The shotgun blast was so loud that it took me a moment to even understand what I’d just done. I can’t say for sure what I was feeling. There was anger. There was fear. But most of all, there was a strange giddiness. If it hadn’t been my first time firing a shotgun, maybe it would have felt differently. The two men in front of me looked at me in disbelief. One of them had just the hint of a grin when the other one fell. And though I knew I was done, I was ready to fire again.
The previous night, there was no shotgun. My only weapon was a heavily used blue nylon jacket with the word ‘Security’ embroidered on the upper left hand side, like a nametag. My job was simple: stand outside the Food Mart from 6pm to midnight. That was it. If the place got robbed, I was supposed to call 911, like any customer would do. If someone stole something, I was to tell Todd, the night manager. I was a grocery store scarecrow. My training consisted of being told where to punch my time card and where to hang up the jacket that had been worn by countless security guys before me. Twice a night (at 9pm and at 11pm), an armed rent a cop would drop by while Todd did a safe drop. My first night on shift, the rent a cop said to me, “You’re just a deterrent. I’m the stopper.” He patted his holstered pistol for effect.