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Fireworks and Life

By H.G. Miller

They sound like firecrackers going off. Somewhere in the distance.

Faint memories of driving to the Rice County border in order to stock up on roman candles, sparklers and Black Cats. (Fireworks were illegal in my home county.)

I remember the neighbor kid lighting an M-80 and throwing it at a stray cat. The cat got away, but that distinctive popping sound seemed to hang in the air forever.

That's the sound outside. Like fifteen M-80s scaring the fleas out of some poor stray cats a few blocks away.

Only, it isn't the Forth of July yet, and those aren't fire crackers.

They're bullets.

Sprayed from the nozzle of a semi-automatic weapon pointed out the window of a passing car. Ripping through the flesh of a sixteen year old boy named Anthony, but called A-Mac by all of his friends. Kicking the life out of him as he falls to the cement still warm from the summer sun.


“I wonder what kind of music they'll play at my funeral,” this blonde girl from Texas asks out loud.

A few days later now. An elderly woman has finally succumbed to the condition of living. An ambulance parks in front of the apartment across the way from the one we stand in currently. The paramedics wheeling her body along the cement patio surrounding a pool does little to dampen the mood of most at this party.

We keep drinking and await our turn.

“I've always been fond of the Guns 'n' Roses version of 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door,'” I tell her.

“Hmm.” She takes a sip. “Dylan's was better.”

I am somewhat maddened by this comment as it is my funeral we're talking about now, but I let it slide because she is a blonde from Texas, and I am housing faint hopes of someday getting her to sleep with me.


My senior year of college, I took the Spring Break trip down to Florida.

Hanging over my enjoyment was the knowledge that my mother's father lay in a hospital bed somewhere, dying of a kidney failure brought about by cancer.

After an afternoon of drinking and hanging out by the pool, I took a phone call from my father in which he told me that Grandpa had finally passed. I sat by the ocean after that with some drinks and my friends.

We watched the sunset. A flock of birds flew through the blue horizon, and I thought of spirits and of life and of God.

Another group of vacationing students cheered when the sun finally disappeared into the cold waters of the Gulf of Mexico. They expected another day.


After the police had gone and the yellow tape was cleared away, friends and family put up flowers and candles and a picture of young Anthony where his body had fallen on the sidewalk. Two weeks later, the flowers had withered and the candles were put away.

I checked in the paper for some news about the neighborhood kid that I never even met. I didn't find any.

Now, there is only some fading green graffiti reading “R.I.P. A-MAC” on the sidewalk.

I occasionally hear the popping of fireworks in the distance. I hear the police sirens and the talking of my neighbors, and I continue to live my life with the expectation that I will still have another day.