Dad and the plastic tommy-gun
When I was six we moved house. The family who sold the house to us had older children and left behind “hand-me-down” toys that we found put to one side for us. Among them was a plastic tommy-gun, the sort of gun that American gangsters held against one hip when they sprayed their victims and sent them rolling and sprawling, or held out in front of themselves with both hands as they waved death at their enemies. With its circular magazine its appearance was distinctive and this one was mine.
To me this was a wonderful present. Not only did it appear realistic but it functioned as a water-pistol and I could fire it at targets. However I soon tired of targets in the garden, trees and bushes and the posts that held up the washing line. Then the cat came into view and I showered him and he fled and took refuge indoors. A while later I caught up with him in the dining room where he was asleep in front of the fire. Stealthily I lifted the gun and inserted it into his ear.
My father rarely showed his anger, about anything, but on this occasion there were no words. He seized the gun and flung it onto the back of the fire. Shocked and angered I watched the plastic melting, its black substance dripping into the hot flames and catching alight. Within minutes my favourite toy had vanished.
First, I remember my anger, that my Dad had snatched the gun, not to put it beyond my reach, but to destroy it. Then there was the heartbreak; it was my favourite toy, not the sort of thing that my parents would buy, something special, to be kept safe and shown to other children. Then there was the shock, that my father had lost his temper and that for him to do so meant that something really important was at stake. More important than my childish anger, more important than the tears caused by my sense of loss, what really mattered was my father’s insistence on care and consideration for a living creature.
What did the boy like about the gun?
Why do you think his father threw the gun into the fire?