A letter to my younger brother; scared shitless in the kitchen

Hi Terry

The fact that we are now closer than we have ever been, gives us the opportunity to look back and laugh at the ways things used to be.

Mind you; it has needed the passage of many decades for me to be able to laugh about this particular occurrence and, still I have questions; as to whether the bloody gun was loaded?

We have spoken of this several times and your answer has been different each time; I think also, your answer has always depended on how many Rum and Cokes you have tucked away before the topic comes up!

It had been a pretty ordinary day, from memory; neither extremely hot or bitingly cold but this had not stopped us from having one hell of an argument as we pedalled over the hills and back home at the end of another school day.

What the argument was about, has been lost in the mists of time, but what happened once we got home has been etched deeply in my memory for the last 55 years.

There was no one home when we arrived, Mum was out with Margo and the men, were of course; occupied in distant paddocks.

We were screaming at each other, even as we walked up the path through the gardens and I went straight to the kitchen to get away from you and to make a cup of milo.

The floor space in the pantry adjacent to the kitchen was barely a metre wide with a wall and window at one end and the only access point; close to the door, which opened to the rear verandah.

I was sitting on the stool with my back to the window when you stormed in with the double barrelled shot gun belligerently poised on your hip.

You could not have been older than eight or nine but there is no minimum age limit on untrammelled anger and rage.

“I am going to fucking kill you” was spat from the doorway and the twin barrels of the shot gun took on a fascinating clarity from my trapped position.

I don’t know how long this siege went on, but to me it felt timeless as we screamed at each other from either end of the pantry; there was no escape for me as you played with the cocking mechanism of the gun, all the while keeping it aimed directly at my face.

Blind fear met blind hatred and rage in that confined space as I pleaded with you to put the gun away. At times a surge of optimism would rise as you appeared to be calming down, only to descend back into a screaming rage in the next few seconds.

I felt a warming sensation between my legs and realised I was pissing myself, completely involuntarily; you laughed and mocked me for this edging a step closer so I had an even better view of the oiled insides of the two barrels waving unsteadily in my face.

I have been involved in many negotiation during my life, but in none of them, have I been as desperate or impotent as the scared, quivering wreck, pleading for my life, I was that day.

Finally; the siege was over as quickly as it had begun, you turned and left the room and I heard you putting the gun away in the dairy room as I made a dash for the toilet in a vain attempt to regain some dignity.

You have to promise me, that before I depart this world; you will tell me honestly, the answer to the question that has burned fiercely in my mind for all these years.

Was the fucking gun loaded??




Footnote -I sent an email to Terry and included this letter in the email – I did not expect he would actually tell me the answer to my burning question; he has always been very circumspect, whenever the issue has come up.

To my surprise I got the following SMS from him

“To my loved brother, yes that shotgun was loaded with one cartridge, I clicked the trigger on the empty side several times, thank God I never got them mixed up!

It is 7.00 am in the morning and I have not had a bourbon today, this is the true version of events.

Looking back; I was sadistic little bugger but don’t worry, I love you more than ever now”

I am not sure if this answer has helped me in any way, but at least I know now!

What would have been the situation had the finger of this highly agitated, eight-year-old boy accidentally strayed onto the wrong trigger?

I know for sure I would not be here, there was no escape from a shotgun blast in the confines of the pantry! But the damage something like this would have done to Terry and the family I would have left behind, is beyond comprehension.

No wonder, I have always abhorred the gun culture!!!



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