Truly Hardboiled

Shelby buys a gun at a pawn shop and takes it home with her, oils it and cleans it and sleeps with it under her pillow. She doesn’t name it – naming things like guns is stupid, she thinks; a gun is steel, oil, brass and lead, gunpowder and patient fire. Even so she talks to it, sings songs to it when it’s spread out on the cover of her bed, warms it against her cheek as she falls asleep. “You are mine,” she tells it. “Mine, mine, mine, mine. Yes!”

She collects vases, college mugs, discarded computer monitors. She bruises her arms practicing, dreams of lines of sight, stances, shells and casings. She practices drawing it, walks around the house carrying it until it lives in her mind like a third hand. It breathes with her, moves with her, pulses with her blood. She wears it under her arm, next to her heart, walks around the city ten feet tall. “You are mine,” she says to it, and takes aim at the top of the Columbia Tower. “Pow.”