A Portrait

Something I wrote quite a while ago. Not sure if it feels like a complete story or more of just the beginning.

Sitting the screwdriver down, he carefully pulled on the broke open shotgun and laid the barrel down. Then the screws holding the trigger guard were removed and that was pulled loose. He let his mind wander as he worked. There was something about cleaning a gun that kept your hands busy as your mind went where it would.

He supposed if there was ever anything he had learned from his old man, it was guns. It wasn’t that his father had never tried to teach him anything. It was more that what his father had to teach he wasn’t interested in or just couldn’t seem to learn. A weekend had been spent when he was young with a football but for the life of him that perfect spiralling throw just wouldn’t happen. Baseball? Well he was marginally better there but not enough to be able to compete, even in Little League. And if you couldn’t compete and win, what was the point? Besides, he had never liked team sports or anything else to do with a group of people. If he couldn’t do it on his own he didn’t want to do it.

There were other scattered attempts as he approached his teenage years but they didn’t go far. Even finding the time to be together was a challenge. Some days the only time he saw his father was when the school bus passed his dad driving into work. Neither was an emotional or sharing person so they lived as two people sharing a house.

Ah, but guns. There is nothing like guns to bring a father and son together. A solitary pursuit that two people can share without the need for conversation, what more can anyone ask for? Sitting on the bench side by side, testing new loads, zeroing in the scope on the .22 so it hits the bulls eye just perfect at a hundred yards.

They might not have had the closest relationship in the world but they were father and son and alike in some ways. Both had an affinity for weapons that seemed to go bone deep. Firearms, swords, axes; if it was a weapon they liked it. Of course, like all people they did have their favourites. His dad could take the cheapest knife and put an edge on it you could shave with. He never did quite get the hang of that. Much as he liked knifes, they weren’t his first choice. More then competent with a blade, he could, and had, kill very efficiently with one, but guns were his preference.

He could sit for hours at the range shooting rounds through a rifle and then spend just as much time in his shop breaking down guns, cleaning and rebuilding. The first thing he did with a new firearm was take it apart. And it wasn’t all firearms he liked either. He had only carried one pistol, a Colt 1911 .45. He knew full well there was some fine pistols made since then but in his mind you didn’t bet against John Moses Browning. Glocks were very good weapons but they had all the personality of a Tupperware container.

No, he was really a long gun man, shotgun and rifle. And more then that, he preferred bolt action and single shot. He couldn’t remember the last time he had even picked up a pump action shotgun unless it was doing work for someone else. Shooting was a science and that first shot was all that was needed. Otherwise you were ill prepared for the job.

He sighed, putting down the toothbrush when he realized he had scrubbed the hammer of the shotgun for the sixth time. Eyes wandered over to his laptop, open on another table. A picture filled the screen, e-mailed earlier in the day from his mother. He and his brother hadn’t spoken in years and it had finally taken his father’s funeral to get them together. Not a word spoken since the accident and now the choice was his. What if he no longer knew how to be part of a family? Spinning himself around, he wheeled himself to the door, stomach to insistent to ignore. Did Rob still like shooting, he wondered as he backed his wheelchair into the elevator.

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