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“One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.” -Chekhov


“Wash your hands,” he says. I look up at him, obedient. I’m distracted thinking about our afternoon. “There’s a lot of lead.” His voice always drops slightly when he tells me what to do, and my body instantly reacts to his octave change. I so want to please him. I’m still strangely aroused by our afternoon. We’d gone shooting.

“No concealed weapons” the door read. I begin to involuntarily shake a little as we stepped into the shop. Camilo scanned the guns lined like jewelry in a glass case and pointed to one. The precise way with which he handled it caused my hands to shake harder. I wrapped my arms around myself, and stared at him, fascinated. He cracked it open and snapped it shut with ease and efficiency. Lining the sight up, he pointed the barrel at the wall to the left of the clerks baseball cap and said, “This one.”

We signed our lives away and I’m startled that they just handed us a gun and 4 rounds of ammo like its nothing. We walked back to the range and he gestured for me to put my earplugs in. Inside, we are the only two. He strings up our first target and slides it back along the wire. Taking the gun in his hand he guides me through each step, how to hold it, what the rules are. He loads the first clip and I step back directly under an air vent. Immediately I miss the heat of him next to me. Chills cover my skin as he pulls the trigger, and my body jolts at the sound. Silently I mouth, “Holy shit.”

Adrenaline churns through me as he expertly fires shot after shot. He knows exactly what he is doing. I’ve never seen anything like it. He is a real life hero. My whole body is shaking from the thrill and fear. I’m excited, terrified and impressed by him. He turns to me with a smile, “Come on.”

I try and breathe normally and shake my body out a bit before wrapping my right palm around the handle and cup my left thumb up under my right like he showed me. My right finger is lined up straight above the trigger, “Don’t move that finger until you are ready to shoot”, he warns me heavily. I nod, meekly. I’m holding a loaded gun in my hand.

My anticipation palpable, I feel my heart pulse in my trigger finger as I pull back gently. The pop is instant and electrifying. I’m trembling as I pull back again and again. I line up my focus and try to breathe, readying my next shot. I’m momentarily derailed by another loud blast. Other people have come in, and are shooting a few feet away from us. Overwhelmed, I look back to Camilo scared and he reaches out to hold the gun down, “Don’t look away while you’re holding it”. I nod needing his reassurance. I don’t want to mess up, I want to impress him. The air thick with gunfire, I finish my shots.

The trigger pulls an empty chamber, and I very slowly lay the gun down on its side. My heart pounds in my chest- I did it. I let the air out of my lungs for the first time in minutes and suck it back in quickly as the others continue to fire shots. Camilo gives me a nod of approval and I beam. He takes the gun and gestures to the door, “I’m going to switch this one out,” he says and steps out.

I lean against the wall, hiding. I begin to count the blasts in my head, my fingers pressed tightly into my earplugs. The sound ricochets around the space. “Come back come back come back” I will silently, needing him to feel safe. The second he returns, I am ok again.

I hover close as he loads the new gun. He slides 16 bullets into the clip, snaps it in and hands it to me, “This one will be gentler.” I nod and try to stand comfortably, breathe and focus. I need to nail this, action movie style. I mentally channel Angelina Jolie and cock my right foot back, drop my shoulders and pull the trigger.

We finish our last round and step out. I am exhilarated but trying to play it cool, this is something Camilo does every weekend. I keep the last target, smug knowing that every bullet hit the bad guy. We got him.

Driving home, I gaze over at him while he toys with the radio, skipping around picking the perfect song. I’m still vibrating from the experience, awake in ways I haven’t been in forever. I’m intrigued. By him, and by the affect he has on me. He drives like the expert he is, fast and in control. I’m completely confident that I’m safe. Smiling, savoring the adventure, I close my eyes, and push my face into the wind.