DRY FIRE • by Andrew Boden

“Jess, take ’im out.”

If Jesse pulled the trigger, his dad would know. He’d hear the loud click and the buck would bolt and his dad would snatch the .30.30 from his hands and hiss, “Why didn’t you load it?”

“Exhale and squeeze. Slowly. That’s it.”

Click. Jesse wouldn’t need to explain the bullets he’d abandoned in the glove box. His pale, sick look would give him away. For the three-hour snowshoe back to the truck, he’d watch his dad’s red mackinaw recede over horizons. “In our family, Jesse, sons who can’t kill for food make clothes with their mothers.”

At the hunting lodge they’d face his dad’s friends beaming over their twelve-year-old sons as they packed in their first deer or elk, the parts wrapped in clear plastic. “Jess miss again, Frank?”

His dad would muffle the echo-click of Jesse’s empty Winchester with an unnatural laugh. “Almost got a white tail buck, six points to the rack. Dry fire, that’s all. Bad shell. We’ll get one tomorrow. Right, Jess?”

Click. Click today and the next day and all the days to come. Click, click, click. The click of his mother’s loom as Jesse, his hand in hers, slid the shuttle across the blue-checkered cloth. The click of his dad’s tongue in disgust.

“Son, what are you waiting for? Shoot.”


Two essays by Andrew Boden will be appearing this fall in Descant and the anthology Nobody’s Father: Life Without Kids (Touchwood Editions). Boden has recently finished his first novel, for which he plans to reward himself by writing another. He lives and works in Burnaby, British Columbia.


Rate this story:
 average 4 stars • 2 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Loved that title, Andrew. It carries so much weight. Loved the story, too. Clean and crisp and laying down its own emotional weight for us to test. Five stars.

  • Oscar Windsor-Smith

    I liked this story a lot; similarly the title, as K.C. has said. The only part I have trouble with – and you must clearly have intended the ambiguity – is that last line. If it flashes back to the earlier hunting scene, why? What does it add? If it is foreshadowing Jesse threatening or possibly killing his father with a gun, that does seem extreme, and out of character from what we have been told. Only a minor point. Great story, nonetheless. Thanks, Andrew.

    🙂 scar

  • Fabulous. I too question the last line – unless I’ve missed something. ‘disgust’ seems the perfect word to end on. I gave it 5.

  • Great little flash piece–loved it!

    –dj

  • Jen

    This was a nice story. Poor Jess, I can see why he’d rather be with his mother than his father.

  • Wow. That’s pretty familiar. Nice one.

  • The click of his father’s son sounds like a gun to me. Ouch. Great writing, very effective. Made me think of Benjamin Percy’s hunting stories.

  • Short and full of emotion. Great piece.

  • Gerard Demayne

    Liked that. Though I agree with Oscar about the last line.

  • Oscar: what I came away with was that everything between the father’s second quote and his last quote was running through Jesse’s mind. I thought the last line was perfect.

  • MG Ellington

    This hits close to home. Thanks for that. Bold move writing this. I loved the setup. Great job.

  • Oscar Windsor-Smith

    Thanks, K.C., you are absolutely right. Now I see it. Apologies, Andrew, for missing that. BTW, Now I can also see, K.C., why you are a rich and famous writer, and I shall never be so.

    😉 scar

  • I liked the brevity of your piece. It felt like each word was carefully chosen. Unlike a few of the other comentors, I really liked the last line. It puts you right back in the scene after the flashback and has a big impact.

  • Edward Caputo

    After re-reading, I agree with those that prefer the last line — but was with those who thought it was extraneous at first. I think there’s something that needs tweaked in between to make it clear that we remain in flashback (the first paragraph makes it clear, but somewhere along the way that fact gets blurry). If it were hammered home (sorry couldn’t resist the pun) that we are in an extended moment of thought between lines of dialogue then it work even better. As it is, it’s still a very good story.

  • Andrew Boden

    Hello everyone,

    I’d like to thank you all for your kind and thoughtful comments. It’s not very often that I’ve had the privilege of receiving immediate feedback on my work. Usually weeks or months pass before I hear anything from an editor or publisher or even a reader.

    My thanks to the editors at Every Day Fiction for the interactive format they’ve created here: it’s a great way to see how my work is received. And my thanks again to Every Day Fiction’s readers!

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