UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION
LARKE G. SCHULDBERG
It lay on the table between them. It was sort of dull in sheen, and black. He
Finally, she reached out and picked up the gun and brought it to her flushed
“Can I touch it?”
She opened her eyes and placed into his open palms. It was warm from her cheek
“It’s not loaded is it?”
She shook her head no and he picked it up again. Felt how the smoothness of the
“It’s not good for it though,” she said, “to dry fire it.”
He sheepishly lowered the gun. Set it on the table. Put his hands in his lap.
She placed the single bullet next to the gun. But she didn’t sit.
He stared at her. He had always stared at her and never known what to say. Why
“So what do we do?” he gulped.
She picked up the gun and spun the chamber. The bullet sat on the table between
“Here’s how this works,” she said. “You point the gun at me. Pull the trigger.
“And that’s it?”
“You used to play this with Phil?”
Her smile disappeared.
“I thought Phil…” his voice trailed off, he looked at the gun held jauntily in her
“Phil died from lung cancer.”
“Oh okay, I just, I thought, maybe, you know…”
He could feel every molecule of air he breathed in, and every one he breathed out.
“Here,” she said, and stood up. She pulled her chair around to his side of the
“Do the same.”
He placed his hands over her heart at the place where her chest plate turned soft.
“Oh my god.”
He thought about the first time he had seen Phil’s wife, tall, blond, gorgeous,
But here she was tap tapping away at his hands so completely, vibrantly alive on
She leaned back and he reluctantly did the same. But his hands were still on fire.
“They say you cheated on Phil. A lot.”
She leaned forward and placed her hands on his knees. She looked up into his eyes.
“You don’t have to make conversation.”
“I’m not, I just, do you do this with everyone?”
“No, you’re the first. Well Phil. But he doesn’t count.”
He looked down at the bullet. She closed her hands around his and squeezed. He
“I never cheated on Phil. People think I married him for his money. And when they
Her voice trailed off, she let go of his hands.
“Because, at the funeral, you came up to me and didn’t say, ‘oh what a shame.’ Or
He open his hands. The bullet stuck to him. He picked it up with his other hand
“And I asked you how well you knew Phil and you said, ‘I don’t know.’”
“I don’t know.”
The bullet was smooth, without sharp, defining ridges. He held it up to the light.
She handed him the gun.
He took it and spun weakly. Stopped it too quickly. Spun again this time with
But she shook her head.
“No. I go first.”
He leaned back and looked down. So black.
“Why do you do this?”
“Why does anybody do anything?”
He looked at her. Sharply. And she smiled.
“Because sometimes I’m standing on my balcony, or I’m waiting for the subway
“It’s like this force that takes over me and clogs my lungs and I can’t breathe and
She pressed the gun deeper into her chest and he watched the skin turn white
“Pull the trigger Will. Pull the trigger for 9-11 and Bush, and Iraq and my cousin
She threw her arms out. Without her hands he could see the gun shaking against her
“Pull the trigger for Katrina and forest fires and Sudan. Pull the trigger for beggars
Her heart was straining. Her lungs heaving. Her chest damp. His hands quaking.
“Pull the trigger for Phil because we are all going to die, this all ends, and we
His finger tightened. In slow motion he watched the chamber roll. The hammer
“Pull the trigger,” she whispered.
She was panting. The gun stayed against her chest. He didn’t think he could move.
She was panting, and he could see the tap tap of her heart pushing the gun out
He looked down at his lap, and realized his pants were wet.
“And now,” she breathed, “it goes away. And I know, that at least for now, I’m
He fell back and the gun lay in his lap. She sniffled, got up, and pulled out some
“I don’t want to do this, Gillian.”
She watched him from the other side of the table.
“I know. Neither could Phil.”
“But, if you ever need me. Again...”
She smiled at him. Beautiful.
“I know your number.”Larke Schuldberg is a playwright originally from Missoula, Montana though now living in
New York city. He is currently persuing a BFA in Playwriting at NYU.
© 2007 Underground Voices