The Rifle-Talker

Ralph was handed the rifle that he’d just bought, and he rubbed it slowly up and down and pressed it against his cheek and held it firmly there, before realizing the gun seller’s clearing of his throat meant he wished he would clear out. Ralph had some iron in his step, the way he walked out of the gun shop and got into his car, you’d have thought he had walked out of his own high-rise company in the city. He drove home and when he went to sleep, he spooned it and told it things he’d never said to anybody. This went on for a couple of days, and I was starting to worry. I said, “Ralph, I’ve been noticing lately that you’ve been talking to your rifle a lot.” “Who says I’m talking to my rifle?” he said. “Well, who else would you be talking to?” I said. “I could be talking to the part of me that wants to make change happen yesterday through my rifle, but not with my rifle,” he said. “I suppose that makes sense,” I said. “You’re so agreeable,” he said. I said, “I was the only one who confronted you about your weird behavior.” “You’re just confronting yourself about how weak you are and you used me to bolster your sense of self confidence and manliness,” he said. “That’s totally not true,” I said. He cocked his rifle and pointed it at me. My life flashed before me. “It is absolutely true. You haven’t taken a side on anything all your life,” he said. “I decided to be your friend and always give you the benefit of the doubt,” I said. “Yeah, that’s what anyone does who’s an emotional prostitute,” he said. “How dare you call me a prostitute,” I said. “You sell your sense of identity and gut feelings to anyone who’s willing to smile at you for them,” he said. “It’s either that or terrify them with a look of disgust that could melt their faces off,” I said. “Oh god, you would make it about you being merciful somehow. That’s what sociopaths do,” Ralph said. “Oh my god you are totally twisting everything I do and don’t do into something that can serve your perverted mindset, and you know, it’s you who is the sociopathic narcissist, you projecting piece of – “There he is,” Ralph said. “No, that’s not me, you made me into a mean crazy person, you twisted- A dog ran by the window and I hurt my neck swiftly turning my head to look at it. “No imaginary white picket fence is going to make you feel safer,” he said. “I was startled by Chance, the neighbor’s chocolate lab for Christ’s sake,” I said. “The perfect self-fulfilling prophecy,” he said. “How is that a self-fulfilling prophecy you idiot,” I said. He lowered his rifle and said something into the butt of it I couldn’t quite make out. “See, that right there.” “Right where?” he said.

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