A Shot In The Dark: Kids And Guns


Country roads. Dark tree-lined tunnels.


Telephone poles and mailboxes zipping by. A blur.

Handcuffs swing from spotlight handle. Metal against metal. Tap, tap, tap.

Winding curves. Hit the apexes. Feed the wheel. Don’t cross your hands.

Is it hands at ten and two, or three and six?

Eyes darting from ditch to ditch, watching for deer.

Moonlight behind trees.

Limbs and branches like back-lit gnarled fingers disappearing into a black night sky.

Blue strobe lights transform fog into winking, blinking azure cotton candy.

“Are we close?”

“No, not yet. We was a long ways in the country.”

“Maybe three more miles.”

Radio lights blink in sequence.

Dispatcher speaking in monotone.

Stolen car on interstate.

Disturbance in West End.

Shoplifter at convenience store, Third and Bellview.

More blinking.

“There. Right there. The body’s in the woods to your left.”

“We drug him across the ditch right there.”

“See where them weeds are knocked down?”

Entourage of patrol cars stop.

Guns drawn.


Shiny shoes on dew-dampened grass.

Careful, don’t disturb scene.

Belt leather creaking.

Keys jingle.

Fallen leaves crunch and crackle.

Twigs snap.

“Where’s the body?”

Shrug. “Thought it was here.”

Humidity high.


Vests like dense clay around torso.

Hours pass.

Cadaver dogs.

Noses to ground.


Hundreds of mosquitoes.

Sunlight begins to squeeze through tree canopy.

Translucent yellow wands.

“Over here!”

A boy.

Lying in leaves and pine needles.

Eyes closed, mouth open.

Hands bound in back.

Gray duct tape.

Insects in and out of nose and mouth,

Like cars traveling the 101.

Buzzing flies.

Beetles scurrying and burrowing.

Someone’s son.

A brother.

A grandchild.

Cameras flash.

Measuring. Gathering.

Bullet casing in roadway.


Gansta’ wannabes.


“Didn’t know gun was loaded.”

“Took it from Dad’s nightstand.”

“It was a joke.”


“We didn’t mean to hurt him.”

A joke.

“We just wanted to scare him.”


One dead.

Four in prison.

Life sentences.

A joke.

2 replies
  1. Pat Marinelli
    Pat Marinelli says:

    So sad. For the life of me, I do not understand why kids think this way. Why do they think guns are a joke? Why do they think the gun isn’t loaded? Why do they think its okay to duck tape someone? Why do they NOT THINK at all? Beyond me. I guess I was taught gun safely, not to hurt someone else, and what the word consequences means at an early age.

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