The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed my dad, Wayne, about his childhood and growing up in West Orange, NJ. The story I decided to share came from when I asked him to tell me about one of the scariest moments in his life. He told me how he accidentally shot his friend in the face with a BB gun. Paramedics came to the rescue and somehow there was no damage - although they did investigate, and attempt to arrest, my dad for shooting someone in the face. Thankfully he shot his best friend who covered for him and insisted it was an accident when it came time for questioning.

“Click… BANG!”

Ricky’s head whipped around faster than Wayne had ever seen him move. Wayne maintains his gaze on his buddy from across the half-finished bedroom/basement of Ricky’s family home. Ricky’s 15-year-old, beady brown eyes viciously glared with annoyance as they darted over to meet Wayne’s smirk.

“Would you STOP playing around with that?!” Ricky snaps.

Took him long enough…” Wayne smugly thinks to himself after successfully annoying his friend to insanity; he’s achieved every teenage boy’s goal. He wonders, “Let’s see how long before he really loses it...”

Without responding to his frazzled friend, Wayne loads up the BB gun, his fake weapon of choice, for another round of their nonsensical “game”. There was even a name for it: How-close-can-we-get-to-shooting-each-other-in-the-head-with-a-BB-gun-without-actually-shooting-each-other-in-the-head. Truth be told, the name could’ve used a little work.

Wayne and Ricky partook in their stupidly dangerous teenage games every Friday after school let out. But this Friday, Ricky’s head wasn’t in it. He was frantically throwing his mountain-sized pile of clothes underneath his bed before his mom got home. So, Wayne took the opportunity to score a point while his friend was distracted, because what else was there to do in downtown West Orange, New Jersey in the 1970s?

Ricky retires his annoyed glare toward Wayne and turns back around to continue hiding his endless laundry.

“click… BANG!” The BB gun fires across the room at lightspeed, past Ricky’s, ducked head, and right into the center of the fish tank. Wayne stares from afar, as he trembles over the possibility of the aquarium-sized fish tank shattering.

“What the f–“ The damaging noise brings Ricky to shoot his head back up to check the damage, just in time for the bullet to ricochet off of the tank and directly at his face. He immediately crashes down to the ground in pain, as the dark-green carpet of the basement floor cushions his body weight.

Screams fill the room.

Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod” Wayne mumbles under his breath as he sprints across the basement to check the damage. He looks down to his feet to see Ricky sprawled across the ground, immobilized from pain, with a BB bullet lodged right under his eye and right above his cheekbone.

Wayne figured looking down at Ricky’s jacked up face in complete fear would probably scare the kid more, so he took a shot in the dark and tried to lighten the mood, “… And we thought your mom was gonna be pissed about the clothes…” He peers down at Ricky to check out his likely, and understandably, furious reaction.

But he’s laughing; Ricky’s giggling through the pain like some maniac.

“At least we didn’t break that fish tank."

A Scary Moment

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1972
Ricky's Bedroom - West Orange, NJ

I interviewed my dad, Wayne, about his childhood and growing up in West Orange, NJ. The story I decided to share came from when I asked him to tell me about one of the scariest moments in his life. He told me how he accidentally shot his friend in the face with a BB gun. Paramedics came to the rescue and somehow there was no damage - although they did investigate, and attempt to arrest, my dad for shooting someone in the face. Thankfully he shot his best friend who covered for him and insisted it was an accident when it came time for questioning.

Decade: 1970s
Rating:
Recorded by Paige Trezza on April 27, 2020
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