K iss Kiss, Bang Bang

Pulp Literature - - THE 2017 BUMBLEBEE FLASH FICTION CONTEST - Jay Al­lisan is part-time au­thor and full-time thinker. She lives in south­ern Al­berta, where she works as a swim coach. Visit her on­line at www.jay­al­lisan.com. by Jay Al­lisan

It wasn’t un­til grade school that Brody re­al­ized the dif­fer­ence be­tween boys and girls. From the out­side they looked alike. Girls wore pants. Boys wore pants. Girls had short hair. Boys had short hair. Girls romped through the mud and played with toy trucks and got into fist­fights with each other just like the boys, and all the moth­ers would roll their eyes and say, “Girls will be girls.” Brody thought boys and girls were pretty much the same.

Un­til the first day of grade school, when Sally Con­klin from across the street showed him what she got at the girls-only assem­bly.

“It’s a gun,” she said proudly. “All the girls got them. Mrs Garfield says we don’t get bul­lets un­til we’re older, but these squirt some kind of slime that makes you itchy. So watch out!” She stuck the gun in her waist­band. “What did you get at your assem­bly?” “A warn­ing,” Brody said. “About how to treat girls.” The warn­ing was start­ing to make sense.

In mid­dle school Bobby Ziefen­berger got shot when he tried to look up Mary-lou Churchill’s dress. She shot him right in the chest, and Bobby plopped down in the dirt and howled un­til some­one ran to get a teacher. All the girls clus­tered around Mary-lou and kept their guns pointed at Bobby. All the boys stood back with their hands in their pock­ets. When Mr Wu got there he asked what hap­pened, and ev­ery­one told him the same thing.

“I was just jok­ing!” Bobby whined. “I wasn’t hurt­ing her. She didn’t have to shoot me!”

Mary-lou crossed her arms and stuck her tongue out at him. Mr Wu said, “Go see the nurse, Bobby. We’ll dis­cuss this af­ter school.”

When Bobby was gone, the girls put their guns away and went back to play­ing. Mr Wu took the boys aside.

“It’s not a joke,” Mr Wu said qui­etly. He looked se­ri­ous but also sad. “Re­mem­ber that. It could save your life.”

“I don’t know about sav­ing our lives,” Ge­orge Polk whis­pered to Brody dur­ing math class. “But I bet it could save our moms some laun­dry.”

Brody looked over at Bobby, who had an ice pack strapped to his chest. Bobby’s shirt was bright pink from the paint pel­let, and his face was even pinker, be­cause ev­ery­one was star­ing. Brody thought that was worst part, hav­ing ev­ery­one know what you did.

“It’s no big deal now,” Brody whis­pered back. “But I hear they get bul­lets in high school.”

On ju­nior prom night, Brody picked up his girl­friend, Clarisse. He thought she looked hot. He told her so. His gaze fell to her cleav­age, and she wag­gled a finger at him.

“Care­ful,” she said, pat­ting her clutch. “It’s in here. And even though they’re made of wax, the bul­lets hurt like hell.” “How would you know?” Brody said. “Be­cause I’ve been shot, ob­vi­ously. It’s part of train­ing. Plus now there’s pa­per­work any­time we fire. It’s all very se­ri­ous.” She put her arms around his neck and kissed him. “So no funny busi­ness. I’d rather not spend tonight in a po­lice sta­tion.”

One night dur­ing col­lege, Brody was at a party. He was with Clarisse. She had her gun on her hip, and the bul­lets were real now, re­ally real. He’d watched her shoot it once, down at the range. She moved like a well-oiled ma­chine.

So when the big drunk line­backer came out of nowhere and pushed her against the wall and groped be­neath her skirt, Clarisse didn’t hes­i­tate for a sec­ond. Be­fore Brody even moved, Clarisse had kicked the line­backer in the balls, scram­bled away, and yelled, “Stay back!” as she drew her gun. Just like that, the party went quiet. Just like that, Clarisse was sur­rounded by armed women. Brody could only stare as the line­backer was es­corted away by three women with guns at his back. He was still star­ing when Clarisse called his name.

“I don’t get it,” Brody blurted. “You weren’t re­ally go­ing to shoot him, were you? She frowned. “It’s not like I wanted — ” “There’s no way you were go­ing to shoot him.” “Brody, he at­tacked — ”

“You can’t shoot a man over that.” Clarisse flinched. Brody shook his head in dis­gust. “Men should have guns too, to pro­tect themselves. Then it would be fair.”

Clarisse bit her lip, her cheeks flushed red. She rested her hand on her gun. Her hand trem­bled.

“No,” she said qui­etly, turn­ing away. “It’ll never be fair.”

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