"Dad, a man shot his sister in the head over a bag of ice." This knowledge chilled us to the core as we loaded the truck with supplies for the journey.
As we drove along in the impenetrable September night towards the unknown, my father told me:
"Son, if someone wants to harm us, and we have to open fire, always start with the one on the left and work your way to the right; that way, you are working towards your dominant hand, range, and comfort zone--which means better accuracy, if needed . I will take out the second one on the left. If I say 'fire,' drop to a knee and aim the shotgun at his stomach. Whether or not the shot stops him, move on to the next person. If I get hit, finish the others, then attend to me. Govern your emotions, ignore your fear; there's no time to fear in a firefight. Let's pray we don't have to even load our guns." (We said a prayer before leaving.)
No cars, No cops, no lights, no moon, just littered roadways, crushed vehicles, the intense and omnipresent smell of fallen pines, and the taste of metal (fear) in my mouth. I leaned my head against the hot glass as the Explorer hurtled through the splintered forests of eastern Mississippi, imagining how I would react if someone wanted to kill me. "Could I kill someone?" I asked myself. "Yes," I answered, "without hesitation," as I tried to steel myself against an imagined enemy, against the never-before-considered proximate possibility of battle.
A shooting star burned out above us, as I stared up at the night sky.