Víctor Montoya: The Revolver

Translation: Kathy S. Leonard

The only memory that remains from my childhood is the chrome Colt revolver, 38 gauge, that my uncle left me as an inheritance along with a cartridge holder worn across the chest. Its straps wrapped twice around my body, because back then, due to life's hardships, I was more bone than muscle.

When I say that I slept fully armed, that says it all. In the mornings, awakening to my mother's yelling, I played with the revolver, contemplating it against the light that penetrated through the window. I was obsessed by its form and size, without understanding how such a wonderful object could become dangerous. I would stroke the handle and rotate the cylinder against the palm of my hand; I would then place the barrel against my temple, as if playing Russian roulette.

"Don't point it at yourself that way, because what you have in your hands is not a toy!" my mother would yell from the doorway. "That's how your uncle aimed it and that's how he died. A shot to the head put an end to his life."

So I would remove the revolver from my temple and point it toward the wall, imagining that with one shot I could make my opponent's hat go flying through the air. Then I would blow the smoke from the end of the barrel, and spinning the gun on my finger like a cowboy, replace it in its black leather holster.

Sometimes, without even putting my pants on, I would approach the window, aim at the first pedestrian passing by, imitate the explosion of bullets with my mouth, and shoot all six. Meanwhile, my mother´s voice could be heard in the kitchen, talking to herself like every other morning.

With time, the revolver became a good luck charm against all danger. I felt braver and safer in its presence, until one day, while I was still in bed with the revolver pressed against my temple, I pulled the trigger without meaning to. The bullet passed right through me, blood spurted and my life stalled within my chest.

When my mother returned from the market, with a feeling that I might still in bed, looking at the ceiling through the revolver's sight, she stuck her head in the door and said: "Time to go to school."

I heard her voice as if in a dream and clung to the revolver like a child hugging his teddy bear and prepared myself to face death, with the revolver loaded by the hands of the devil.

My mother, annoyed by my silence, entered the room. She made her authority clear by vigorously stating: "Stop fooling around with that gun and playing dead!"

But when she saw a trail of blood that trickled along the parquet floor tiles, she let out a blood-curdling scream and began to tremble like gelatin. Between sobs she repeated over and over: "What did I tell you?… What did I tell you?…"