“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.