Shooting a Wounded Bird

bird with broken wingA B.B. Gun

It was the one present I got for Christmas as a child that I didn’t ask for or want.

When my two brothers and I woke up that Christmas morning and rushed into the living room, we wasted no time ripping open the packages and gifts scattered about. As I put on my new skates, I noticed there were three B.B. guns on the sofa. I looked around and counted. Antmar makes one. Ken makes two. And Tony makes three. Even though I knew my arithmetic was correct. There were three B.B. guns and three sons. Still, I wondered out loud, “Who’s the other B.B. gun for?”

“What do you mean?” my mom asked.

“There are three of them,” I answered.

“I know,” she responded as though I had stated the obvious. “There’s one for you, Ken, and Tony.”

I couldn’t hide my confusion.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. “I see that look on your face.”

“I’m trying to figure out why you got me a B.B. gun.”

“You said you wanted one,” she explained.

I quickly corrected her, “No, I didn’t.”

“Yes, you did.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Then you got one anyway,” my mother stated and ended the debate over whether I had actually said I wanted a gun.

I whispered under my breath, “I didn’t though.”

My brothers, cousins, and friends all had B.B. guns and wasted no time canvassing the neighborhood trees for robins. A few days passed before I took my B.B. gun out of the house. When I did, it was to follow the gang on their neighborhood hunting expedition. I wasn’t planning to shoot anything. I was just tired of being left out while they were out hunting.

I should have known things wouldn’t go as planned. As everyone set their sights on the red-chest birds high in the trees, I aimed at cans, bottles, and make-believe targets in the trees.

“You’re scaring the birds with all that,” I was quickly admonished. “Either shoot at the birds or don’t shoot.”

“He’s too scared to shoot a bird,” my baby brother joked. “He should have stayed home.”

This brought out that “other” side of me – the side that needed to prove them wrong. So, I looked in the trees, spotted a bird, lifted my B.B. gun, steadied my aim, and then shot. The bird fell to the ground.

“Don’t tell me I can’t shoot a bird,” I bragged.

“Well, you gonna have to shoot him again,” my brother said after going to pick the bird up. “He’s still alive.”

“What?” I asked.

“He’s still alive,” he answered. “You have to shoot…”

I was home before my brother could finish telling me what I needed to do.

A few days ago, I was reminded of that B.B. gun when I saw a group of kids gathered around something on the ground. One of the boys had a B.B. gun and had wounded a small bird. As the boy stared at the bird hopping around, a look that I was all too familiar with crept across his face. He was discovering what I learned a few days after I got my one and only B.B. gun for Christmas. Shooting a bird out of a tree was a monumental task for me, but shooting a wounded bird that was hopping around my feet was next to impossible.



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