I didn’t even shoot Cousin Jeremy with a real BB because they were banned in our house because my brother kept shooting things he wasn’t supposed to, like me or our other brother who now had a BB permanently sticking in his lip. Of course, Cousin Jeremy wanted revenge against me for shooting him, but he wasn’t quick enough, because he ate too much and watched too much tv while sitting in his underwear on the couch all day, every day for the entire summer. Cousin Jeremy was always eating, from the moment he woke up until right before he went to bed. He ate gross stuff too, like spaghetti and cake for breakfast. I wished he would just go back home, but he didn’t have a home no more. I’d tell you why but we weren’t supposed to talk about how Uncle Larry was no good and drinking all the time and how he didn’t even buy a tombstone for Aunt Mary. I was mad because there was this big fat kid on our couch twenty-four hours a day, and we couldn’t even say why. We were just supposed to say he was visiting. We couldn’t even say why Mom had to take the cushions off the couch and dry them in the sun every day because Cousin Jeremy peed on them every night. He wasn’t allowed to drink any liquids after eight at night, but when that didn’t work, Mom banned him from drinking after seven, then six, then five, and when that didn’t work, Mom tried waking him up during the night to pee, but when didn’t work neither, we got the neighbor lady who cleaned up shit in that old folks home to bring us these big plastic sheets that zipped up around the sofa cushions, which was stupid anyway because the cushions already stank like pee. I didn’t even like to sit on that couch no more. The plastic sheet crinkled when you sat down, and it sounded gross. One time, I had a bowl of ice cream, and I sat down and that sound just turned my stomach so much that I had to give mine to Cousin Jeremy, who then had two bowls, which he ate before anyone was even done with their one bowl. One time, Mom told me to wake up Cousin Jeremy and make him go pee early in the morning as I was going out to get in some good fishing before it got too hot, and when he got up, there was a puddle of pee in the dent his fat ass made in the couch. It was gross. Mom wouldn’t even let us swim to the public pool in town, because she said everyone peed in it, which didn’t make sense because we weren’t supposed to swim in the lake right outside our front door because everyone’s septic tanks was leaking into the water so much that the water gave us gross ear and eye infections when we swam in it or even floated on inner tubes. We went swimming anyway when Mom was at work, but if we got caught, we got punished. Mom called us disgusting for wanting to swim in shit, but then Mom let that fat ass Cousin Jeremy pee all over our couch. I just couldn’t understand it. She even made our dog Puddles sleep in the shed, because he peed in our house once when he was a puppy on the first day we got him, and that was how he got his name, because he made a little pee puddle on our kitchen floor, and then he got named Puddles and was forever banished all at the same moment. And it wasn’t even a lot of pee, just a little puppy puddle no bigger than a wad of spit. I just couldn’t understand why my Mom let Cousin Jeremy piss all over every goddamn thing. I used to like to watch tv before his fat ass showed up.
The day I shot him, Cousin Jeremy came out on the back porch to get my brother’s action figures to keep him company on the couch while he watched tv and ate all our food all goddamn day long. The sight of his big flab in those dirty, pee-stained yellow, what used to be white, underwear made me angry for some reason, so I shot him. I was out there pumping up the BB gun six or seven times and dry firing little puffs of air at the back ends of ants and sending them flying. It was really hard to pump the BB gun because I was still pretty little for my age. The first two or three times, I could get the pumper down, but then after that, I’d have to put the stock on the ground and the barrel in the air and then kind of lean down to get the pumper down. I liked that gun being all pumped up with air and ready to explode. It just felt good in my hands. So anyway, Jeremy came outside and was leaning his belly over the toy box. This wasn’t a fancy toy box at all, but rather just some plywood nailed together to make a big crate outside our backdoor. The sides were pretty big and he had to leaned way over. And the sight of his big flabby ass made me angry for some reason, so I picked up a little stone and put it in the barrel and shot him right in the asshole. I didn’t mean to shoot him at all, because I couldn’t imagine that the pebble would fit in the barrel for one thing, and for another, BB guns weren’t supposed to shoot rocks. But it did. It really did. At first when Cousin Jeremy was jumping around, I kind of laughed, because I didn’t expected the gun to shoot at all. I didn’t get scared when he was dancing around and yelling, because my brothers shot me up with that very same BB gun a lot of times. I never got shot in the bare flesh, because they knew better than that after Mike got shot in the lip and all, but it sure did hurt when you got shot through your clothes. It stung a lot and left a red welt, but that was it. I thought shooting Cousin Jeremy was kind of funny to be perfectly honest. I was also very proud of myself for being ingenious enough to put a little rock in the BB gun too. Then I saw the big red spot of blood blooming through