Bleak and dreary, a midwinter morning, everything gone over and grey, dead, lost to the cold. A couple shovels snow outside of their house.

“Hey,” the neighbor says. “Hey.”


“You’re shoveling snow into my yard, my driveway.”


“I just had it cleared.”

“What’re you gonna do, buddy?” the man drawls. Another dig, snow flung over.

“I’m gonna kill you,” he says calmly.

“What did you say?” the woman asks, hand on her hip.

“I said I’m gonna kill you.”

“We’re gonna make your life a living hell,” the woman pushes on.

Another dig. Another dig. Another dig.

The neighbor stands silently before he pulls out a gun. He points it at the man—and you have to laugh, because the man says: “What’re you gonna do, shoot me?”

The neighbor shoots him. The woman screams. The neighbor shoots the woman.

But it’s not fatal; he doesn’t kill them on purpose. Just enough to tear open the femoral arteries, which begin sputtering, spraying everywhere, a red bullseye rapidly spreading over the fronts of their pants as their insides turn into outsides, white snow going pink.

Then he leaves. He goes inside of his own house, he’s humming something, a catchy commercial jingle or song he heard on the radio—what’s it called?—before tucking his Ruger (“cheap fucking piece of shit gun,” he mutters, the only indication of his fractured composure) back into his gun locker and picking up an AR-15, closing, and locking the gun locker behind him. He exits the house, returns to the man and woman in the snow, halfway wasted.

White snow going red.

“Someone call the police!” the woman pleads, only in that way a woman can cry, begging for a savior, devoutly and passionately, a mimicry of Saint Teresa’s ecstasy. Her husband remains silent, blinking, staring at the white sun, sky, horizon, everything melted together as he dies.

The neighbor clears his throat. He’s a veteran—no mind that, but keep it in mind, won’t you?—with his hand on an assault rifle in a hazy suburban Pennsylvania neighborhood, and he points the gun at the man’s head; the neighbor says nothing when the man looks back at him, savors that flash of fear in his eyes, the man says nothing back, only accepts his fate the way a man can, choking and forcing it down, and in this moment the man lets him pull trigger, and so the neighbor does.

The woman screams.

The neighbor trudges over to the woman, clears his throat again, he thinks he’s coming down with a cold or something because of the damn chill, shoveling all that damn snow, but he peers into the eyes of the woman anyway, watching her blood run cold the way a child does when he looks over the edge of a cliff and into the roaring ocean, somehow knowing it’s there, feeling its spray, its fluxing power, but wanting to see it anyway.

He puts his boot on the fading woman’s neck, aims his crosshairs, makes her look at him when he delivers that killing blow, and it’s so romantic oh my God, it’s nearly erotic, makes your toes curl, a scene straight out of a movie in a snowy suburb of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under a white sky in the United States of America, in that familiar tundra of the northeast.

He thinks of what to say—no, he doesn’t think, it’s been locked and loaded for decades, because since he was born, he’s been aching for this moment, because this is his time to shine, his rhyme, his muse, his meaning, his everything and anything in between, and he will shortly kill himself with the same weapon after this moment because this is the end of his life, the climax of everything, the culmination of years of blunt work, endless drudgery, paying off old debts and racking up new ones, shoveling snow off driveways, finally driven to the blink of an eye, the brink of a life, a beautiful lifetime’s worth of work.

This moment. What does he say?

He says: “You should’ve kept your mouth shut.”

And he pulls the trigger.