I’ve never been to Reno, and I never shot a man just to watch him die. But my mama did tell me to be a good boy, and not to play with guns. And just like Johnny, I ignored her: I became obsessed with ‘em. I couldn’t wait to begin assembling my own private armoury. Why, with a rack of pistols, rifles, shotguns and uzis, I could… I could… Well, I never got that far. In fact, never gave a second thought to what I would do with the guns, I just knew I wanted ‘em.
George’s Res - I was always in a fever to get out there. The fishing was good, but he also had shooting irons lined up against the wall, and they – well, they were downright fascinating. Every so often, a visit from the rellies would see a motley group of men disappearing out the door at dusk, to emerge from the darkness several hours later, wiping gunpowder from gleaming black metal. Hell, once I even got to fire a gun. George took me outside, put a .22 in my hands, showed me how to hold it, and told me to pull the trigger. I was smart enough to aim first, and a thin ironbark sapling caught my bullet with aplomb. A surprisingly light recoil and I was stoked: this whole shooting business was going to be much easier than I first thought.
Some time later, we slaughtered Ole Blackie. He wasn’t much of a calf by that stage, but I still regarded him as such. I was keen as hell to watch the butcher at work. My brother and I stood at the fence fifty metres away. Dad placed a bowl of feed on the ground, and Ole Blackie came trotting over, began snuffling about in it. The butcher carefully placed the barrel between Ole Blackie’s eyes and pulled the trigger. Ole Blackie just collapsed like he had no bones anymore, and in a flash the butcher had whipped out his knife, leapt on Ole Blackie’s twitching body, and slashed his throat open. Black liquid spilled all over the grass. Dad and the butcher stood and watched; my brother and I returned indoors.
Ole Blackie never did anyone any harm, and deserved better than having his brain smashed with a bullet, but I can’t deny he made good eating.