My dad got me a sickass water pistol. It’s one of my earlier and most vivid memories to this day, because I was so impressed with the thing I lost my goddamn mind. This wasn’t some chump’s plastic squirt gun, but a powerful, motorized weapon capable of firing a pulse of water that could cut through a sheet of printer paper! That was my first test, and at the time it was tremendously impressive. The thing was orange with black stripes, like a tiger, and would growl when fired. It was heavy. It felt substantial.
It was my first love.
It wasn’t my birthday, or any special day. It was Tiger Pistol Day is what it was. I thanked my father quickly, without looking at him at all, and ran to the door to lace up. I began to plot how I would identify, stalk and destroy my prey. It felt dangerous. I could really hurt somebody, and I probably hoped to. I wanted to pin down some dick at the park and pop him in the retina. Or maybe I’d hunt squirrels! Though, that idea seemed less appealing when I remembered that squirrels are cute and I liked them. I never liked people so much, but decided I shouldn’t blind anyone anyway. I might get in trouble.
For the first time in my life I felt the enormity, the awe of power and responsibility. I’d just keep the thing with me, I figured. Nobody else need know it’s there, but I will, and I’ll know when the time comes to use it.
Obviously I shot my cat on the way out the door.
I lived in a housing co-op for low-income families, and this plus the second cluster of apartments and townhouses next to it was pretty much the known extent of the world. Rows of narrow streets with cars parked under their patios, all the same. Colfax Crescent was the passage I went for strait away, looking for Daniel Honey. Fucking Daniel, with his stupid floppy hair. His mom drove a Volvo. Their family lead some sort of a church group along with the Laidlaws, Bronwyn and Pastor Joe. They all seemed strange, creepy, and birdlike. They waddled around like they were holding eggs between their knees. I’d peg any of those fucks in the nuts if they had ’em (do girls have nuts? I wasn’t sure) but Daniel was first on the priority list if I found them in a gaggle or whatever a group of space geese in meat suits is called.
I found instead a group of slightly older kids playing ball hockey at the end of the road. Only one net, so the nearest speed bump marked the halfway point of the rink, where the carrier would turn around and the goalies had to switch. I remembered that I was amazing at hockey, because I’d scored a goal once that made this kid Jesse Kelly tell his older brother that I was dope as shit. I ran over and stood off to the side bouncing around maniacally to announce my presence, arms loosely flapping by my sides and in every direction. Nobody seemed to care. Eventually I decided to be more direct, so I shouted: HEY MY GO YEAH? and tugged on Kuba’s sweater until he told me to fuck off. I recall that Kuba’s real name was Jakob but this doesn’t seem important. What’s important is that I was obviously too little for their game, and they should all probably die for knowing it.
I ran back to the place I had left my gun. Being excitable and stupid I had just sort of dropped it there in the road when my mindset changed to contact sports. It was still there, but it was not in one piece. The Tiger Pistol had been crushed under probably a dozen cars by then. And so was I.
Back at home that evening I lay on the floor, my tear-stained patch of carpet. My eyes were burning and my throat was sore from emphatic bawling, which by now only my cat seemed interested in. I had already apologized for earlier. I had no tears left in me, but could still announce my pain by refusing dinner. Refusing everything. I had to be carried to bed. I thought I’d never move again.
I was not known for that kind of display. This was more my sister’s territory. I was the calm and easygoing kid, to the point of psychiatric evaluation. My father will still bring this day up now and then as a horrifying night for him and my mother, wondering what was wrong with me or what had happened to shatter my little world.
I think the reason it had such a strong impact on me was that I knew it was my fault. There was nobody to blame, and if there had been I would have told them no big deal. I did it though, to something I loved in my kid way. I had just left it sat there in the road. My tantrum was shame. Knowing I could have changed it and now couldn’t. It was just a stupid squirt gun. But my mistake and stupidity churned within me. It was a moment of surprising maturity, in a way.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to look up all of the people I mentioned in this post, find where they live now, and throw water balloons through their windows.