Bull's Eye 

(Bulls Eye, Manchester Avenue in South St. Louis)

In front of you is a paper target, a human silhouette already punched full of holes. You point the big handgun and timidly squeeze off a couple of rounds. Practice shots. The gun kicks, goes boom. Nothing happens to the target -- not even a ripple. After several rounds, you still can't tell where your bullets are going. You ask Burt and Steve if they can. They're standing behind you, amiable, arms folded, thoroughly entertained. And yes, they can. "Am I even hitting the target?" you ask. It seems a silly question to ask these guys; Steve even shoots with one hand, like a seasoned gumshoe. But you can't tell. They nod yes: The bullets you're expelling from this firearm are indeed moving forward and not backward or straight up.

Confidently now, more booms discharge. The activity quickly becomes fun. The scary fact is that you warm up to the weapon just after you lose respect for it -- if fear and respect have anything in common, that is. Still, you can't shake the thought that these bullets are somehow burrowing into your own head -- that by some bizarre chance there'll be a ricochet and you'll never know what hit you.

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