Long story short, my older brother shot me in the leg.
To me, that works fine just like that. I’m happy leaving this one short, no need to medium or long this story. It’s been told too often anyway. Too painful to remember, right?
Oh I forgot not all of you were there. Fine. Long story medium.
I am just one of four boys produced, raised and learn’d by Grandpa and Grandma Quilty. I got the silver medal in birth order- no shame there, mind you. All four of us qualify as above average in this way or that. On this particular star-wipe flashback, I’m about twelve years old. Older Brother is fourteenish, and he is above average in hi-jinks.
A child of my age living in a mostly farm-centric cow town (we literally had a huge cow statue) had a pretty good understanding of spatial reasoning on a grand scale. Miles separated everything: friend’s houses, the swimming pool, the school, that one gas station where you could sometimes buy comic books. A bike is all well and good, but Ohio weather is either melty-hot or single-digit-Celsius cold. I wisely took a dislike to such conditions while biking. Young me was also a smart lad and had figured out that a bike was me powered, but a moped was not-me powered. The score so far- Moped Lust: 1, Tour de France Aspirations: 0.
So the Older Brother, and I readily admit he can tell it better, lines up the plan like this:
- Use his friend’s moped to lure me into a false sense of security.
- Wait for me to let my guard down.
- Shoot me.
- See what happens.
You will no doubt agree to the elegance of this plan. Simplicity was key. I should mention that there was a bb gun involved in the early planning stages of this Machiavellian scheme, which I assume followed standard adolescent boy logic. Bang! ” Whoa, did you see that pop can?! I totally shot a hole in it, right through this can made of very strong metal, so go find my younger brother and I’ll reload the gun, we’ll see what happens.”
Cut to the setup. I was offered the chance to ride Older Brother’s friend’s moped. Trusting soul that I am, mad with two-stroke engine fever, I accept. Montage of me merrily mopeding- up one street, down another, up that first one again… Not much of a montage, I admit, but as I mentioned: small cow town. Here I fully admit to my memory embellishing the facts in one way or another, but so strongly has this been done that I can recount it no other way.
(O Fortuna starts playing from somewhere.)
//camera pans room//
Older Brother opens a basement window, and brings the bb gun into position
My face as I dismount, beaming with joy
Older Brother in the dim basement
My leg putting the kick stand down
(O Fortuna reaches its crescendo)
The trigger finger moves
Because of this, I have a tiny scar and a good tale to tell. The real story of suffering and hardship is how I was grounded for him shooting me. You see, I ruined a lot of clothes as a kid. As I’m bleeding all over my new jean shorts, Older Brother makes me an offer. If I don’t tell mom he shot me, he’ll get the blood out of my jeans. Win win. Except he did so by putting them in a bucket of bleach. When they were discovered, what was left of them earned me the silent grounding: you are grounded, you can’t ask why, I’m too mad to tell you. Twice I had taken the bait. See what happened?
Speaking of bait, after a dinner with our neighbors some months ago, The Child was on the table, trying to lure The Boy under it with bits of cheese she was dropping off the edge. “Oh The Boy, here’s cheese, mmm, good cheese The Boy…” she lilted. Cute, except she was also nudging a crock pot to the edge of the table, setting up a cartoon-esque plan to “see what would happen” should he take the bait. Her current pasttime involves quietly offering him a toy, then complaining loudly that he is robbing her. To see what happens, I presume.
It’s cliché for people to say, “I could never bring a child into this world with all the hardships and suffering, blah blah blah,” but you do hear it from time to time. You know they haven’t really thought it through, but it makes a sort of sense at times. Like when you’re bleeding under a moped. At the moment, I don’t think The Spouse and I could have another child. We’re not overly set on being a one child family, but I feel like we couldn’t bring another kid into this world full of hardships. Not the hardships of the world, but the hardships older siblings* come up with. I’m sure we will get over this feeling sooner or later, and then, well…
We’ll see what happens.