Brambles and blackberry plants scratched the Honda's shiny black finish
as the three of us lurched down a dirt track through the patch of clear-cut.
Twigs scraped around the car's wheel wells and flew back out again.

We stopped at a place where people had dumped their trash at the end of the road.

The two men prepared to blast. Each had brought his gun:
the driver, a rifle he'd had since he was a boy,
and the other man, a Mauser with a tiny swastika scratched in the side.

The driver fired some shots from his rifle into a yellow target
he'd taped to a typewriter case he'd found in the trash heap,
then the other man pumped some bullets from the Mauser.
The gunshots rang off the flat dark walls of trees.
They collected the yellow targets after each round.
Neither man was a very good shot,
although you could see they were concentrating.

"You want to try?" The man offered me the Mauser.
It was a terrible thing to hold, warm and smooth, heavier than I'd expected.
The swastika had obviously been engraved by hand.

"No," I said, handing the gun back to him. "No. I'll just watch."

I retrieved a spent casing and some slugs from a mound of dirt
near the typewriter case when they were done.
Perversely, I still carry the slugs with me.


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