After my father’s third wife left him, he tacked up a paper target onto the center of the cathode ray credenza and pegged a picture of my latest step-mother over it. He towed the fridge into the sitting room, packed with Pabst. Beside it was a cinder block-sized container of BB pellets for his pump action rifle.

From an inflatable arm chair he took aim and shucked beers until the picture was pulp and the vacant cans were an avant-garde sculpture. I came out of my room to use the bathroom when an errant BB whanged off the television’s curved glass, struck me in my solar-plexus and fell harmlessly to the floor.

I never told anyone, but for a while I thought I was bulletproof. My father wasn’t. He let things get to him too easily. But genetic inheritance is hard to hide. Hollow-points ricocheted off Superman’s pupils. Lois Lane’s devotion never wavered. My action figurine bulged with immutable, plastic muscles.

Decades later, when my fiancée broke up with me, I thought about my father, dead from a discharge through his ear lobe more potent than a BB. If I pinched the same trigger he had, would the bullet still bounce off?


Brandon Hartman

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