Write a story about B.B. Gunne and Win the Drawing on the Right

Write a story about B.B. Gunne and Win the Drawing on the Right
The contest closes Monday April 25th, 2011 

B.B. Gunne 10"x8"
oil and mixed media
on masonite 

B. B. Gunne

Click on pictures to enlarge
The story you write should be a "Flash Fiction" which is a complete story in one thousand or fewer words.  Please post the story in the comment section, you will have to provide your name and an email address in order to be qualified to win or you can e-mail me at with your info.  There is a problem with how many characters can post (only about 4,000) so if you cannot post it.  E-mail it to me at

Entries for this contest may be used in a future show.  

Renovated Reputations is the result of an internet blogging project in which paintings and assemblages based on vintage and antique vernacular photography are the inspiration for short fiction.

The impetus for this project is based in a solo show of paintings in I am having at ArtHaus Gallery in San Francisco in April through June 25th 2011. 

The show is called
Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs.
at ArtHaus 411 Brannan Street  San Francisco, CA  94107

Download the draft of Tabloid Newspaper catalog as a PDF.
Here's a link to the free newspaper style catalog as a pdf:

Here's a link to the book:
(This is about 5MB so if you are using firefox it may stall.  You can right click and save or use explorer.)

The Shooter by Patrick Nelson

"All right now son, just line the rear sight up with the front one until they are together and the tops are flush" the sheriff said in my ear. "Now just take a deep breath and  squeeze the trigger when you exhale."

        He always called me son; when he watched me mow his lawn, or work in his garden or when we finally got around to the one thing I waited all week for: shooting his bb guns. I was not his son. I was his neighbor ever since he moved into his mother's house after she died. It made me miss my father bad when he called me son. I did not like that, but at least he did not call me Bobby Boy. That was what my dad called me.

        I exhaled and when I breathed in I pulled the trigger.

        The Daisy Ninety-nine Champion was the most powerful of the four rifles my neighbor had. Its accuracy was good, but that was traded off for comfort and easy reloading. The last coke bottle I had put on the fence separating our yards tilted to the side and spun around finally falling like a drunk clown. Like my neighbor the sherf. That is what we called him, Momma and I. His real name was Kendrik Lawson. He was the sheriff in our town for going on twelve years here in the middle of Missouri. He would always say: "I been sheriff here for longer than you were a dirty little thought in your daddy's mind."

        I hated when he talked about my daddy, too. I hated him and his sweaty fat body, his sour liquor breath, his stabby whiskers and what he made me do with him just so I could shoot his daisys.  He would keep them all in a cherry cabinet in the parlor of the old house he inherited. He had real guns, since he was the sheriff, but they were all kept in the basement. Momma didn't know what sherf made me do aside from the stuff she could see, but I wanted to shoot the guns too much to tell her.

        After all the work and other things were finished he would set the cabinet key on the table, pour us lemonades and we would sit in front of the rifles behind the glass door and he would tell me about how when he was a boy he had a neighbor much like himself who would teach him about "the things a man needed to know" because his own daddy, like mine, had passed away. He would say things about the other neighbor boys that he had taught to shoot over the years as well. I listened to about half of what he said. I just wanted to shoot.

        I was a good shot. I did not need some dirty old man to tell me that. I had once shot a rabbit in one eye and out the other. It dropped to the ground like a sock full of fishing weights. Sherf said he was impressed but I waited till we finished shooting, cleaning and storing the guns to run home and cry. That poor bunny did not deserve to die for sport. I cried all night till I fell asleep. I did not want him or anyone to see that. I swore I would never aim those daisys at another living thing again.

        As well as the real reward of shooting all the guns I thought I would never be able to own, sherf would pay me a little for the chores and other stuff. It was never enough, but the guns made up for a lot of it. One day it struck me that if I kept some back from what the man gave me, I may finally be able to tell sherf to take a hike if I bought my own gun. Momma said that would be ok so I started saving up.

        Sherf said if I ever told anyone what he did to me alone, they would send me away and I would never see any of my family and friends again. I already would never see my daddy again. I did not think I could stand that. The things I had to do with sherf I will not mention here. If I were to do so, you would be sad for me. You would not be able to forget and I wouldn't want that. It is bad enough that I did them and cannot forget. But do not feel bad for me because I know one day I can get away from sherf and have my own gun.

        Yesterday cousin Georgie and I went to the sporting goods store. I gave him my money and he bought me an air rifle. He is eighteen so he could sign for it. Momma doesn't know and neither does sherf. I took it to the ball field behind the school and practiced. It was much more powerful than sherf's it had a velocity of six-hundred and twenty-four feet-per-second. It was a Crosman. I bought it because of those things and because it could shoot bbs soft lead pellets too. The pellets were more expensive, but I did not intend on wasting ammunition.

