By Cameron Victor.

With the crack of the shotgun as the dirge for the goose, Uncle Phillington boasted, “Two for two, Clyde, I’m just a natural.”

He thrust the shotgun in front of my face, still admiring his newest trophy lying dead in the grass. “That’s how I got so successful. My blood is better, and so is yours. Show me this top shot of yours that your father brags so much about.

“Uncle, I’m a skeet shooter.”

“No, you’re a Phillington. Show me how your skeet shooting abilities translate into real hunting.”

His gun was heavier than any other I had practiced with, but I repositioned my legs and arms and poised my finger on the trigger.

“Don’t be scared of the gun, it can’t hurt you when it’s pointed that way.” He pushed the butt hard against my shoulder. This sent me staggering back a step or two.

“Don’t retreat! You’re no coward, you’re a Phillington! That bird ain’t even half your size.”

I let the gun drop a bit, trying to breathe.

“The bird’s up there!” He lifted the barrel with his cigar. “Shoot! I want that thing’s head above my mantle today.”

Crack. A single feather gracefully twirled its last ride on the wind before sliding onto the ground.

“Damn,” Uncle snatched the gun and trudged with it, as though it were a cane, to the fallen feather. He tapped his cigar and let the dusty ash turn the feather from white into gray. “You got all the help and training at your fingertips and that still ain’t enough to cure you.” He slammed the gun into the feather and pulled the trigger. Five or six geese fluttered across the sky, one after another.

Uncle turned towards the house, “Your boy’s a disappointment, Patrick. Did you teach him?”

I saw a long shadow out of the corner of my eye and turned. My father. Two white gloves held a day umbrella over his head while another two gloves held a silver dish beside him. He placed his drink on the platter and with a flick of his hand, both the dish and umbrella scurried away and he stood alone. He marched down the marble steps in a different suit than this morning. “No, he ain’t. He’s just sick today.” He passed me but with eyes still fixed on his brother. “Clyde, go inside and lay down by the window. Richard give me that gun and let me show you who taught the boy.”

I’ve hated life ever since my eighth birthday. That was the day that family tradition dictated that I would become a Phillington man through the act of killing. I’ve graduated from squirrels to rabbits to geese to deer. I once shot a doe. A fawn with a little dark circle of fur near its thigh lay down next to its bleeding mother that only moved when the wind grazed its fur. I learned that day that the gun is nothing but an extension of arrogant power, and since then I haven’t killed.

I watch as my father diverts the attention away from me – his weak son – and proves his Phillington worth to his overbearing older brother.


CAMERON VICTOR is an incoming freshman at Tulane University in the fall of 2015. She has been writing since the 4th grade. Throughout her writing career she has been published online at Teenink and has won numerous writing awards through the Scholastic Artists and Writers contests. She has always called Los Angeles her home, but is excited and ready for New Orleans.

Photo credit: Goose by Michael Gil via Flickr CC.

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