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Trigger Happy
Angus Macaulay

Once again I ignore him. The second shot is not as thrilling as the first.


Summer's routine of evening drinking at close friends' houses grows tiresome.
The novelty of freedom wears off and boredom sets in, conversation runs dry and the latest technology in home entertainment conquers our attention. However the excitement and power concealed in a shiny metal sheath glints and shines. A gun, of course, to be precise a 'fully sprung air rifle with a lightweight butt . . . ' It smiles and winks provocatively, waiting, wanting to be taken.

I want to touch, to slide my fingers along the smooth steel. Images of childhood heroes flood my mind. I suggest a stroll down to the beach, roughly three hundred yards away. Grunts and moans greet my suggestion. "With the gun."
"No-one's awake."
"Who would see us?"

Heads turn and nod . . . we gradually rise to our feet and make for the door. Are the parents asleep? I grasp the barrel and try to prevent the tell-tale rattle of pellets in the metal tin. Creeping past the houses with the threatening glow of society breaking the curtains' defences adds that "George Smiley" feeling to our mission. We reach our destination breathless, we comment on our fitness and promise to start fictional jogging to get in shape. We slump on an extremely uncomfortable bench perched on the side of the cliff facing the surf hut. This exercise lasts about twenty minutes. Once again we become bored.

We begin stumbling in a direction that would eventually lead us back to our base-camp, stopping at intervals to allow our wheezing lungs some time to recover from the burning sensation. My friends notice light from the beach. The trio falls silent. Rhythm and voice reach our ears: 'Zombie' by the 'Cranberries'. Finally some excitement: I reload the rifle, stand and point the barrel in the direction of the flames. I pause for a moment as the closer of my two compadres expresses his pessimistic view of the outcome. Naturally I ignore him. The pressure of nothing builds in my head. The trigger moves as if from an invisible force; it can only be my finger but I feel nothing. My shoulder kicks back. I have fired.

The feeling, which overwhelms me, can only be described as confusing: adrenaline, fear, power and weakness. I like it. A bizarre concoction of emotions to experience, but nevertheless my new organic narcotics are very addictive. I need more. My silent partners remain stunned. I turn and stare for a minute. We simultaneously burst into hysterics, a cocktail of nervous emotions. I attempt to reload my mini cannon, fail. My hands shake. I take a deep breath and return to my assignment. By now our target has realised something is not quite right. Little did I know the extensive damage I had caused with my first shot . . . For the second time I raise and aim the rifle. My closest friend persists in telling me the dim view the law will take. Once again I ignore him. The second shot is not as thrilling as the first. The emotions I had originally experienced are exactly the same now, but guilt and premonitions of bleeding boy-scouts become abundant. I run.

The images I see run with me. Fuelled by fear, my speed increases. Visions of severed limbs run before me. My friends, hot on my heels, begin to think the same thing but their consciences are clear. Mine is black. I awake oblivious of my crime. I only know that I must have consumed large amounts of alcohol the previous evening. My head hurts. My throat is dry. Somewhere beyond the back of my consciousness something looms. How intoxicated was I? What did I do? My partners in crime call me and describe the events of the evening. It dawns on me that my drunken labours will find me, punish me.

I decide that my partners and I should meet. We assemble at the venue where it all began, go through our story, fitting together the pieces we can remember like a jigsaw. Although we knew it was extremely stupid and irresponsible, there was no denying the fact that it was the most exciting thing we had achieved all summer. Constructing our alibis occupies the majority of the day. Darkness begins to creep in on us like a quilt. I suggest spending the evening at my house, which is roughly three miles from the nearest civilization.

Distance gives the illusion of security. We take the air rifle. No evidence must be left behind to incriminate us. We travel by an inconspicuous route rather than risk the roadway. The coastal path rises steeply from the cove. The rough terrain becomes taxing. All agree a cigarette would boost our spirits. This incentive fuels us to climb further until we reach our vantage point above the harbour. We collapse onto soft hummocks of grass, I begin rolling their rewards.

The cigarette break drags on longer than planned. Below us a car pulls onto the forecourt of a house by the harbour. In the glow of a security light I see it is a white Escort. "Police?" The rifle is unveiled. The sights on the gun reveal an inflatable being removed from the boot of the car.
"No. Emmets."
"Bloody emmets!"
This comment justifies a single shot by one of my friends. It hits the doorbell two feet in front of the offending emmets. We are impressed.
"Give it here a minute." I reload, alter the magnification slightly on the sights. A woman is sitting on the balcony above the door. I aim at a mug perched on a table, roughly six inches from her arm. We hear the sound of a pellet glancing off the side. I hand the gun to the third member of our troop. He fires, hits it, but still it doesn't break. The owner of the gun takes it back, shoots, shatters the mug. The woman stands abruptly. A man appears in the doorway. She speaks, he ushers her inside. He returns with a torch and scours the cliffs. We see the spotlight closing on our position and dive behind some gorse. The light sweeps on across the cliff. We retreat rapidly. I take the lead because the cliffs are hazardous at night. I know where every danger lies.

My friends struggle to keep up the pace. I offer to carry the gun. We reach the headland above my home and gaze down at the welcoming glow of our haven. "We're safe now." "I need a beer!" I reassure them that there is plenty. Walking down the drive is pleasant. As we turn the corner, we are blinded. The sharp cut of headlights dazzles me and I stand in a daze. Doors slam. Two shadowed figures approach. The weight of the gun increases as it grows in my hands. I know who they are but I say nothing. I know what they will say before they begin. " . . . you have the right to remain silent. Anything you do say may be used in a court of law against you . . . "

Angus Macaulay
2001
Angus is 16 now currently studying for his GCSE's

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