a full moon beaming through her window.

A throw pillow sat atop her dresser where she had left it the night before. She quietly opened her underwear drawer. Hidden in the back corner, her fingers found the comforting cold hard edges of the gun, the indentations of the cylinder, the smooth, stubby barrel.

Opening the cylinder, she confirmed two of the five chambers had a bullet loaded alongside each other, then clicked it closed.

Her bare feet were silent on the carpeted floor, the door to her parent’s room ajar, as it always was. She eased it silently open, having oiled it the day before, entering the room.

She stood invisible in the dark, waiting for her eyes to adapt to the low light, her father snoring, loud and irregular, drowning out whatever sound her mother made. Finally the gloom receded, revealing her parents in a monochrome hue. Her father lay splayed on his back, his mouth agape, her mom slept on her side, facing away from her husband. She padded forward, then looked down at her father in the gloom.

She carefully lifted the duvet, moving it aside, her father continuing to snore, unaware. He wore briefs, but she was no stranger to the sight. His reddish birthmark, slightly larger than a quarter and shaped like Italy, now concealed, haunted her dreams. She raised the gun, still cold, and stared down the short barrel, the front sight aligning with her father’s open mouth, the sights not wavering. Breathing in, she lowered the gun.

The pillow hung from her left hand. She put the pillow over his groin area in a swift movement, then jammed the revolver deep into the fabric. Her father’s eyes popped open with a grunt.

She pulled the trigger, the recoil light. Then fired again, figuring a bullet for each year. Even with the damping effect of the pillow, the sound was deafening in the small room. Her ears rung, her mother screamed, the acrid bite of propellant enveloped the room. She turned, then walked out of the room; the sound of her parents screaming faded.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“I shot my father,” she said, “in self-defense. He’ll live but will need an EMT.”

“Miss, can I have your name?”

“Faith,” she said.

“Faith, are you still in danger?”

“Not anymore.”