Seven years after the 11 o’clock news segment originally aired, when it’s summer hot, but not technically summer, she still asks, “What’s buckshot?” We all know that she knows, but I think she needs to hear that sigh in my voice so that she knows it unsettles just as bad to repeat the explanation as it is to hear it even though I’ll never know how…Even though she said he deserved it for all the times that he put a gun to her face. She watches me look down and to the side as I remind her, “It sprays.” “I never saw it,” she says, as I see her imagination piece together an image of an open face with what’s left of a tongue flopping around, blood spurting or pooling – I’m not sure what she sees.
She tells us in this heat every year as we sit outside drinking beer, “I found out in the middle of a shift, and I just kept working. I came in the next day too.” She tells us, “My mother called the news station to tell them that segment was how my little brother found out. They deleted the the footage of the slack-jawed inbred talking about how his face wasn’t there anymore…I wish I could still watch it.”
Before the subject abruptly changes, she reminds us that he said she never could do anything. He didn’t think she could go to college or take care of herself. He used to call her fat. He used to yell at her when she’d remind him that he wasn’t really her dad, but she had to remind him because he didn’t do the things a dad was supposed to do. “He was helping a prostitute named ‘Friday’ move from her estranged husband’s house. He was wearing a fanny pack when the guy shot him.” We sit on the corner at a fake European restaurant and wait for the baked brie to arrive. We wait for eight years after the 11 o’clock news segment originally aired, when it’s summer hot, but not technically summer, so she can ask “What’s buckshot?”