        I had gone through a lot and waited long enough. I had my own gun now.

        I went to sherf's house. He was mad at me for being late. I had my rifle behind my back as he opened the screen door then turned and went into his bedroom. The screen door slammed behind me as I heard him yell "since you were late today, you're gonna have to mow the lawn tomorrow as well as the gutters. Now get in here. You kept me waiting too long already."

I had already loaded the pellet and pumped my rifle before I set foot on the property. Ten pumps meant I had one shot. I walked in and took aim.

        Sherf had a look of surprise as he yelled "where'd you get that gun, son?" I took careful aim as he said "that ain't one of mine."

        "Yeah, I know. It's mine" I said as I inhaled and pulled the trigger.

        I have told you that I was a good shot, today was no different. As far as what I swore to after the rabbit, well this was not a daisy, it was a Crosman.

        Sherf ended up moving after he got out of the hospital. The talk of the town is after some kind of blood poisoning, he had to have some kind of amputation, whatever that means.

This came in by email:


It was Ben’s idea. He said he knew a place. He’d been watching it for weeks. It was a short ways above the town. A knot of trees there with their black fingers clawing the sky and thousands of red-winged blackbirds roosted there. Be like shooting fish in a barrel, Ben said.

We set out under the cover of Friday night. No moon was in the sky, just rolling clouds and a scowling dark. There was Ben and Fritz and Tilly and me. We slipped over back fences, quiet as shadows and as quick, not daring to step into the street out front where the yellow of the streetlights made pools of brightness. Ben led the way and he brought us after him with whispers and his free hand tugging at our sleeves if we lagged behind.

Up out of the town we crept, till we were clear of the houses and there was no more need for quiet. Tilly dared to ask why we were doing this. Said it seemed silly somehow. Pointless. Well, Ben threw a hissing fit then. Said she was just a girl and she could go back if she was scared. Tilly said it wasn’t that. Then Ben told her to ‘fuck off’, punching the air with the words. I laughed. I shouldn’t have, but Ben saying those words, it seemed kind of silly. Like they didn’t fit. Like he was playing at being bigger than he was.

We might have stood there all night, except Fritz spoke then. He said there was a storm coming and we’d better get a move on. He was right, too. The wind was picking up, carrying the moans of dead soldiers on the air – that’s what my mom would say if she was there. I don’t know why she said that.

So, we pressed on and walked a while in silence again, feeling the wind pushing us forwards, and the sky seeming to fall on our heads. I thought of Chicken Licken and I laughed again, to myself this time.

It was just as Ben had described when we got there, except the noise of the trees as they thrashed about, the crack of their trunks and the click and click of their fingers. Ben said we should load up and we’d fire on his count. Just fire into the air, he said, into the trees above our heads. We’d be sure to hit something. There were thousands of them, the trees seeming to be full-leafed when they were really winter-bare.

Like fish in a barrel, Ben said again. And I was with Tilly and what she’d said before and not really knowing why we were there doing what we were doing.

Sudeenly there was a jagged blue white flash of lightning and we fired into the sky, and one or two birds fell heavy in the dark around us, and thunder rolled over us grumbling and groaning. We reloaded several times and got off several more shots before the rain began falling. Great gobs of rain mixed with stinging hail and the air cold as clouds. Then there was a new sound, a beating sound, the noise of a thousand thousand feet scuffing out of church, and it was like the air was being sucked from where we were, and Tilly screamed, and Ben said fuck again and this time I did not laugh.

We ran all the way back to town, as fast as running could in the dark of that breathless night, as fast as running could through the knotted dead grass and the dry tangle of fallen ferns. And when we got back to where we had begun, our chests sore and our legs sore, too, well, the strangest thing happened then. I don’t have an explanation for this and I ain’t told no one about it, except it’s in the news and everybody’s talking about it. But suddenly there were things falling out of the storm-laden sky, small parcels of feathers and bones, red-winged blackbirds with their wings folded and they fell onto the roofs of houses and the bonnets of cars and onto the yellow-bright grass lawns out front. The newsman on Saturday said there were a thousand dead birds all over the town. They fell everywhere. We were finding them for days afterwards. I looked at Ben at school on the Monday and he put one finger across his lips and he did the same with Tilly and with Fritz. I don’t know what we done. We maybe fired off a dozen shots between us and now there’s four thousand blackbirds reported dead in Beebe, Arkansas, and people are looking for an explanation and finding none. I just don't know.
This came in by e-mail:

BB, not normal they said. A look in him that was dark. His hair cut crooked and one corner of his mouth pulled so that his smile was never straight. There was a devil in him, they said. Afterwards they said it. After what he done, even those that didn’t say it, they all thought it. All ‘ceptin Daisy. She said it was a sin against God to talk of the boy in that way. It weren’t his fault, she said. It was the fault of his momma, and when Daisy said it the congregation after church all nodded and were ashamed and felt bad for the boy.
She done this to him, said Daisy. His momma made him what he is, and he done what he done without knowing what it was.