his underpants as if a big dark red rose suddenly got painted there. Then I took off running and hid the BB gun in the coal shed and got my fishing pole and just went away for the afternoon. When Mom came home from work at three, I could hear her and my brothers and sisters yelling for me. Then I saw my brothers coming down to the lillypads where I liked to fish for bass, but by that time, I was down where the lake fills up from the creek, which was where I liked to fish for sucker fish. I knew I had to go home sometime, but I put it off as long as I could, till the fancy people walked their dogs around the lake in the evening on the fancy path they collected money from the other summer people to build. When it got really dark and the bears came to root through garbage cans at the volunteer fire house, I knew I had to go home and get what was coming to me, which I knew would be bad, because Mom hated it when I fished, and she never ever wanted me to shoot guns neither. When I begged to go along hunting with Dad and my brothers, she always told me no, even if they said yes. I couldn’t hunt no way, because everyone knew it was the law that you couldn’t hunt until you were twelve. When I asked to go along hunting, Mom would call me a lezzy, which really hurt my feelings, and then I’d stay in my room all day or walk through the woods to grandma and grandpa’s house and eat their stale cookies they always had in that stupid big heavy pumpkin-shaped jar on their table. Their cookies went stale by getting soggy not by getting hard, which was how cookies got stale in our house. But I’d eat a few of them and look at all the taxidermied bass on the walls of their house inside, then I’d go outside and look at all the deer horns nailed up out there. About three years ago, grandma had a picture of herself in the paper standing beside the deer she killed, which was hanging upside down in their yard. Grandma was on the front page wearing her red and black checked coat and her red hat and the deer’s eyes were red too. All the neighbors cut Grandma’s picture out of the paper and hung it on their fridges, because people from around here rarely made the paper except for high school football scores and shit like that. Everybody cut it out except Mom, who said it was embarrassing and just plain gross for a woman to hunt or fish, which hurt my feeling, because I really liked fishing, and I always thought I’d like hunting too.
I never went over to grandma and grandpa’s house to visit visit them or even look at all the taxidermied fish, I went to steal corncob pipes which grandpa made to sell at the flea market every Sunday for one dollar each. I’d go say hi to him whittling in the yard. He hardly ever talked, and when he did, he called me Mountain Man, which was what he called all his grandkids. Sometimes he called me Mitch, which was my oldest brother who was in the army and hadn’t been home in a year. I liked when he called me Mountain Man, and I didn’t even mind when he called me Mitch. I liked it because if I ever got caught stealing a corncob pipe when he went to the outhouse to piss out the warm Old Milwaukee beer he drank all the time, he’d blame Mitch, and then everyone would think he was crazy, because Mitch was oversees somewhere. I’d steal a pipe and then run into the woods and smoke dried leaves until Dad and my brothers came back home with all their kills. I liked petting all the pretty dead pheasants and the furry cold stiff squirrels. When Mitch was home I’d get to pet dead grouse and quail, because he was the only one who could hit them. Or he was the only one who’d go into the brush to find them, I guess. My other brothers mainly liked to shoot rabbits and deer in the cornfields around our house. Shit, you could throw rocks at bunnies and kill them they’re so easy to sneak up on. And deer just walk right up to you pretty much. Mitch hated the way my two other brothers hunted, which was to wait until sundown or maybe a cold rainy afternoon, and then just walk over to the field across the road and shoot a deer. Mitch always climbed a tree a mile into the woods and then he shot them with arrows. Mitch thought it was a pretty shitty thing to shoot a deer in the cornfield across the street. I liked the way all my brother’s hunted because I liked deer meat. I liked deer meat and eggs the best. I liked even liked deer chili and deer spaghetti sauce. Everybody else liked deer baloney but I didn’t because it got slimy real fast. We all teased Mitch and called him the Noble Hunter and Mountain Man. But it was true that no one else in the family could even get close to wild turkey except for Mitch. My other brothers took their dead deers to Adam’s Meat Market where you got a free beer and a cheeseburger for bringing in a deer. If you gave the butcher a lot of the meat, he’d cut up the deer and make sausage and baloney for free. Mitch butchered his deer himself in the yard with a hacksaw and his razor sharp buck knife. At first it was kind of gross to see him saw off a deer’s head, but then I got used to it, and then I got to hold the horns while he sawed. The worst part was when the deer head was hanging by one strand of stringy something or another. Mitch wouldn’t eat anything from Adam’s Meat Market because he said Adam mixed a little deer meat with a lot of pork fat, which was true, because all that deer sausage was greasy as hell, then Adam would steal most of the deer meat for his own use to sell at the fancy farmer’s markets he drove to in the city every week. .
