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09 Jun 2002 / 2:54 p.m.
.:  retelling

i thought of a story. it's possible that i've told this one, somewhere before, but i don't remember. it doesn't matter anyway, since it'll be different this time.

once, when i was leaving reno for grand junction, colorado, i stopped for coffee at a macdonald's. standing just past the drive-through was a man selling newspapers. i don't read the newspaper. i bought one anyway. no one was behind me, so the man and i started talking. i told him about where i was going, and he told me he used to be a bounty hunter in texas. he told me about killing a man, "a boy, really," he clarified. the boy was up on drug charges, skipped bail, and my storyteller caught up with him in small town new mexico. the man, who was suddenly old, says: "the kid, he's got an uzi, you know? i try to get him to put it down. he won't - he's pointing it at me, and i'm pointing my 12-gauge at him. something's got to give. so i shot him, twice. never regretted that. goddamn kid would've done 2-6, if that." i am looking at the old man standing on the curb as he tells me this. his pupils are shrinking, and he is looking far away, eyes watering. i look at the small texas lapel pin on his orange safety vest. the vest is smudged with newsprint and dirt; the pin is polished. i smile, tell him "i'm sure you did what you had to do," and drive away. the dead kid and the old man sat with me in the car from reno to salt lake city; the old man's eyes shrinking to pinpoints as we drove.


i read an interview with chuck palahniuk on privy last night. an excerpt that keeps running through my head:

privy: you work as a mason to keep in shape, so you’re not trapped behind a desk?

chuck: no, i do it because when you tell lies for a living, you have to have something to counterbalance that...

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