Broadside #38 (Spring 2015 / 15.8)
The Gun Show
When the gun goes off, it’s the crash of a subway train. Everything stops.
The demonstration of a flashy knife stops.
The free parking stops.
The law enforcement that have entered for free stop.
The several hundred people who don’t understand how to correctly use an apostrophe stop.
The billion-dollar gun industry stops. (OK, maybe that doesn’t stop at all.)
The mourners for the dead children at the middle school sixteen miles away stop.
The huge-boobed girl selling camping survival gear for low, low prices stops.
The ammunition inventory spreadsheet stops.
The high-end Barrett 50 stops.
The fat men in NASCAR hats stop.
The homemakers who are going to be shot by their husbands in the future stop.
Their children who will commit suicide with the Barrett 50 stop.
The man who was accidently shot in the leg stops.
The shooter who accidentally discharged the gun stops.
And then, in unison, everyone goes back to yukking and haggling and flirting and leaving and entering and walking and touching and estimating and considering and networking and joking and feeling and squinting and gawking and lying and smoking and posing.
Jay Leno said—and I’m probably misquoting a bit—that comedians start off doing one-liners, then they advance from that to discussing their family, and finally at the peak of their career they start tapping into what’s currently happening in the news. I’ve been trying to push myself as a writer to discuss more and more what’s happening in our country that needs to be addressed.
I’ve seen multiple news articles about people being shot by mistake at gun shows, people being shot by mistake at shooting ranges, people being shot by mistake in their homes; the reaction is a blend of sadness and comedy and anger, something so strange about people who get sucked into that billion-dollar industry of making profit off of violence and selling the worst dark aspects of hypermasculinity. “The Gun Show” is an extension of gun-related short fiction I’ve been writing (other of these stories can be found in Prairie Schooner, Bellevue Literary Review, and Moonshot Magazine, to mention a few) in which I’ve been trying to do narratives of warning. I studied with Gregory Orr at the University of Virginia and his revealing to the class that he accidently shot and killed his brother reverberates in me often when I write. This story is dedicated to Gregory Orr. (If you have not read him, do so now. He’s powerful on the page.)
I’m a writer, a creator. Je suis Charlie. I’m seeing more and more that the artist is antithetical to the gun-waving terrorist. Writers will continue to write. I received a death threat once for my novel U.P. I remember talking with Glen Mazzara at the Writers Guild and him telling me of the multiple death threats he’s received from his writing for The Walking Dead and suddenly my sole death threat seemed sadly part of the profession of writer. It sort of freed me up to realize that if you want to be a writer in this day and age of instant technology, internet posts without editing, and mass gun ownership, you have to be brave. It’s that simple. Be brave. Don’t let them silence you. Write. Write, write, write.
I love people who prefer pens to guns.