The Day I Almost Shot My Father


Who hasn't wanted to hurt someone when they're angry? James Luria recounts at Slate the day he almost shot the man who raised him but had the foresight to make a different decision.

So, I left the kitchen, too angry and ashamed and frustrated to cry (what good is crying if there's no one around to fix it?), went to the unlocked gun cabinet, where my father stored the shotguns he kept for bird hunting (more an aspirational than actual pastime), and then to the drawer in the sideboard, and took out the waxy shells (so satisfying to handle!), slid them into the lovely twin chambers, gleaming inside and redolent with the scent of gunpowder, slammed it shut, and started down the hallway.

And then, about midway down the hallway, something amazing happened. I imagined, for a moment, what would happen after I'd shot my father: the silence after detonation; the image of his bloody body; police standing around in the study, their hard, maybe sorrowful eyes on me; lawyers and social workers and judges and courtrooms, and then what? Off to someplace where kids who do things like that go? And who were those kids? No doubt they were bigger and badder than me, less bookish, probably practiced at violence. I'd be sent to a land of nothing but Chucks, no books, no encouraging teachers, no bike rides through the suburbs, no Wonder Woman or Bugs Bunny. In short, the end of whatever pleasures and safety my life afforded me, and a descent into a life I knew I didn't want and couldn't possibly handle.

I had stopped walking. I did a quick, brutal assessment of myself, of my capacities, gifts and deficits, and decided that there was only one possible course of action: I had to do well at school. “Kids like me,” I remember thinking, “kids like me have to get good grades in school.” Then I returned the gun to the cabinet.


Read James Luria's entire piece at Slate.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff. 


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