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The day we got a gun, I sat in the back of the dusty old pick-up, wondering if I breathed in enough gas fumes, if I could piss in the gas tank to get us farther. "You're going to get a sliver in your ass," said Jama, his eyes smiling, full of trouble. He always looked at me like a dog, waiting for my eyes to give a 'yes' in return. But today I wouldn't give a yes, my stomach was gnarled and knotted, like this tumorous road.
We jumped out at the top of the hill that looked out over the village, and Hassan just half-waved and drove off, and I wondered if he would be back at dusk like he promised, or if he'd be out of gas by then, his tank always Empty, never anything else. "What do you think she's doing right now? Fucking her brother?" I punched Jama hard, without even looking. He was smarter than me, funnier than me, but I was always stronger. And for that reason he would always look at me like a dog. He was talking about Yessina, the beautiful Yessina with the mole under her nose. She liked her brother, but lots of girls liked their brothers. If I had a sister, she would like me too, it doesn't mean I would fuck her. But I would fuck Yessina, I would marry her first, then I would fuck her.
And she lived here, in this village, and I wanted to see her, but we also had to get a gun. There was a meeting later in the week, and we needed to have a gun for the meeting. Not because anyone told us to, but because the older men with the red arm bands and the beards had lovely shiny guns, fresh from the Americans, and we wanted to at least have something.
We went down to see Gravas, who lived with his house half-dug into the ground. There was food out on the table, you could tell he was rich but was trying to hide it. It wasn't good for people to know you were rich. There were flies on his food, and he talked non-stop. He talked about the history of everything. "We used to be rats, stinking rats. Rodents. Can you believe that? You were a rat and now you want to buy a gun how old are you?" I didn't answer and treated him the way I treated Jama, just looked away and didn't flinch. It seemed like people respected you when you did that, maybe I could treat everyone like that and I would become a great man someday. "Here," he shoved it into my hand and I almost fell over it was so heavy, and I hadn't eaten. Jama kept looking at it, trying to touch its round barrel and hashed grip, I tried not to even look at it, I looked up and straight away, and kept thinking about Yessina. "Used to be that all of this was fertile ground, all thick grass like you've never seen, and then mountains rose up and trapped all the clouds, and now it's dry and dusty and hot. This used to be the greatest place on earth and now you have a gun that'll kill someone or probably yourself by accident." I looked Gravas straight in the eye and handed him his money. Jama and I left, the gun in my waistband held against me with the crook of my elbow as we walked. We were silent for some time.
We were getting to the edge of the village, far from Yessina's house, which to me glowed like a star in my mind, I always knew where it was, when suddenly Yessina came out of a white house with broken shutters. When she saw me she looked away, he eyes skimming along the road, no escape, then smiled. She tilted her face back, like she didn't care. And I felt how Jama must feel, how Gravas must feel, like a dog. "Turek," she said, as if we had planned to meet. "Is this Adib's house?" Jama trying to fight a battle for me. "Shut up, Jama," I hissed, "Yessina." I thought about the gun in my waistband. I saw the whole history of this place, I saw us all as rats, I saw Jama as a rat and Yessina as a rat. I thought of a mountain trapping clouds, collecting them like billfolds. I thought about my gun. And Adib came slowly out of his house, his steps like pooling water. He put his hand on Yessina's shoulder, and she closed her eyes, I think because it was now confusing who was the dog and who was the master. Jama looked at me, his eyes no longer smiling, his mouth ready to speak. I stepped closer to the two of them, looked at them both closer, "This is not your brother," I said, and me and Jama went up the hill to wait for Hassan whose tank was always Empty, never anything else.Posted by Dan at December 7, 2012 6:11 PM
didn't want that story to end. fantastic imageryPosted by lauren at December 9, 2012 10:34 PM
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"and i shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and i will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels lives in Montreal. His debut novel, Us Conductors, will be published by Random House Canada/Tin House Books in spring 2014. His work also occasionally appears at McSweeney's. Follow him on Twitter or reach him here.
Dan Beirne is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Email him here
Jordan Himelfarb lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Jordan's posts appear at Said the Gramophone only on the last Wednesday of every month. Email him here.
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our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)
Back to the World
La Blogothèque ◊
Weird Canada ◊
Destination: Out ◊
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe) ◊
Ill Doctrine ◊
A London Salmagundi
Petites planétes ◊
Gorilla vs Bear ◊
Silent Shout ◊
Clouds of Evil ◊
The Dolby Apposition ◊
Awesome Tapes from Africa ◊
Matana Roberts ◊
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews ◊
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan ◊
CKUT Music ◊
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater ◊
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden ◊
Passion of the Weiss ◊
Juan and Only ◊
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin) ◊
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad ◊
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross) ◊
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet ◊
things we like in Montreal
le pick up
au pied de cochon
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, caffé italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c
drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c
casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
cinema du parc
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe
The Morning News