I once had this friend, Jenny, who lived in a little trailer out past the ridge. It was a good place, secluded, and I spent many evenings there with her, drinking whiskey and shooting at beer cans in the dark. We were doing just that one night, when she finally asked me about it.
“Hey, Jerry, show me that silver bullet you’re always talking about.” My name wasn’t then and isn’t now Jerry, but she persisted in calling me that. I dug around in my pocket until my hand closed around the little metal cylinder.
“Careful, girl, that’s my blue sky you’re holding.”
“Yeah, I know. I just wanna see it.”
I was a little worried, as I’d never known Jenny to be careful or heed my advice. Against my better judgment I handed it to her. She tossed it from hand to hand as it glittered in the light of the fire. I think she saw the look on my face.
“I’ve got it, don’t worry. When I’ve got something, I’ve got it.” She flipped open her revolver, an old magnum inherited along with the trailer. When she slid the bullet into the chamber, it fit perfectly. She flipped it closed and cocked the gun. Aiming down the row of beer cans, she turned her head and smiled at me. “Which one?”
“None of them. I told you already, that’s my blue sky. Don’t you dare.” She took a big gulp of whiskey and mimed firing off a few rounds. “Dammit, Jenny, don’t. I said don’t. Don’t you care about anything?”
Her smile soured and she opened the gun. “Don’t be such a pussy, Jerry. I wasn’t going to shoot your damn bullet. It’s just a damn bullet. Here.” She gave it to me and I slipped it into my pocket. We kept shooting and drinking, but most of the fun was gone. I ended up getting very drunk and passing out on her couch.
I awoke to a splitting headache and the sound of rain. There was a blanket pulled over me, and on the coffee table a note:
I care about lots of things, Jerry. Keep your bullet. I’ll use a regular one.
Sure enough, she had.
AUTHOR BIO: Joshua Clark Orkin is a 27-year-old native of Ithaca, NY. After graduating from the University of Michigan he lived in Taiwan, China and the United Kingdom. Currently he is poor, lives at home, and wears a tie to work.
WHY WE CHOSE TO PUBLISH “My Old Silver Bullet”
The best stories pose a question at the beginning. In the case of “My Old Silver Bullet”, author Joshua Orkin does exactly that. He piques our curiosity and makes us want to know where this story is headed, and he doesn’t disappoint. As in real life, we don’t always know the answers, this piece mirrors that.
Good writing isn’t about only the story or the words used, but how they’re presented. We appreciated Joshua’s choice of verb tenses in the ending: the future in the note for the act contemplated but not done, and the past tense for the completed act discovered.