Jenni Garber

Hold It

Ben pulls the biggest gun I’ve ever seen out from behind the bed. Hands me the thing. It’s as heavy as a grown man’s leg. Says it’s an AK-47. I think, like the shit people use on TV? But what I say is, you have a license? He laughs. Says, this is America.
He brings out bullets. The size of my fingers. I ask if these were the kind Henry killed John with, but only after John had already shot himself in the gut, but was still breathing and bleeding, so what else was Henry supposed to do?
Ben says don’t be stupid—these couldn’t be the bullets because they’re so big one would have killed John right off, and did you date the Arline brothers, how do you not know about guns?
I ask if he’s seen Henry around lately, but instead he shows me how to hold the gun properly. Without warning he punches the butt of it into my armpit, says, that’s what it’s like when it shoots, that maybe I can come with him and his girlfriend to the range sometime. That it’s not as fun as shooting deer and boar but it’s a place to start.
I ask how his girlfriend feels, living in a house with an AK-47? He walks across the room to the closet. Slides open the door. Exposes what looks like three dozen firearms, saying, these are hers.
One’s made of wood. Ben looks at it, says her family used it in the Civil War. I ask, which side? He asks if I want to hold it.


Jenni Garber completed her MFA at Roosevelt University in Chicago. She has a nonfiction piece at Hobart, and a poem at Unbroken Journal. She lives in Tallahassee, Florida.

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