The Barrel– by Victor Moore

Disclaimer: All characters are created by me.

A barrel. A gray metal barrel. With a cylinder at the end. I even notice the scratches on the bullets in the cylindrical chamber. It's funny y'know. I'm so scared because this is the end of my life, and yet I note the scratches with absurd clarity.

The owner of the gun is screaming at me, his spittle ramming my face, in some strange language that I'll never understand. With a coppery taste in my mouth, I whisper a prayer to a god I gave up on long ago. A blow to the side of the head answers me so hard, I can name each of the stars that obscure my vision and give you their statistics. A furnace of words assaults my face so closely I can hear the muscles in his jaw working overtime. And then, the barrel is back, pressed deep into my forehead.

The ironic thing about the situation is that my first memory also consists of a metal barrel. Well a pipe actually. I was seven and saw the pipe my older brother was holding just inches away, the hollow end splattered with blood and some chunks of flesh attached to it. Mom told me that she had taken us to see 'Star Wars' and afterwards my brother and I had found some pipes and were re-enacting the lightsaber duel, until he accidentally hit me in the head. I believe her, for all memory before that time is gone. I even had to re-learn the names of my friends and classmates.

School was a weird experience. In the third grade, I had to perform in the school play. I was so nervous, I peed my pants on stage in front of all those people. I never got into a fight until my junior year, for my brother always protected me back then. Elisabeth, a girl I liked but never had the courage to tell her, got into trouble with some boys, who wouldn't take no for an answer. I tried to protect her, but failed miserably, and ended up in a full body cast. I never saw her again, but was told when I returned to school a month later that she had committed suicide. I pointed the boys out to the police and never saw them again too.

My first kiss was a magical moment. Mariko my co-worker at the restaurant I slaved for during college kissed me under the mistletoe. We shared many more until we found out weeks later that we were better friends than lovers.

I helped my mom thru our time of grief when my brother passed away. I wanted to believe so badly that he died saving a school bus full of children or some other heroic deed that I always associate with him, because to see him just waste away on a hospital bed hurt too much. Mom never stopped crying every time I saw her. And she had to tell the doctors to pull the plug. It took two long and painful years for her to let him go, and get on with life.

Last year I met my fiancée, Lara. She's smart, funny, and beautiful. Now I can't think of a day without her. She told me that she had some wonderful news to tell me. We're supposed to talk about it tonight over some dinner, after I visit my mom at my brother's grave.

So here I am with a bouquet of lilies and roses in my arms, with a gun pointed at my head, and a madman screaming at me, because I unknowingly interrupted a hold-up. A small chuckle escapes me. I guess it's true; your life really does flash before your eyes. I can feel the heated stare he throws at me and hear the creaking bones in his finger. I hope mom doesn't break down after I'm gone.

I wonder what news Lara had to --