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Clay Pigeons

a tall tale from a short fella

By Ward NorcuttPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - October 2023
Clay Pigeons
Photo by Paul Einerhand on Unsplash

My dad took me out to the dump one afternoon

to shoot me, says I.

It was a crispy clear blue day, as I recall,

perfect for a killin’.

“This here’s a clay pigeon,” he said.

His huge, murderin’, grease-pitted hands turned it this way and that

so as I could get a look at it.

I nodded, wide-eyed and mute

as it surely was the bottom bit that fit

under the pot of the geranium plant in the kitchen window

(and I should know as I had my own watering can).

There was a whole bunch of ‘em

stacked neatly behind him on an old fence board.

I figured mom must already be dead.

She’d never let those out of the house.


And then

he untied the string

which wound around

the closing flap

of the canvas bag

and he eased the gun,

barrel first,

slowly up

and out

into the smelly air.

The wood

of the stock

gleamed slowly next

freshly oiled

and free of prints.


He was all casual-like

with the shotgun clamped under the crook of his gorilla arm.

He took my hand and strolled

and I followed his lumbering footsteps towards the edge of what used to be a cliff.

He dropped the bag beside me and started loading shells

like he’d done it a hundred times.

His cold eyes never left mine as he pumped each one


one by one into the chamber.


“This,” he nodded, eyebrows up and eyes too large, “is a 12-gauge, boy!”

I leaked out a “yessir” as he scooped up a woodmetal contraption-thing

I had mistaken as part of an old bedspring or maybe a Lazy-Boy.

He snapped a little clay disk into into it - “a hand trap thrower,” he taunted,

an extra gleam in his dark eyes.

“Grab it here. Tight.“

Well, what would you do?

I wrapped my little chubbies around the handle as best I could.

“Fling it. Thataway,“ he grunted. His tree trunk head jerking to the left.

And he raised the barrel ...

And in my mind ”hand trap hand trap hand trap….”

A careless mistake.

HE was overconfident.

I knew that if I threw it, it would somehow suck me along with it

catapulting me into the air

an easy target.

I flung it and let go as hard as I could

and it flew and spun out into the blue yonder.

That little clay pigeon was trapped in there though.

It never did come out.

He watched my throw

his eyes full of despair and disbelief

as it landed on the landslide of rot.

He shot the gun and curdled a scream of rage.

Me? I was already runnin’!

The boom had launched me towards the safety of the power truck.

And as my wee tiny feet doubly redoubled their desperate charge,

I couldn’t help but think

“He’s a really good aim.”

By the time he swung the Remington around

I was already hunkered down in the trench of the cab.

Armlocked knees pressed against my cheeks

my eyes were squeezed shut with the grateful stark image of

keys still dangling from the column ignition

shot after shot

slammed into the door and blasted the window

and he was furious at the irony of bulletproof glass and plate steel.

He huffed and threatened and banged.

I turtled and chinny-chin-chinned even lower


The little bump of our driveway jarred me awake and I pulled my head up and off my greasy rag pillow.

I looked up at my father.

He seemed almost normal now.

He must’ve run out of shells and run out of steam

his reptile brain retreating to allow the glimmer of a memory

the Hide-A-Key in the wheel well.

I grabbed the dash with both hands and peeked over to see

my mom craning her head around the stucco wall of the house,

her Olive Oyl wave gangling my safe, if unlikely, return

and I hopped down out of the cab as my dad put it in park.

I rounded the corner and sat on the hot cement steps with my Lazarus mother.

She passed me a handful of baggies and a pail.

And as I unloaded peas

from shell after shell

I hatched my plan

to finally deal

with that monster under my bed.


About the Creator

Ward Norcutt

Playwright and poet.

My goal as a writer is to write thoughtful pieces of prose, poetry and stage plays. Hopefully, the end results are entertaining and engaging, with layers of meaning that make sense to the whole or a theme therein.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

Add your insights

Comments (21)

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  • Ryan Smith2 months ago

    A sliver of a childhood rendered into a lifetime of detail. You find beauty in the greys and the shadows. Your words have light.

  • StoryholicFinds2 months ago

    Congratulations ❤️

  • Caroline Jane2 months ago

    Really enjoyed this. Superbly written. ❤

  • Alexander McEvoy2 months ago

    Wow that was awesome!

  • L.C. Schäfer2 months ago

    Bloody hell! Didn't expect it to be that scary! Great voice in this one 😁😁😁😁

  • Phil Flannery2 months ago

    That was pretty scary. You could have put it in horror. Well done.

  • Where do you go in your head to find this incredible inspiration waft? Lifetimes out of my reach, leagues of your own. You take us on such adventures, with skills that we can’t quite grasp. Just wow So insanely beautiful, I will brag, being privileged enough to read them. Top story is lucky to get to display this masterpiece of imagination

  • Kendall Defoe 2 months ago

    Oh, I love this! A great ride to a conclusion I completely understand. And I often wonder what my life would have been like if my father had a gun in the house. Unfortunate thoughts in mind... A well-deserved Top Story, sir!

  • Mackenzie Davis2 months ago

    This was incredibly conceived, and masterfully executed. My favorite part: stanza 1 "...it surely was the bottom bit that fit under the pot of the geranium plant in the kitchen window (and I should know as I had my own watering can). There was a whole bunch of ‘em stacked neatly behind him on an old fence board. I figured mom must already be dead. She’d never let those out of the house." A truly fantastic example of the unreliable narrator giving a completely different tone to a story. It doesn't read as poetry to me, but a narrative. This could be flash fiction--just amazing, Ward. Brilliant TS!

  • Great job and Congratulations on your Top Story🎉🎉💯

  • Onah chidera2 months ago

    Nice I wish ❤️ I mine where this good

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    Wow! Fantastic and scary!

  • JBaz2 months ago

    Ah the imagination of a child….it’s a wonder we survived. Great work. Congratulations

  • Margaret Brennan2 months ago

    My grandmother always said I needed to write down my dreams and thoughts. I heard her once tell my mother, "She will either be an excellent storyteller or a profound liar. Perhaps a bit of both." This was a fantastic story. My grandmother always said that childhood memories made the best stories.

  • Dana Crandell2 months ago

    A tightly-woven, excellent play on a childhood memory. I have many similar "pieces" of memories. I also spent a lot of time with a hand thrower and a case of Blue Rock (Never understood that name, considering they were black and yellow.) on the hill with my brothers and our shotguns, although I was much older. I even related to the reference to them as "saucers" for planters. Lastly, I enjoyed that "little you" simply followed instructions. Congratulations on a very well-deserved Top Story!

  • Naveed2 months ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story, well deserved

  • Hannah Moore2 months ago

    Nearly accidentally read this again, now its the top story - one line in I realised I'd read it already. But it was definitely worth reading twice, so I deliberately did.

  • A. Lenae2 months ago

    I needed a glass of water after this. What a fantastic piece. The themes of duality and the feeling of dangerous unpredictability, all when a child's parent sometimes wears the mask of the boogeyman, authentically ran rampant throughout this. The language is so rich, so perfectly fitting with this boy's voice and his recollection. Also, "Lazarus mother," is just an example of two words that are simple and yet swollen with meaning, thus incredibly satisfying to read and sit with.

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Magnificently written!!! You could see this payout!!! Shelling peas at the end, was a delightful touch!!!❤️❤️💕

  • Donna Renee2 months ago

    I know it’s tagged as humor but I feel sad for this little kid, his interpretation of this outing is so believable!

  • Hannah Moore2 months ago

    So many individual bits of this that stood out for me, but the whole, the whole was a stomach clenching hellish ride into innocence and fearfulness.

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