I lifted the rifle again and swung the tip of the barrel
straight up into the air. I figured I could gradually lower
the barrel at the screen, aim, and pick off one of the
Japa nese troops. With all my strength I slowly lowered
the barrel and held it steady enough to finally get the
ball centered inside the V, and when I saw a tiny Japanese
soldier leap out of a bush I quickly pulled the trigger
and let him have it.
BLAM! The rifle fired off and violently kicked out of
my grip. It flipped into the air before clattering down
across the picnic table and sliding onto the ground.
"Oh sweet cheeze-us!" I wailed, and dropped butt-first
onto the table. "Ohhh! Cheeze-us-crust!" I didn't know
the rifle was loaded. I hadn't put a shell in the chamber.
My ears were ringing like air raid warnings. I tried to
stand but was too dizzy and flopped over. "This is bad.
This is bad," I whispered over and over as I desperately
gripped the tabletop.
"Jaaaack!" I heard my mother shriek and then the
screen door slammed behind her.
"If I'm not already dead I soon will be," I said to
She sprinted across the grass and mashed through
a bed of peonies and lunged toward me like a crazed
animal. Before I could drop down and hide under the
picnic table she pounced on me. "Oh... my... God!"
she panted, and grabbed at my body as I tried to wiggle
away. "Oh dear Lord! There's blood! You've been shot!
Where?" Then she gasped and pointed directly at my
face. Her eyes bugged out and her scream was so highpitched
it was silent.
I tasted blood. "Oh cheeze!" I shouted. "I've been
shot in the mouth!"
With the dish towel still clutched in her hand she
pressed it against my forehead.
"Am I dying?" I blubbered. "Is there a hole in my
head? Am I breathing?"
I felt her roughly wiping my face while trying to
get a clear look at my wound. "Oh, good grief," she
suddenly groaned, and flung her bloodied arms down
to her side.
"What?" I asked desperately. "Am I too hurt to be
"It's just your nose problem!" she said, exasperated.
"Your dang bloody nose!" Then she pressed the towel
to my face again. "Hold it there tightly," she instructed,
"I'll go get another one."
She stomped back toward the house, and I sat there
for a few torturous minutes with one hand pressing the
towel against my nose and breathed deeply through my
mouth. Even through the blood I could smell the flinty
gunpowder from the bullet. Dad is going to kill me, I
thought. He'll court-martial me and sentence me to
death by firing squad. Before I could fully imagine the
tragic end of my life I heard an ambulance wailing
up the Norvelt road. It took a turn directly into Miss
Volker's driveway and stopped. The driver jumped out
and sprinted toward her house and jerked open the
That's not good, I thought and turned cold all over.
If I shot Miss Volker through the head Mom will never
believe it was an accident. She'll think I was just trying
to get out of going to her house in the morning.
I lowered myself down onto the picnic bench and
then onto the grass which was slippery from my blood.
I trotted across the yard to our screen door. I was still
bleeding so I stood outside and dripped on the doormat.
Please, please, please, don't let me have shot her,
I thought over and over. I knew I had to say something
to Mom, so I gathered up a little courage and as casually
as possible said, "Um, there happens to be an ambulance
at Miss Volker's house."
But Mom was a step ahead of me. "Don't worry,"
she said right back. "I just now called down there. She's
fine. You didn't shoot her if that is what you are thinking."
"I was," I admitted. "I thought I shot her dead!"
"It wasn't that," she said, now frowning at me from
the other side of the door. "The shock from hearing the
rifle go off caused her to drop her hearing aid down the
toilet - I guess she had it turned up too high."
Research shows that 90% of Americans value public libraries(Dec 11 2013) According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, about 90% of Americans aged 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an...