Being drunk, he was sleeping on a table, with a gun in his hand, in an improvised bar that had no power: only candle light and a boom box on batteries. My newly adopted father owned the bar and was doing his best to make the business float. His luck was that the Moroccan soldiers would often visit the place.
Back to the drunk boy. He was 15 and he always held a gun in his hand. It was loaded but, strangely, no one was afraid of him. In fact no one seemed to notice he was there. I could not bare the image so I wanted to know the story.
A few years before, when he was 10, the early days of the war took his father away, for good. His mother was all he had to protect him as they were living - well, surviving - alone in a house at the edge of the village. An uncle, their only human connection to the world, would sometimes visit. Just as the boy's father, he had to volunteer as a soldier to the most unwanted war.
Each visit would bring joy to the house, as the kid would get into a frenzied playing mood. What better games to play than war games? After all, they were the only games available at the time, the only thing to see around you. The uncle would indulge him and also share his shiny handgun, with the lock on.
It was a Sunday evening, dinner just finished, the boy was sleepy and the uncle ready to go. He took the boy to his arms, kissing him on the forehead as the boy was holding on to the gun, mimicking firing it. Peeoww, peeoww he went. The uncle simulated being hit, getting a victory scream from the boy. He went for the next victim, his mum, just a meter away holding on the uncle coat. Peeoww it went, just way louder than any boy can scream.
The boy's mind got stuck on the milliseconds that followed. His mum is hit, but not yet down. 5 years stuck in a few milliseconds with no end in sight. Alcohol acts like a black screen. Simply closing the eyes doesn't work, it only makes the image clearer.
He never let go of the gun and no one ever dared to ask him to. They were all afraid that they would get stuck in the same milliseconds and could never get away.