So I went home as late as I could after I shot Cousin Jeremy. Mom forbidded me to touch guns or fishing rods ever again, and then she called me a lezzy, which made me cry. She said I liked to kiss girls, which was a total lie, because I thought most girls were very stupid, if you asked me. Mom said no one invited me to slumber parties because I was a gross girl who fished and shot guns and stank bad because I always wore the same red sweat pants everyday. Then she asked me if I wanted to grow up to be a homicidal killer. When I said, no, she then called me sick. That’s what she said — “You’re sick!” Mom got so mad that hit me a few times and grabbed my hair and beat me against the door frame until she started crying. Sometimes Mom made Dad beat me, but since he started driving truck he was never home no more, which was fine by me. Mom said I’d get punished good when he got back, which would be in like a month or something, so I didn’t care too much about that. He’d just take the BB gun away from me the way he took it away from each of my brothers when they shot something they weren’t supposed to, like me or other kids or momma birds that had babies up in the trees.
I cried a lot and screamed that I hated her or Cousin Jeremy or everyone. I don’t remembered what I yelled when I get mad like that. Then my sisters played hospital and bandaged me up by tying rags around my head to hold the ice on, and they tied popsicle sticks to all my fingers like splints and wrapped toilet paper around my legs. They put tin foil around my teeth. I guess they thought they might as well fix my buckteeth while they were at it. I slept like that, perfectly still, because my jaw throbbed from being beat and the back of my head was completely numb from being beat against the wall. I stayed in bed while Mom yelled at Cousin Jeremy for peeing on the couch again. I stayed in bed until Mom went to work. I stayed in bed while my sisters got on their bikes to ride down to the horse farm to flirt with the boys there. Sometimes, they hitched a ride to the Indian Gap Army Base down the road to flirt with the soldiers there, but if they got caught Mom beat them and called them whores, because Mom’s sister got pregnant by an Army man, which was how Cousin Sunny got to be around. I stayed in bed while my other brothers fired up the car to go do who knew what. I stayed in bed until there was nobody home but fat ass Cousin Jeremy. Then I went and got my Dad’s .22 rifle behind his bedroom door. I pulled the bolt back like I had a bullet in it and pointed it right at fat ass Cousin Jeremy on the couch until he screamed, then I left the house without saying one goddamn word. Because of gun safety, Dad kept his ammo locked up all the time, but in the green truck there was a box of .22’s under the seat everyone forgot about. I filled both pockets of my red sweat pants with bullets and just started walking around the lake. I heard some people laughing at me because my head was all wrapped up in toilet paper and there was tin foil on my teeth. I kept the bandages on because my face was all swolled up and green with bruises. I walked to where the stream flows out of the lake. We were not supposed to go there because copperhead snakes hung out all over there. I got through the snakey part alright, only seeing a few hanging in the tree branches and a few more on the rocks. I didn’t mind the snakes by the stream too much, but I hated seeing snakes in the lake when you were swimming and they’d swim fast at you like some slimy alien. I walked right along that stream and into the thick brush where you weren’t supposed to go, because it was Boy Scout Land, and they prosecuted any of the locals from going into their woods and their lake area and their their their their there. I hated them, because they had this nice lake in there that no one ever fished and the bass in there were really big. I hated them because they had all these retarded city boys come and stay in fancy cabins and run around our woods in their queer ass uniforms. I sneaked up on them a few times before that and watched them canoe and play their gay games and shit.
I can’t really put what happened all together, but it was kind of like shooting Cousin Jeremy in the asshole. I mean, I know I loaded up the clip and put in it in the gun. I know I pulled back the bolt and loaded a bullet into the chamber. I know I aimed across the lake and right into that crowd of faggoty ass boy scouts marching around like sissy-ass faggots. I know I shot, pulled back the bolt, loaded another bullet, and shot again. Then I followed the streambed back out. When I got to the road by our lake, I started limping for some unknown reason. I imagined myself to be like one of those Revolutionary War soldiers. I don’t know why I imagined that, because a couple times a year crazy people came out here to do Civil War re-enactments. But I thought of myself having that banged up guy beside me playing a drum and another banged up guy on the other side of me tooting on that flute or whatever. I whistled and limped home.
I put the gun back and was sitting in the front yard by the plastic pee sheet drying in the sun when the cop car came up. The police were stopping folks and asking them stuff, but they didn’t ask me nothing. I had my head all bandaged up with toilet paper and my teeth in all wrapped up in tin foil, and I was smoking my corn cob pipe full of dried leaves, and they didn’t ask me shit. But I guess the neighbors down the road said they saw me with a rifle that afternoon. So when the cops came to talk to me, I said that I was just getting Dad’s rifle back from Cousin Jeremy who had stold it and went into the woods. I said that I didn’t shoot guns at all or even know how to, because I was a little girl, and I guess they believed me. The cops yanked Cousin Jeremy right off that couch and hauled him away in his pee-stained underwear. Mom said he was sick and that he got put into foster care. I didn’t feel too bad about none of that stuff, because I just nicked one of those faggot ass boy scouts and didn’t kill no one.