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You'd never even notice it, unless you were really looking.  I don't really talk about it, but, hey, everything in its season, right?  This is the story of maybe the dumbest thing I've ever done.  It's certainly the only time my lunatic step-father whaled on me that I knew, I KNEW, that I deserved it.

I was raised in Southern Oregon.  My mother married my step-father when I was, I dunno, nine or ten.  Not a nice guy.  Dry drunk, jesus freak, abusive, paranoid, etc.  A militia-type from before it was cool.  We were then (and still are) a poor family.  To make ends meet, my parents hunted every year.  A hundred pounds of venison goes a long way, when you're trying to feed six people.

The upshot is that my step-brother and I took our gun/hunter safety courses as soon as we could.  Did very well, as a matter of fact.  Four hunters is better than two, ya know?  I spent hours at the sportman's range, plinking away with my .22, so that I could do my part when deer season came.

 Anyway, it never mattered.  I've never killed a mammal.  I was taught not to TOUCH the trigger unless I was sure of my shot, and since I didn't get glasses until fourteen, well, I was never gonna be sure if it was a buck or doe, spike or forked.  So it goes.

My step-brother, though.  Well, like Nimrod, he was a mighty hunter before god.  I desperately wanted to be in his shoes.  Best explanation I can give for what happened.

I was thirteen, parents were gone for the evening.  My sister, step-brother, and I had the place for a few hours.  I finished my chores, and grabbed a shower.  As I was toweling off, I heard a distinctive "crack".   I know what a .22 sounds like, and I know I shouldn't be hearing it.  I decide I need to check it out.  My step-brother is in the backyard, with one of the BB guns.  He has found an interesting new game.    Shooting the ass-end of a rimfire cartridge makes it go off.  See, it's not playing with guns, just ammo.  Moron that I am, I wind up joining in.

It gets boring after a while.  He decides to see if we can do the same with the .38 and .45 shells.  It's a harder shot, but doable.  Nice loud "BANG", too.  I'm starting to forget just how dumb this really is.  Cheap thrills.  At first.

I decide to see if it'll be louder if I remove the lead, and then crimp the end of the brass shut again.  Hell yeah, it is!  So loud, I don't even notice that, when the shell exploded, it drove straight backward, all of about two feet, and buried itself in my chin.

Fuck.

For about a half hour, we desperately try to remove it, but it's stuck in the bone pretty good.  Even pliers won't do it.  So, knowing, even then, that ambulance rides are expensive, I call my grandma to take my stupid ass to the hospital.  No way of hiding it now.

I get ten stitches, after have a piece of metal yanked out of my face.  The next day, my step-father took a belt to the both of us, and I ate standing up for a day or two.  Only time I can remember thinking, "yeah, I deserve this."  

Anyway, not much else to tell.  I have been over cautious about firearms ever since.  I enjoy target shooting, but I'll never own a gun again, I don't think.  See, my best friend wasn't so lucky.  I wrote about it a while back.  One day, while in the grip of crippling depression, he took a pistol out to our favorite spot off of the Rogue River, and made an end of things.  I still miss him, quite a bit.

So, that's my story.  Not sure if it's worth much, but I'm rarely struck by the urge to write, so...

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