There was nothing to do, so they took turns shooting at each other. It was just pellets, but the metal bits still stung and to get one in the eye meant blindness.
They were in the craggy woods that drifted off behind the trailer lot. A breeze carried the stench of rotting things, garbage, food waste and perhaps decomposing animal carcasses.
They each got hit several times. One raised a welt the size of grape on the boy’s neck. The older brother laughed when he saw it and so the younger one laughed as well. It felt exciting to be happy about something for once.
Back at the trailer, their stepfather was outside smoking. They’d been caught. He lined them up against the siding, stood only five yards away and fired, aiming at their knees and legs.
Years later, each boy had a family of his own. Their stepfather never came to any holiday gatherings and was not invited. When it came time to tell their sons stories, the brothers only told happy ones. They’d gotten good at it.
Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State. His work appears widely in print and online at such places asRed River Review, Orion Headless, Juked and others. His debut story collection is forthcoming from Aqueous Books in 2014. You can find him at lenkuntz.blogspot.com