Catch-22 by
(98 Stories)

Prompted By Guns Then and Now

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

There’s a gun in a case near Garth’s side of the bed. It looks mean. I’m afraid to touch it let alone pick it up.

I thought I’d use the excuse of this prompt to face my fear, hold the gun, learn how to load it, even go to a shooting range and learn to use it. I didn’t do any of that.

I’ll never hunt, don’t think I could shoot a person. Not even a robber.

But if they were hurting my husband, or my dog, or coming at me, I would shoot them!

Once I figured out how.


100 words / RetroFlash


Profile photo of Barbara Buckles Barbara Buckles
Artist, writer, storyteller, spy. Okay, not a spy…I was just going for the rhythm.

I call myself “an inveterate dabbler.” (And my husband calls me “an invertebrate babbler.”) I just love to create one way or another. My latest passion is telling true stories live, on stage. Because it scares the hell out of me.

As a memoirist, I focus on the undercurrents. Drawing from memory, diaries, notes, letters and photographs, I never ever lie, but I do claim creative license when fleshing out actual events in order to enhance the literary quality, i.e., what I might have been wearing, what might have been on the table, what season it might have been. By virtue of its genre, memoir also adds a patina of introspection and insight that most probably did not exist in real time.

Visit Author's Website

Characterizations: moving, right on!, well written


  1. Bebe, you’ve Flashed us with a common dilemma I’m sure, if I had a gun and had due cause to use it, would I dare?
    I don’t know!!

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    In a war, guns as defense might be necessary. In most people’s homes, they are more likely to cause the inhabitants harm than protect. And are we really at war? I relate to your mixed feelings—I was encouraged to learn how to shoot a handgun in a class and at a shooting range, but didn’t find it a sport, never used the thing, couldn’t remember how, and gladly left it behind when we moved to Canada.

  3. Jeff Gerken says:

    I do know how to use a gun, although I don’t own one. If I did own one, and was confronted with a person who intended to harm someone else, I would not be afraid to use it. But that’s a moot point since I don’t own one.

  4. Marian says:

    You’ve perfectly captured this Catch-22, Barb. I’d be more inclined to use a gun to protect someone else, but don’t want to own one, thus avoid this serious dilemma.

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    Interesting Flash, Barb. Such a dilemma. But as Khati points out, having a gun in one’s home is more likely to lead to the harm of the owner than actual self-protection. Like you, I am afraid to even touch a gun. I feel for your Catch 22.

    • It is indeed a dilemma, Betsy, although, as in our case, when you remove the element of young children or teens in the home and add the element of proper storage and securing, the owner-harm issue is greatly reduced. I would NOT have a gun in the house if those elements were reversed!

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    This is a great RetroFlash and the image is quite compelling. Like you, I would never touch a gun like that. More often that not, the gun ends up harming you rather than a dangerous intruder.

    • Thanks, Laurie. That certainly does happen, and often by accident. When I was a young teen, one of our fellow students was “playing” with a gun with his younger brother who was killed when it accidentally fired. I can’t begin to imagine the repercussions within that family.

  7. Suzy says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this RetroFlash, Barb. I know you were unsure about it, but it’s very powerful. I like the warning on the case, “never put a loaded gun in this case.” But I wonder, if someone were threatening you, would there be time to take it out of the case and load it before the bad guy acted?

    • Thanks so much, Suzy. Of course it all depends on the circumstance, but it’s not likely that it would be me in that position. But let’s say I’m alone and I wake up and hear someone in another part of the house, see the beam of a flashlight. Theoretically, I would have time. Would I do it? I don’t know. Let’s hope I never have to find out. Personally, I have always felt I could talk someone out of doing me harm, and might have even done so (see my Laurel Canyon story). But I also know for a fact that that’s not always possible.

  8. John Shutkin says:

    As others have noted, Barb, you really pose a tough dilemma for all of us gun hatters — at least those of us who also have protective instincts to our loved ones. And your title is perfect.

    Here’s an amateur hint as to how to shoot a gun. Triggers are pretty obvious. But almost all guns also have “safeties” on them. So figuring out the where and the how of the safety is the key. But even more important is the hope that you never have to use the gun.

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful response, John! Here’s the thing: in preparation for this story, I asked my husband to show me the gun so I could take a photo of it. The minute he opened the case, I started to panic. He even picked the thing up and then I really freaked out, crying “Put it away, put it away!” So I’m not at all sure I could use it, even for protection…but it does make me feel secure that he could. Kind of.

  9. As Khati observed too many times a homeowner’s gun ends up hurting someone in the household. When I lived in the Adirondacks most folks had a gun or two. Long guns exclusively. They’d swap stories about their arsenals and what would be most effective against an intruder. One asked me what I used. “A 34”, I replied. “Huh? What’s that?” A 34 oz baseball bat.

    • Good solution. In my case, since I’m such a lightweight, I’m not sure I’d have much success against an intruder wielding a baseball bat, a knife, or a bow and arrow. And of course any of which could be turned against me. I’m doomed.

  10. You’ve captured an essential part of gun ownership to me: now that I have it, would I use it? I briefly had a shotgun in the kitchen of my Colorado mountain home; I found its presence confusing.

Leave a Reply