BB’s momma was a woman who entertained men for money. That’s what they said. Dancin and drinkin and whorin. That’s what they said was goin on behind the curtains of her house, lights burnin late into the night and music playin and drunken voices raised in somethin like song, and BB left to fend for hisself. And it was old ma Haggerty that took him in some nights and gave him a hot meal and a place to sleep. She washed his shirts too, and cut his hair best as she could, and taught him to read nights, and then he went and done what he done.

No one was sure who the boy’s pa was. Could have been a whole string of men. Why even Mr Correll, the mayor, had been seen leavin her late-night house in the months before the boy was born. And Mr Matthews, the school teacher, too, and even Squint the beggar who sits on the corner of main street with his tin cup rattling for pennies. I been myself once, when I was somewheres between bein a boy and a man and a few dollars in my pocket and a drink on me. I don’t know as how it was for the others, but she took my money and held my hand and let me kiss her and that was all.

And we is all to blame, Daisy said, and when she said it I thought maybe she was right and I tried to think of the part I had played in what happened, the few dollars I had given over to the boy’s momma. Who’s to say that wasn’t the few dollars that she bought the gun with? Just a few dollars and maybe they was my dollars.

I saw him sometimes, BB shootin tin cans off a fence, sendin them spinning in the air, the crack and crack of the gun and the clatter of the can, like a dull bell. He shot a bird once. A red-winged blackbird it was. Shot it mid song. Hung the dead bird like a pretty trophy on the fence, its wings spread wide so you could see the red and yellow and black of the feathers. Old ma Haggerty tried to teach him right from wrong, gave him a whippin, and she took him to church after the shootin of the bird and he knelt on the stone step at the front, prayin, and he did not get up again until the church was emptyin. Made no difference. He was back shootin cans on the Monday, and he put one in the butt of Squint’s mongrel cur and nothing was said about that.

Kids at school gave him a hard time some days. Kids is kids, you know. But thinkin back somethin shouldda been done. He was in scrapes with boys bigger than him, all the time he was, and he spat and kicked like a wildcat, no controllin him, and old ma Haggerty wiped the blood from his nose when he came home cryin and she put ice on his swollen cheek or his eye. And she went up to the school some days, doin what a mother oughtta do. But kids is kids, and they didn’t leave him alone. They'll leave him be now though.

BB, maybe a devil in him, maybe his mother to blame for what he did, maybe we all to blame like Daisy said. He took his gun last Friday and he went to school and he shot up the place, and Mr Matthews lost an eye, and two girls in crumpled dresses lay bleedin, and a boy that had said something bad about BB’s momma he was dead. And afterwards a deathly hush over the town, and not even the birds had songs, it seemed. And we all thought bad things about the boy, at first we did, and it took Daisy sayin after church that we is all to blame for us to think different, and maybe we is to blame, for turnin a blind eye like we did.


  1. I love the pictures that you have put with these stories. Brilliant. Like they were made for the stories. Thanks. Makes the words just sing.


  2. Mr. Matthews is the one gonna be turnin' a blind eye, y'ask me...
    Great stories. nice imagery in both boosted by the paintings. cool. That's some stiff-ass competition.

  3. Thanks, Patrick, for reading and for commenting, and commenting so positively. I have just read your piece... neat. I hated 'Sherf' so much and he felt so real and I wanted the boy to shoot him,.. and I am a confirmed pacifist, so that speaks to the power in what you wrote. Great stuff.

  4. There were two authors entries this week. Dee Turbon and Patrick Nelson and both of them were very good.

    Both Patrick and Dee's stories had a strong sense of place and strong dialog that expanded on the image of the main character. I liked how Dee's stories both worked with the image and also expanded beyond it to even current events. (There was an incident in which hundreds of black birds died inexplicably here in the US a while back and Dee makes reference to that.)

    Nelson's story won mainly because it had the strongest punch and a real sense of humor about something which is very dark subject. I like the whole "come up-pence" aspect of it.

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