I STOLE MY brother’s pellet rifle when I was 6 because it was an upgrade from our old lever-action BB gun. I just wanted to hold it, to feel its heft.
I put a single pellet from a plastic tray in the chamber, the same way I had seen him do it, set the tray on the ground and cocked the gun with a click and a click. I pumped the forestock until the gun felt air-filled and lethal.
I wondered if it would hurt my shoulder. The kickback.
I leaned my head toward the barrel and closed one eye and leveled the gun at the thick canopy of a crab apple tree growing too close to the barn. The gun gave a swift exhale, and the pellet thwacked into the branches.
A second later, a red-breasted robin tumbled from the tree.