The Believers

by Aaron Rudolph

Inspired by: “Killed Myself When I Was Young”, A.A. Bondy, American Hearts (2007)

Four high school boys stuffed
into a hatchback are never four physicists
theorizing the precise weight of the planet.
Every now and then I’d get the call
to join the tough crowd, and some nights
we’d cruise town and pretend
we weren’t blushing at girls in passing cars.

We found ways of marveling
at the unknown. Mario pulled a gun
from his jacket and raised it over
his head. The driver, his cousin,
even turned back. Everyone but me put out a hand
to feel the metal, the power in touching
the weapon, wonder if strength could transfer
from inanimate object to skin.Then, Mario turned the gun my way
offering it like food. Did refusal
mean starvation? I felt the gun’s warmth,
the moonlight reflecting on its barrel. Holding
it, I was sure that the world had shrunk
and was compressing inward
and I couldn’t escape. The planet
was a deflating ball and we were trapped
inside, feeling each thrust of escaping air.

Taking the gun back, Mario pushed his hand
out the open window, He fired three rounds,
light bursts flashing upward. The guys
turned sitting-in-church quiet. We stopped
under a bridge a few miles from town. Before
heading back, we caught our breath
and looked once more at the gun
in Mario’s palm. Then he passed it around
again, bread for the hungry, the believers.

Aaron Rudolph is the author of Sacred Things (Bridge Burners Publishing, 2002). He also has poems in the anthologies Two Southwests (VAC, 2008) and Ain’t Nobody That Can Sing Like Me: New Oklahoma Writing (Mongrel Empire Press, 2010). Currently, he serves as editor for Cuento Magazine, a Twitter magazine for micro writing.