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Creative Nonfiction Friendship Funny

{The names of the guilty have been changed to protect them from the innocent.}


Brandon Lee was dead. An accident they said. Having been around guns since I was old enough to point my finger and say POW! I wasn't sure I believed it. A loaded gun is that, loaded. A live round is an ominous thing to hold. It vibrates with the confined kinetic energy it contains. The graceful flow of the trigger sear releasing the firing pin feels like poetry until the powder ignites. BANG! One has to train themselves not to flinch and pull off target. The best marksmen have nerves like iron and the focus of a peregrine falcon.


The projectile spins from the barrel, compressing the air in front of it creating a miniature sonic boom. The round arrives before the report like some sort of sick joke. I felt the powder pulsing out of the cylinder, splattering my bare hand with little hypersonic embers. It was waiting at home for me, resting comfortably in leather, calling to me.


“Hold still.” Delaney's hands were claws, digging into my cheek and brow.


The white base went on my face easily, like finger paint. The brow pencil bit into my tender eye lids.


“Ouch!” She was using too much pressure. She liked inflicting pain and suggested I listen to the depression and cuddle it like I clutched the pillow in my empty bed.


“This was your idea.” She leaned my skull back and forth, squinting at her work. An artists eye is never satisfied.


“You're right.” Dad always told me it's easier to just agree with them. He never told me the words would linger in your thoughts and morph into murderous fantasies. I guess that's why we kept the sickness inside, or flicked psychotropic medication at it.


“Wow, you look just like the Crow if I do say so myself,” she cooed holding up a mirror.


I lowered my brows and clenched my jaw, staring at a dead man. I said I wanted a makeover. Tired of always being the one in street clothes, joking about going as myself, my platonic girl friend Delaney transformed my face into the visage of the latest Hollywood tragedy.


“Are you picking me up later? It's a long drive. I need to go home and get changed.”


“I'll give you a ride. How about seven o'clock.”


“Perfect.” The sun would be down and the campfire at the redneck carnival ball would be blazing.


* * *


Black leather boots are a staple around here. If you don't have a pair of boots, you probably don't have working hands either. My first boots were slip on cowboy boots. They made me wear them one time when I was six. I screamed and kicked. I always wanted to be the Indian. That all changed when I strapped on eight inch lug, Vibram sole work boots. Speedlaces lash the leather to your skin like armor. Having already put on black fatigues and a skin tight long sleeve black t-shirt, the boots had to go on before the double breasted black trench coat.


I looked in the bathroom mirror with a concrete expression. Pulling the snub nose pistol from my trench coat pocket, I pointed it at my face through the mirror. The hammer was down. It didn't matter, it was a double action, one just had to pull the trigger. A sneer tugged at my lip. The bullets were copper washed hollow points, magnums to be exact. It felt better pointing the gun at the mirror. I had cocked it and pointed it at my chest twice, begging God to give me a reason not to do it. A dream of angels put a stop to that. This was different. I was going to fake my death, I just hadn't taken out the killing rounds and replaced them with the blanks. I don't remember how I managed to locate blanks for my revolver.


I had ran down the street to the neighbors when I noticed a black van at my house. The kids up the road were impressed with my transformation. Running back to my door, the trench coat flapping behind me in the waning light, I spooked the interlopers. A CD of Skinny Puppy blasted Too Dark Park from a Sansui sub-woofer and satellite speakers, rattling the windows on my empty living room with grotesque industrial pulses. OhGr's guttural vocals aligned with my darkness. The chaotic sounds blended my entry into a surreal scene; a dead man and music that evoked insanity. My uncle laughed. He laughed at funerals. His jokes were sizzling and pointed, carving away the thin façade of cultural decency. His nephew still gets mocked for being scared that night. We should have all been scared. I was going mad and my suicidal side wanted to recreate the scene in the movie The Crow when Brandon Lee died.


After they left, I pulled the lever under the barrel and dumped the shells out of the cylinder. Not many snubs hold nine rounds. I only had eight blanks. Leave one empty. If there was a voice of sanity in the back of my mind it was drown out by depression and delusions. The honk of a horn caused me to holster the weapon and stash it in my coat.


Delaney gave me a concerned look when I pulled the gun out. Driving around with a pistol, even one loaded with blanks was teetering on the edge of legal.


“What are you going to do with that?”


“Fake my own death.”


“You're nuts.”


“So are you for hanging out with me.”


* * *


The pony keg of Honey Brown Ale is sunk in a bath of ice cubes when we arrive. The fire pit rimmed with large sandstone rocks from the creek cackles and spits embers into the night. Walking into a costume party outside a house trailer near a large body of water is a rural tradition.


“Hey Darth.”


“Brandon, I am your father.”


