Going After Bobby
Rain fell like pearls on the gray sidewalk, the sparse brown lawn, and the scattered, rusted toys cluttering the cinder block porch. Thunder rumbled above the neighborhood.
Inside the white, battered house, two boys watched television. The cartoons were getting boring, someone blowing someone up again, and with that silly music playing, but what else was there to do on a rainy summer day? Their parents were both working...and had left the two boys alone.
Bobby sat in his favorite chair, the beaten black recliner, and tried to read a dog-eared paperback he'd read five times before. Five years older than Jimmy, he knew his little brother looked up to him. He had to think of something for them to do. For Jimmy's sake. Then it hit him.
He flashed his half grin at Jimmy. "I know something you don't," he teased.
Jimmy's eyes lit up like Christmas morning. "What?"
"Nah," Bobby groaned. "I can't tell you."
"C'mon! I can keep a secret, honest!"
Bobby laughed easily and flopped out of the side of the chair. He couldn't resist ruffling Jimmy's hair. "That's right. You can."
Slowly, looking both ways as if someone was watching, Bobby leaned down to his brother. He could hear the cartoon music filling the air as he let Jimmy's excitement build. "I found Dad's gun. Wanna look at it?"
Jimmy felt his stomach dance with excitement. Just like the cop shows on TV! "Let's look!"
They sang as they nearly skipped to their parents' room. "Daddy's gun! Daddy's gun! We're gonna look at Daddy's gun!"
It was in the closet, just where he'd seen his Dad hide it. Way back behind the work boots. Under the faded coveralls. Bobby reached in with his hands shaking in boyish excitement.
"Is it there? Is it there!"
Bobby stared in open-mouthed awe at the sleek blue-black revolver in his hand. It was just a target pistol to his Dad--a toy--but to the boys it was a marvel and a symbol of everything they imagined a man to be.
Jimmy squealed like a little pig and jumped on the creaky bed. The flowered bedspread rumpled under his moving feet. His little hands wrung each other like they always did when he was excited. "Lemme see it! Lemme see it!"
Bobby couldn't help laughing. The gun felt good in his hand. Shiny. Smooth. Powerful. When he held it in his too small, shaking hand, he felt like one of those heroes in the movies he loved to watch. Like Dirty Harry. Srunching up his face in his best mean man look, he pointed the gun at the window."You feel lucky, punk?"
"Great!" Jimmy squealed. He stopped jumping on the bed and hopped to the hardwood floor. "Come on, Bobby. Let me hold it."
Bobby looked at the sleek gun in his hand and then at his brother's expectant face. He knew he shouldn't let his brother hold the gun. It really wasn't a toy. Just like Dad said.
Outside, the rain intensified. Lightning flashed. Jimmy was so excited about the gun he forgot to be afraid of the storm.
"Uh... I don't think we should be playing with this, Jimmy."
Jimmy didn't want to hear that. Not when he could see the gun in his brother's hand. Everything in the room seemed too dull. He had to touch the gun. "Let me see it!" he screamed. A half second later, he grabbed the gun away from his brother and darted across the room.
"Jimmy! Give it back!" Bobby reached for his brother...to take the gun back. Come on, Bobby, he thought. the kid's safe. Dad wouldn't leave the gun loaded...
"Look, Bobby," Jimmy grinned. "I'm gonna kill myself."
He touched the muzzle to his birdlike chest. The barrel looked even darker against his mustard stained t-shirt.
"Jimmy! Don't do that!"
Jimmy shook his head almost like an adult. "It's not loaded, Bobby. Watch."
With his little fingers, Jimmy pulled back the hammer--just like the cops on TV--and squeezed the trigger.
There was nothing but a dull click and the sound of rain against the windows.
Bobby began to shake. What if the gun was loaded?
"See Bobby. I could even point it at you."
The shot split the air. Bobby jerked into the wall. His youthful face flashed shock. Then pain. Then it went soft as he slumped to the floor.
Jimmy leaped to the spot where his brother fell. Bobby's stripped t-shirt was stained red just below the left armpit. Bobby's eyes were closed. He didn't move.
"Bobby, wake up! Wake up! Come on! I was only joking."
Jimmy knelt beside his big brother. For the first time he could remember, Bobby was quiet. He cradled the older boy's head in his lap and tried to smooth his light brown hair. "Please, Bobby. Please wake up. I didn't want to hurt you."
Bobby didn't answer. Bobby was gone to heaven. Jimmy knew...and he wanted to be with his brother.
Slowly, he turned his eyes on the gun in his hand. He closed his eyes tightly as he put the barrel on his chest in the same spot he shot Bobby. His little ears picked up the sound of his parents pulling into the driveway...but he knew what he had to do.
"I'm going after you, Bobby. I'm going after..."
And Jimmy went after Bobby.