The War by Lisa McCormack


Uncle Carl could drink his beers, and he could be hardheaded when he did, but he was never mean-spirited. That’s why we all sided with Uncle Carl, when, after about four of those beers and a shouting match with Rory, he picked up his shotgun and pumped a load of buckshot into Rory’s skinny ass just as Rory reached for the door of his yellow corvette.

Rory hopped around in the dirt like a sick chicken, while me and Aunt Polly stood on the porch watching with our mouths open as big as baby robins about to be fed.

We knew Carl did it for Rory’s own good. I don’t think he would have shot me. He figured Rory is a boy and a boy can take the pain. That’s the way Uncle Carl thinks. It’s old-fashioned, but you can’t change Carl. He needed to stop Rory from doing what he was going to do, and a shotgun was the only way. It worked too.

Rory hollered out a string of cuss words, holding his left buttock with both hands and staggering back toward the porch. Uncle Carl stared him in the face so close they saw the whites of each other’s eyes.

“I’ll kill you for this old man,” Rory hissed.

Carl just leaned his shotgun against the porch, walked inside and called 911.

“We got us a little accident down on Meek’s Road,” he told 911. “My nephew’s got some buckshot in him.” A long silence follows. “Naw he’s not in big danger but somebody ought to look at it…”

Several minutes later the ambulance men arrive, and put Rory in. He’s still cussing a storm, neck veins bulging, yelling for Uncle Carl to be arrested for murder. That made me and Carl laugh.. Murder! If Carl wanted to kill Rory he sure could have… a few feet higher and more to the center would have done it. Carl didn’t want to kill Rory, just teach him a lesson.

“You oughten to have done that Carl,” Aunt Polly offered. She always was the calm voice of reason around the farm. “ You can’t just go shooting people to get them to listen to you.”

Aunt Polly had eased into the living room from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron, when Carl and Rory started arguing. She had been cooking chicken for dinner, and turned the stove off as the commotion started.


On TV they were just getting ready to announce the 60 Minutes segments, which me and Carl like. Polly walked in and saw the whole shouting match, same as me.

Rory wanted some money. Uncle Carl said “no.” His billfold was right on the table by his chair, and both of them were eying it. But Rory is young and got to it quicker. He grabbed the billfold and left, calling Uncle Carl an old fool and some other things. He knew Uncle Carl had traded cattle today and the wallet was fat.

It had been a good year for cattle trading. Carl was getting rich by farm standards. He said he owed it all to the Republicans. He loved Mr. Reagan, and now George H. Bush. Polly was a democrat, but she kept quiet about it because but she liked the cattle money too.

If Carl could have been one second quicker that night and grabbed Rory, my brother would have been down on his knees in the grips of Carl’s pressure point thumb defense. Nobody can get out of that one. It twists your arm around and you are on both knees begging him to let you up.

But Carl is in his 60s now, no match for the wiry Rory, who sprung down those porch steps with the wallet like he was hot stuff. Then his ass got hot. I’ve never seen Rory so mad and surprised at the same time. I’ve never seen Carl so steely and cool.

“I had to do that Polly,” he said once the ambulance left and the farm went back to its natural quiet sounds of cows mooing far away and crickets ticking.

I walked down the porch steps and picked up the leather wallet, laying there in the dirt like a black rock, all fat with money, and handed it to Carl. He dusted it off and tucked it in his front overall pocket.

“He was after drug money, Polly. I can’t let him do that no more.”

“ I’ve been listening to Mr Bush,” Carl said. “I know,” Polly said. “We are in a war on drugs.” We all nodded, and turned to go inside, catch the last of 60 Minutes and wait for the chicken to fry.

Lisa McCormack lives by a lake in Tennessee with her husband and two cats. Her yard is filld with trees, geese, ducks and turtles because nature inspires writing. Some unknown force brought her to Litreactor, and now to this site. She has one son in college in Denver ans she works in the publishing industry but not as a writer. She is a blue girl in a red state.


1 thought on “The War by Lisa McCormack

  1. Pingback: A pair of quick and dirty flashers! | Solarcide: a writers hideout.

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