Raymond stretched his thumb and forefinger as far apart as he could.  His other fingers curled tight into his palm like he’d seen the big kids do.  Bang!, he said.  Raymond knew, the way a big person picks up that it’s going to rain simply by stepping outside and sniffing the air, that guns were bad.  He also knew that guns meant honor, respect, women, money.  He saw all this in his father, a man too young for rearing a young son, no time for walks, hand in hand, to share and teach and set paths for the future.

Kenny held us son up, make no mistake.  The child was ignored until he learned it was a son inside her.  He heard the legacy of his name, son, respect.  He’d teach him to hustle.  It was his right as a man to rear a son into his army.  Teach him to bite first and ask questions after.  The mother, a cherished vessel, had since been tossed away into a pile of women too smart, too demanding to scrape out a life from the muddy black waters that permeated everything he knew.

Kenny took him shooting, his son, handed him all that power and sleek metal and asked him to hold still, train his eyes on his target, pull the trigger, fire licking the muzzle.  Bang!

Now, Raymond eyed his work through the opening created by a stretched thumb and forefinger.  He waited, listening for coyotes and phantoms in the distance.  Waited to strike.

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