Osama Bin Laden has been dead for a month or so now. In consideration of the immanent cataclysm--Muslims, Illegals, and the President of the United States--my dad has cast me as survivalist. He is convinced of the end times. End of days. My mailbox at college, I find stuffed with gear: a canteen, band aids, a lighter that growls like a soldering torch, an all-in-one tool: knife, saw, pliers, toothpick. In June, when I come home, my dad has gotten me a gun. He insists I contemplate: If the world ends tomorrow, what would I do?
My dad is an upholsterer. He had a shop in Wheat Ridge but now works out of the garage. He wanted me to help with the shop, but I opted for school, History in particular. I told him it’s almost the same. I put a smile on a skeleton, he puts fabric on a frame. All right, I never told him that. I might. No.
My dad has a collection. Collector’s items. They are Osama Bin Laden printed on poster-stock, life-size printouts of Osama Bin Laden threatening with an AK. There are bull’s-eyes on his head, on his heart, and zeroed in on his balls—albeit much smaller, to insinuate he is, or was, poorly equipped. People appreciate rarity. The targets are a limited edition. It is pleasant to have a clear view of the enemy, when there’s a bull’s-eye snaring their vital organs. When the target is the epitome of evil. It is good to be sure.
Since it is my first time shooting, my father insists on ceremony. Careful, he uncoils a target from the tube. These are the places where the target will die, my dad explains. There are some targets you just can’t bargain with. Each target has its bullet: soft, hallow-point, full metal jacket. Each gun has its purpose: short range, long distance, maximum destruction. The target decides.
I pull quick-draws with the .38. Not in the house, my dad tells me, you are not John Wayne to be shooting from the hip. This is not the movies. Secretly, I doubt his knowledge and expertise, his newfound obsession. What does he know?
Osama Bin Laden is bearded and wears a turban. My dad hands me the bullets. I joke, We should soak the bullets in pigs blood. He considers. We’re off to Longmont, to the shooting park. At the supermarket, we stop for sandwiches. He tells me to ask for blood. They don’t carry blood. He knows of a farm on the way, there are pigs. The farmer can’t figure why he never thought of that. It was my son’s idea, my dad says, pigs blood. He slaps me on the back, squeezes my shoulder. All the blood we could want. Seventy-two virgins, I joked. I couldn’t believe it.
I fish out the bullets with the pliers of my all-in-one tool. You can wash it when we get home, my dad says. The bullets dry on a rock set out in the sun. You can’t see the sky for the clouds. The back stops are lined up against a naked bluff. We have a whole gallery to ourselves. It’s a Tuesday morning.
The gunfire report halts from the adjoining gallery to the east. A man there from asks about the bullets. He is older than my dad, bald, and his teeth need work. He compliments my dad. Even though the blood might gunk up the works, it’ll be worth it. They talk about their lives. They did the best they could with what they had to work with. An M16 dangles from our neighbor’s shoulder. He wants to see this.
The dried blood peels off when loaded. I am sure to scrape out the excess. It comes off like a papery scab.
My dad staples the target to the back stop, Bin Laden threatening with an AK. We get up real close. Aim your gun at the ground till your ready to shoot. Hold it like this. Our neighbor stands by my dad. He wants his chance too.
My dad guides me, this is how you shoot. I unleash. It jerks when I pull it up. Rapid fire, my dad yells. I have unloaded by the time his voice falls. My shot pattern trails off below the target, to the right, blemishing Bin Laden’s gown. The holes are pink rimmed. Our neighbor scoots over and perforates Bin Laden’s chest in a pattern like a golf cup. Get some. Get some.
I notice the blood only when we move to gather the shell casings (my dad recycles). It doesn’t gush like you would think. The pain shoots and the blood scrolls down my leg. Our neighbor says it was a shot from the hip. My father looks at me. These men are survivalists. In a moment, the wound is dressed with my shirt. We’re off. I enter shirtless into the Lafayette ER.
My father tells the doctor about the pig’s blood, but he doesn’t share my father’s enthusiasm. He tells the doctor it was my idea. The doctor says I am lucky, a clean wound. Someone else (a doctor?) staples it shut. They assure us, Don’t worry. The blood was dry. Right? In any case, we’ll keep an eye out for infection. They assure us not to worry.
You’ll be all right, my father says. Some other time, we’ll go.
I don’t tell my father, but I doubt the doctor’s knowledge and expertise. I feel the muscle swell, the trichinosis burrowing up my crotch.