Poetry / Poets / Writers / Writing

Story by Jerry Durick

I tell it more often now. It’s like
anything about back then: it begins
a bit vague but becomes real again
in the retelling. It’s my bit about
how close violence can be – it’s
around us like this, nearby, ready
to reach out and make us part
of itself.

I was twelve, or thirteen, and I still
lived in that big house and my family
was still whole. The shape of my life,
the cut and form of my days, was clear
and comfortable. Well, I was walking
across the side yard. It was the end of
the day – it was getting dark. This yard
was big enough for whiffle-ball and
touch football, big enough to be a center
of much of my life back then. I was half
way across when it happened: a bullet
went by my face. It was something I heard
and felt at the same time. Bullets were
things I had only imagined in endless
games, at endless movies, but I knew it
as it happened. A bullet when it misses,
like this, is a bee, a fraction of a fraction,
a second divided by a blink. It doesn’t
have a taste or smell. It touches only
in an absence, a ripple in the air as it
passes. Its sound is familiar enough to
blend into the moment, unsettling but
quickly gone. I was walking home, I
was almost there, and someone had shot
at me, had shot at me and missed.

It didn’t end there, a mystery to tell
as if the random nature of violence
was my point, but I could see who
had shot at me, who had changed
my sense of certainty about things.
I was a few feet from the backdoor,
a few feet from my kitchen and supper,
and there he was lying on a lawn
across the way in the prone sniper
position, a position we had learned from
our toy soldiers, and he was there
shooting at me, as if I were an enemy.

Now I can admit that when he saw
that I saw him he waved, and I knew
who it was and knew that if he wanted
to shoot me he could have. There’s some
grace in that discovery, the grace of,
at least, knowing what had happened
and who had done it. Years later he killed
a few people – but never with a rifle and
never from that distance.

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3 thoughts on “Story by Jerry Durick

  1. J. K. Durick is presently a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent works appeared in Ascent Aspirations, Big River Poetry Review, and Exercise Bowler.

  2. “I still
    lived in that big house and my family
    was still whole. The shape of my life,
    the cut and form of my days, was clear
    and comfortable.”

    Captivating from the first moment. lovely read.

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