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  • Writer's pictureStuart Sheldon

I Shot My Brother – #1 of 10 Things I Can’t Believe I Really Did

Stuart Sheldon, Don't Hide Behind Words, acrylic and pastel on canvas, 24"x24", 2004

Stuart Sheldon, Don’t Hide Behind Words, acrylic and pastel on canvas, 24″x24″, 2004

I shot my brother with a BB gun. IN THE TESTICLES.

I’m not proud of it and it’s not funny. OK, maybe a little. But not really.

I was about ten. He was 8. A couple of nappy bedhead boys in short cotton pajamas with little baseball mitts on them. We were in the backyard of our mom’s house shooting lizards off the neighbors wooden fence. I remember the morning sun was warm and bright on my freckled cheeks. E’s pants were lime green and his shirt was white.

If you’re a city dweller, you’re probably asking why a 10 and 8 yr old had a gun and were outside alone shooting it. You’ll have to ask my mom that question. Fact is, we’d had the gun a while and liked to pretend we were crackshot cowboys. E actually had a knack, whereas my shot was quite inconsistent. Sadly, on this particular Saturday morning, my aim was true.

My brother is now an amazing physician and scientist. With a beautiful boy of his own not much younger than he was then. But the future didn’t matter on that sunny morning circa 1973. I terrorized him as a kid, as if I could not bear another actor in my show. It haunts me still. And I have tearfully apologized more than once as an adult. I’ll do so again now – Sorry, my brother, for being mean instead of nurturing you.

Our shootout started like all idiotic sibling arguments … over nothing at all. He stood near the sliding glass doors against a wall. I stood in the grass 30 paces back. I cocked the rifle.

And suddenly I’m pointing it at him. One eye squinting for aim.

I said something like, “I’ll shoot you.” To which he replied,”You wouldn’t.”

And, as nonchalantly as shooing a fly, I squeezed the trigger.

His face instantly betrayed the most incredulity I have ever seen.

His hands cupped his privates as he fell to the ground screaming. I just stood there in all my awfulness watching him crumble, as my mother came rushing out. She could not believe it either. But his welted scrotum did not lie.

Getting shot by someone alters the relationship for both parties.

I felt, and still feel, shame. And surprise at my own willingness to go there. I imagine thereafter he felt he was dealing with a loose cannon (pun intended). Which is true. Though, I’ve shot no one since.

Now, I have two boys roughly the same age difference. And they are entering the stage of rambling out back and stirring up their own trouble and adventure. Were I to walk out to find one of them cupping his balls and screeching whilst the other shifted foot to foot 10 yards away holding a smoking gun, I really cannot say what I’d do. The notion seems absurd on its face.

I seem to remember my mother being rather level-headed about it all. Frankly, she had every right to grab the gun and beat me senseless with it. But she knew better. She always knew better.

Do our mistakes define our lives or refine our lives?

It’s a matter of degrees. But in this case, it’s the latter. The loose cannon days are gone. Thankfully, there was no physical damage. And I love my brother with all my heart these days.

The only shots we deal with now come from a bottle of good whiskey.

Have you done something nuts? Something you regret? Leave a comment … so I know I’m not alone on the crazy train.

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