I woke up this morning with my arms wrapped around a loaded rifle. It isn't as comforting as it
sounds, not like a lover. You wake up every time you hear a door open, and have fever dreams
about cowboys and bank robberies and deer hunts all night. I spent the day with a headache, the
kind you get from just not sleeping. I wished there were a way to make it go away.
I'm walking out of class, and I think, for some reason, I should call Pretty Baby.
And I think, when was the last time I thought of her as Pretty Baby?
When was the last time I thought of her, and didn't feel trapped.
It's gotten colder this week. Nobody takes naps on the quad anymore. I don't take naps on the
quad anymore. It's too cold, and there's no sun to lull me to sleep. It's cold, and grey, and
ugly. Who would sleep outside in that?
There's something red in the tree ahead of me, and I can't decide what it is. Maybe a frisbee, I
don't know. It seems significant, anyhow, perched way up there in that oak tree. They have
leaves again, winter is over. I walk.
Someone dashes into the middle of the road, stoops down to the ground. He bends down to retrieve
a pair of sunglasses, then looks my way. We make eye contact. He returns to the sidewalk.
I look up. It's a halfway deflated, day old balloon, perched way up there in the oak tree. It
still seems significant. I wonder if the man dropped his sunglasses in the street, or whether he
just found somebody else's sunglasses lying there. It doesn't really matter anyhow, nobody needs
His friends have the keys to the whole building, including my room. There's no deadbolt. The
electronic locks are really secure, really safe. I'd have a hard time breaking it, without the
key. Unfortunately, out of 120 people in the entire building, he had to be friends with the
people with the master keys. I just took sleeping pills. It isn't easy sleeping with a rifle in
your arms. I found out today he's armed. The police can't do anything though, he's their guest.
Ever had someone try to kill you? I have. There's this look they get in their eyes, when they've
decided they mean business. I've seen that look before. A man gave me that look, right before he chased us down for a half hour, going 90mph on surface streets, trying to ram us, going on the freeway. Throwing his truck into reverse on the freeway after we stopped to escape him, backing up through cars weaving going 90mph coming back for us, he had that look. I've seen that look before. He has the keys, he has a gun. My rifle
is not soft, my rifle is not tender. It does not embrace me like a lover. He has that look in
It's really her he's after, too. He hates me for defending her, but what man wouldn't defend his
girl, tell him to back off? I did the right thing.
I didn't call Pretty Baby. She called me tonight, while I was at the store. We talked for ten
minutes, minutiae, the brakes on the car and when am I coming and she misses me.
Me and my roommate are sitting on my balcony thirty minutes later, 40oz beers in hand, and we're
talking. He asks me if I would hate him if he violated something told him in strict confidence.
I ask what.
He tells me, "Well, Saturday, when her mom came over with her and we all got drunk..."
She pulled me aside that night, scared to death I would sleep with her mom. I promised her I
would never do something like that, I asked her mom to reassure her daughter later, quietly. She
"When you and her left the room, her mom told me something, and made me promise I wouldn't tell
I spent half the night on the balcony, reassuring her I wouldn't hurt her like that.
"That night you got the text message from Adam, the night you were all depressed and upset with
her for not coming, and he texted you and told you to take that rifle you just bought and shoot
"Her mom said she was there with them, laughing. Her mom felt guilty not telling someone, but
she made me promise not to tell you. I felt you should know."
"Thanks. I'd rather know."
And I'm sitting, waiting. The sleeping pills kick in maybe in ten, fifteen minutes, and I can
try and sleep with my rifle in my arms. My problems would all be gone if I stopped defending
her, stopped watching her. I could let the creep here have her. He just wants her anyhow, not
Her friends are telling me to off myself, and she's standing there, laughing.
I'm chambering a round now, and barricading the door. I hope he doesn't come tonight. I hate not
being able to lock the world out of my room.