I was 11 years old.
“Randell!” my dad yells after his day at work. This day was different though. “Come outside, will ya?”
“Yes Sir” I grab my thick raccoon fur coat and run outside. The cold, thin, Colorado, November air scraping the inside of my nostrils.
“Come here.” Dad says, muffled through a freshly lit cigarette. He pats the spot next to where he’s sitting on the back of our wooden wagon he uses to carry the carcasses of the dead game he catches. My dad was a fur tradesman. He once came back with a dead bear bigger than Whiskey, my father’s biggest stallion, in the wagon. I hop up next to him on the wagon. “Listen boy. You’re gonna be a man soon and you're going to realize that the world is an evil place.” He sighs. “You’ll have to learn how to defend the things that are most important to us.” He pulled out a blanket wrapped object and laid it on my lap. It’s heavy and long. I look at the object then look back at my dad. “Well, come on now” He says. I peel the blanket off slowly. Revealing first a barrel then the lever and the trigger and finally the glossy wood stock.
“Woah!” I exclaim with a grin ear to ear. My dad hops up and jogs inside. A moment later he comes out with a rifle of his own and boxes of ammunition. He promptly throws them in his satchel and starts walking to the brink between our house and the forest. He gets to the tree line then looks back and waves for me to follow. I run to catch up.
“Watch.” He starts loading his rifle as we walk. When he finishes he hands me the box of ammunition and says “your turn.” my dad stops me “Be quiet.” He looks deep into the forest. That's when the war cries echo through the once solemn forest. “Fucking Injuns! Run Randell! Go find the sheriff.” I’m frozen. He pushes me and the ammunition flies out of my hand. “GO BOY!” I grab the rifle off the ground and sprint back towards the house. The ring of the dad’s rifle pierces my ears.
When they went back they found him scalped with his eyelids cut off. 10 years later, the memory still haunts me.