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Gun Was Aimed

Barbara Rosenthal*



BEFORE the gun was even aimed, it exploded in her hand. The blast tore her hand off her arm. Three fingers, the pinkie and next two, stayed together and landed together on the washing machine in salute. The index finger was never found. The thumb remained fixed to its mount of Venus like a shelless clam and flew into the utility sink. The basement was spattered with blood and fragments of metal, but as much as the police combed, the bullet was never found either.

She heard the baby cry upstairs and thought to go to her just before she collapsed on the floor and then from the floor she heard the baby cry again even before she became aware of the sirens. (Whose baby?) (The baby is downstairs now. Someone, a woman, your mother, is holding her.) The basement was full of neighbors and uniforms. The neighbors and uniforms escorted her up the narrow stairs to the ambulance. The next thing she saw was her husband peering closely into her face. Everything was very white. He began yelling into her face. “She’s awake now; she’s awake.”

Maybe she could keep her mouth closed and pretend not to be able to speak or even to remember. She realized she’d failed so miserably and even through all the waking pain she knew humiliation. Close your eyes and let your husband think you’re comatose. “Hello,” someone using her body said.

“How could you do this?” he said. He moved away from her face now and stood by the edge looking down at her, a man in brown and green, dark and absorbent in such a blindingly white room. “The baby?” she tried to ask.

“No one ever knows what you’re talking about,” he said, and walked out.



--background photo: Rosenthal, 'Man with Gun and Woman'
*2012 WOOD COIN: Controversy! Blasphemy! Slander! Marriage!... Issue: Rosenthal, “Gun Was Aimed”