Happiness is a Warm Gun

Allison and I have been scoring drugs and crashing in rich California homes while the owners are out of the country on vacation or business. Not too long ago, we resolved to quit this life before we turn thirty which means I have less than a year to go, but for tonight, we’re in the nicest place we’ve ever been.

She dances around the house, gathering spoons, lighters, candles, and guns from drawers or closets, tossing pillows and blankets into the air like it’s clown-sized confetti, gaining unstoppable momentum until the force of her whirlwind brings everything together on the floor of the main living room with three stucco walls, a twenty foot ceiling, and an entirely glass fourth wall with a You Got To Be Kidding Me view of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Propped on a pile of pillows, she slightly leans toward me, her forever uncombed hair revealing just a bit of her vampire-pale face. Her painted black eyes grab hold of me as she says let’s fix. Can we do that now, please, honey?

We can.

We aren’t running away—we’re in search of feeling. This morning, I saw her skin starting to rot, but I didn’t say a thing. We want to be children again. We want time to reverse. We try our veins. She wants to be six or seven again. I want to get fetal. My back curves hard against the floor, but I can’t feel it. Until I’m numb, I can’t feel a thing.

And there we go. Now we’re in business. Now we’re on vacation. I see her hands grow smaller. She is young again. I want to squeeze her little-kid-face, but I can’t reach her. She’s leaving me behind.

Hey, you look like my little sister used to, I say.

She starts to cry and I can’t tell if she thinks I’m lying or is she crying because she knows I’m telling the truth.

You were such a cute little kid, I say. I pull my knees to my chest, but something’s wrong with me. I don’t want forgiveness—I want to be innocent. I want to pull comfort from my knees, but my legs are too long, my gut is too weak, and I unwrap.

Allie isn’t running away. Behind her long black hair, I see innocence. Someone should take a picture. I want her to be remembered this way forever.

I wish she’d stop looking at me, but her eyes won’t let me go. I’d tell her a bedtime story, but I can’t remember any, and I’m getting cold. I want to cut off my knees. I want to fit under cover. I want to be small like her.

Allie watches me struggle. From under the blanket, she retrieves a shotgun and stands it upright with her tiny-kid fingers. She and the gun are too serious. She stares at me like the gun has either asked a question or it has answered one, and she doesn’t care which it is. Ambivalence makes the picture more honest.

You can do it, I say, you can do anything you set your mind to, and in my mind, the gun is already aimed at me.

I know, she says, unafraid. I’ll do it when the time is right.




(First appeared in Red Savina Review)