Every time the calendar hits June...most people think of the end of school...summer vacations...hot weather...and cookouts
I think of those things, too. But one of my first thoughts is about one particular June
June ' 88
It was the last day of school. I was about to complete my sophomore year of high school at Wilson High. It was a typical morning in our house. Everybody was asleep except me and my cousin, Eric. He too was finishing his sophomore year. We had just finished eating breakfast and were about to leave for school. Since it only took us 3 minutes to get to Wilson, we weren't in a rush. I told him that I had to go back upstairs to my room to get a book. I got the book and came back downstairs. When I got downstairs, I saw Eric holding a black gun. I stopped. I said "what are you doing with that?" I knew where he got the gun from.
The gun belonged to my aunt. Apparently, she was cleaning the gun the night before and had left it out. She kept it in a black bag. The bag looked like a small purse. I had seen the bag many times but it was always in her room. That day, the black bag was on the floor in our living room.
Eric was waving the gun and pointing it. He was pointing it like a little kid would point his toy pistol. Then he pointed it at me. I ducked and said...
"Man, don't point that at me!!!"
"Chill man. I took the clip out." he replied
That calmed me for a second. By now, my curiosity was getting the best of me. I wanted the gun.
"Lemme hold it."
He pointed the barrel downward and handed me the gun. I grabbed it and immediately felt empowered. I had never SEEN a gun before and now I was holding it. I found myself doing the same thing that Eric was doing...pointing it like a little kid. I was pointing it at objects in the house and acting as if I was shooting it. While I never intended to point it at Eric, he was in the room with me. Then it happened...
My index finger barely GRAZED the trigger
All I see is fire as the bullet is discharged. It happened so fast that I could believe it. I stood in shock. My mouth was wide open. I look at Eric...and he can't believe that I fired the shot. The bullet missed the tv but went through our living room wall...then through our dining room wall...then through our brick chimney. There was so much smoke that I was coughing. I yell at Eric...
"I thought you said you took the clip out!!!!"
"I did"...he yelled back
We didn't know anything about the bullet in the chamber. By this time, I'm scrambling. I know that I have to hide the gun because my mom, aunt, and uncle will be awake any minute now. I almost put it in my waste band but the barrel was too hot and I couldn't run the risk of shooting myself (even though there were no bullets). I decided to put the gun back in the black bag. By this time, my aunt and my mom run into the room asking what happened. At this time, me and Eric did what any other red blooded American kid would do...
We said the gun "went off" from the bag. Looking back on it, we didn't know how dumb that sounded. The bag was on the floor where my aunt had left it. Logistically, there's no way the gun could have fired high enough to go OVER the tv from the floor. We managed to get out of the house with that lie and head off to school. The plan was to stick with that lie once we got home but we eventually caved in and told the truth. It wasn't like we had any other options.
The punishment was "house arrest". We couldn't talk on the phone nor go outside for the rest of the summer. It was horrible. It was the longest summer of my life. While I can laugh today at firing a loaded gun in my house, the reality is that I could have died that day. I could have killed Eric. The guilt of what COULD have happened that day haunted me for a long time. Honestly, I changed that day. I became a person who cared more about life. My whole outlook changed. I got even more serious about school and my first love (football). On a day that I could have died...I was reborn. Simple put...it was the gunshot that changed my life.