Loud as usual, glamorous, and intimidating
as ever, she waltzed in.
Light and agile, she carried herself like a carbon-fibre MP5. Fall sunshine ricocheted off her warm oak chassis and blued-steel skin. Still, she had a certain sawed-off double-barreledness.
“Call me Bella. Heard you wanted an interview.” She shed her trench coat, revealing a long, smooth body that mixed business with pleasure. “Here I am. At your service: everybody’s beautiful scary girlfriend, everybody’s helpful generous mom, and everybody’s crazy old aunt. Near as your nightstand. Far as Fallujah.”
She rifled her pockets. Gunpowder scented the air. Out came a Marlboro, already lit.
“Lock & Load: Armed Fiction. You’re the editors. I’m the subject. So here’s the deal: I call the shots. You return fire.” She pantomimed chambering a round. “Ready, aim — ”
Bella: You’ve called me a literary muse. Are you just sucking up, like everyone entranced by my power and danger?
Editors: We respect you, but we fear you, too. After you took over our gun stories, we learned that you’ve gotten the drop on lots of writers. Fatal misfires caused by chucking a shotgun into a pickup on the first page, or pulling a surprise pistol from under the pillow on the last, littered the landscape. Writers need sharp eyes and steady hands to control you. (Read more on Medium.)
Inside the book, Lock & Load:
- Pinckney Benedict’s “Mercy.” Cultures and values collide in Appalachia.
- Annie Proulx’s “A Lonely Coast.” Contemporary women deal with with guns, trucks, and trouble.
- Bonnie Jo Campbell’s “Family reunion” starts with a young girl’s hunger to belong, and ends in rough justice for an unforgivable act.
- Rick DeMarinis‘s “The Handgun.” The hilariously chilling story of a fraying marriage and a .22 revolver.
- John Edgar Wideman’s “Tommy.” Desperation drives this intelligent but aimless young African American man into a fatal confrontation.
- Jim Tomlinson’s “The Accomplished Son” pairs this veteran’s pain with the loss of his father.
- Thirteen more compelling gun tales told by Mari Alschuler, Daniel Cox, Mary D. Edwards, Elaine LaMattina, John P. Loonam, Deirdra McAfee, BettyJoyce Nash, Nicole Louise Reid, Sara Kay Rupnik, Patricia Schultheis, Joann Smith, Gale Walden, and E.G. Willy.