“You are a couple hundred years late. Besides, I'll be dead soon.”


“I thought you were dead. I saw the news.”


“Look at me. I'm no zombie, a carefully crafted every man maybe, the undead no. Would you mind aiming a pistol at my chest later and pulling the trigger?”


“Geez you crazy fucker, here's a solo cup, get some beer before I break out the Jack Daniels.” With that a five foot seven Sith Lord hands me a red plastic cup and points me to the keg.


Sitting on straw bales and sucking down cup after cup of slightly flat beer is a Midwestern United States staple. Doing it with Darth Vader and an undersized human wookiee is even better. Some male creatures from the countryside grow hair like yards grow grass. Patting the smoldering curls in his fur the wookiee passes me a hog leg joint of home grown weed. I inhale deeply, letting the trees, smoke and earthen smells dance in my lungs like dryads at the maypole.


“You think she's into it?” The bearded creature's brown eyeball is gleaming as we watch a girl dressed like Huck Finn chumming it up with a chunky Elvira.


“Shit no.” I slurp down the last of my ale digging into my sardonic estimation of the pair. “Huck is looking for some sucker to make her car payment and the vampire is tired of her boyfriend with batteries. This ain't going past the hug and slap stage. You mind holding a gun later?” My appeal to the human furby falls on sterile ground.


Pretending to not hear what I said, he gets up, “I'm going to the trailer. Some chick offered to braid my beard and load it up with beads earlier.” He parts with a fake handshake that ends awkwardly. I want to point at him and wink, but the Crow doesn't do that. Stick you with a throwing knife maybe, poke at you with a finger, never.


I am running out of options. If Darth Vader and Chewbacca won't help me fake my death, who's left? The Shaman! The European that wants to be a Native American so bad he tattoos feathers on his arm is my last hope. I find him cornering a blonde haired, blue eyed Amish girl with pigtails. She's not kidding anyone, she's thirty years old and about to be a grandma, but whose counting.


“Hey Toby!” I slap him on the shoulder and wink at his high mileage hussy.


“Dude, I mean Crow dude. Look, I'm kinda busy here.” He pokes his arm out and stops dozen baby lady from slipping out of his snare.


“I need you to shoot me.”


“You know I'm not good at taking photographs.”


“I've got a gun loaded with blanks...” The words are crazy when I say them, the look on his face makes them seem even more insane.


“I'm leaving with Helga bruh. Good luck with that death wish thing.”


And that is how the night ended, the keg floating, my bed empty still. Delaney snickered on the way home. I had an inch of bourbon in the bottom of a lonesome fifth in the cabinet. Getting home, I tapped the bullets out of the revolver into an ashtray cluttered with camel cigarette butts. Waiting to reload, I opted for a orange sherbert push up cone bedazzled in freezer frost.


I guess death would have to wait another day.

May 11, 2022 03:15

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10 comments

20:50 May 13, 2022

The Crow and The Cure are both timeless classics. I kept waiting for him to fake Brandon's death scene only to accidentally replicate it too perfectly. Great descriptors and very well written. Thanks for sharing.

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Kevin Marlow
21:15 May 13, 2022

Thanks for commenting. It's a true story with hyperbole from my last year in college. I'm glad I didn't go through with the shooting part. Even blanks can kill a person if the gun is too close.

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23:08 May 13, 2022

That is crazy. Dude, I can’t even imagine.

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Dm Schwartz
11:48 May 19, 2022

A good story that, in my opinion, suffers from a lack of a clear central conflict / point of tension and meanders a bit too freely. The anti-climax also prevents a satisfying conclusion.

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Kevin Marlow
14:18 May 19, 2022

Thank for taking time to critique. The conflict was all internal, I could have done a better job fleshing out the feelings and reasons for them. As far as the ending goes, this is my first attempt at a nonfiction short story and I was confined by what actually happened.

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Susan Sidell
22:33 May 17, 2022

I read the first 3 paragraphs several times. Your descriptions of the handgun and bullets really wowed me!

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Kevin Marlow
23:16 May 17, 2022

Thanks. I was inspired by the debacle on the Rust movie set. If you have ever seen what even the smallest bullets can do, you would not be mixing live bullets on a set with dummy rounds that look the same.

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Susan Sidell
04:37 May 18, 2022

Wow, I, too, thought about that sad event as I read your story. You conveyed it well

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Eric Falvey
10:20 May 17, 2022

I REALLY loved this piece. It tapped in to a lot of the same types of thoughts I remember having, and so I really connected with it. And the Crow is one of my all time favorite films. great read.

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Kevin Marlow
17:32 May 17, 2022

Thanks. The soundtrack for The Crow was a nice snapshot of 90's music. I think the music led me to the movie.

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