Give Me the Gun!
Donald R. Fletcher, author
“So, what would you do? Go to the Police? Expect them to put this kid under surveillance ten, twelve hours a day?”
I was talking with Harry, vice-principal and friend, in his office during my free period. Harry knew about the writing notebooks, that each student had one and that I gave them ten minutes at the beginning of English class to write—anything they wanted to write, anything they were thinking about—just to write. For this, they didn’t need to bother much about grammar or spelling, and they could be as personal as they wished. Sure, I collected the notebooks each day and kept them until the next. I would look at them, but not to grade; and if students had written something very personal that they didn’t want read, they could just write, “Do not read,” at the top of the page, and they had my promise that I’d skip that page.
I was in Harry’s office with Ed’s writing notebook in my hand. Ed was a good student, but proud and aloof. His father was a union boss, often in the forefront of the rough-and-tumble politics of our working town. The two of them lived alone. More than that, I didn’t know. I was telling Harry how I had challenged the students to imagine that they knew, somehow, that they had just two hours to live. What would they do?
In his notebook, Ed knew very well what he would do. There were certain people—guys and some girls, too—who jeered at him, taunting him with “the boss” and cutting him off. Ed had not put “Do not read” at the top of the page. He wrote that he would hunt down those people, each one, and get even. Then he wouldn’t care what might happen at the end of the two hours.
“What do you think we should do? What can we do?”, Harry was asking. Just then, the Principal’s voice came over the Intercom, sounding in every corridor, all over the building,
“Code Yellow. Code Yellow.”
All the teachers and staff knew what that meant: Shooter in the building.
A cold wave swept me. “Harry,” I broke out, “that could be Ed!” I was on my feet, grasping for the door.
“Shelter in place!” Harry exclaimed, reaching for my arm; but I eluded him.
That hallway and the next were empty. Our training had been good. I got to the Humanities wing, and at the far end of the corridor I saw a dark figure.
“Ed,” I called out, trying to keep from shouting.
He wheeled around. Now, getting closer, I could see a rifle in his hand, and see his face, twisted in fury.
“Ed, give me the gun!”
He waited, until I got close. Then he raised the barrel, pointing it full in my face. I saw the light glinting along the assault rifle’s blued steel. I stopped still, and said again, as calmly as I could,
“Give me the gun.”
Ed lifted the barrel higher and let loose a short burst over my head, into the corridor ceiling; then slowly, very deliberately, he reversed the rifle and passed it to me, butt first.
Author Notes: At age 101, Don Fletcher has published nine books, and is now dedicated to flash fiction.