“Gunner” by Joseph Levens

My boyfriend’s name is Gunner and there is a reason for this. The sex is good, great even, but when he comes, boy and girl here have a little problem: a bullet is shot out instead of semen, at the same velocity as if fired from a rifle.
It’s really not as dangerous as it seems. Just think: how many people are likely to be in plain sight when we – or most people, really – are intimate? The concern is limited to just myself, essentially, and I’ve learned to deal. We are in love, will always love. I don’t know what I would do without him. I met this man after years of rejections and heartaches, and I’m going to do everything I can to keep him. He feels the same way.

Sometimes we stay far from the risk and Gunner doesn’t enter me at all. I have the luxury of control here, and can aim the damn thing. It’s escalated the term target practice to new levels. Like every other girl who’s been with the same man a few times, I can tell, beautifully and affectionately, when the blast will occur. But that’s probably not the best word to describe it, because it doesn’t really make much noise. The silencer you hear on TV shows? – that’s pretty much what it sounds like.
Gunner told me about himself over drinks on our third date.

“No shit,” I said.

“Yes, shit,” he said. “I’d show you, but I might kill you.”

“Well, can’t you tell when it’s going to happen?” I said. “So we can be ready?”

We lost a Tiffany lampshade that night. My grandmother’s antique bureau A.M. radio the next. Since then, we’ve kept his sixty-two-pound wrought iron bullet trap on the bed. The thing works rather well, just adds an unsightly element to love-making otherwise filled with silk and satin and cotton and flannel, depending on the season.

Yes, depending on the season implies I’ve been with Gunner a while, which I have – almost two years now. A girl’s got to love, you know. I am ass-crazy for the man, and he for me.

We recently discovered that the caliber of the bullet varies and is connected to the food he eats. Mexican is particularly lethal: at least a forty-four caliber if a full refried bean burrito is consumed, with or without sour cream, it doesn’t matter. Pepperoni is also most damaging, and once, after Uncle Ernie’s barbecue pig roast last month, and quite to my surprise, a second shot was fired very shortly after the first. We’re considering going vegetarian, as that one nearly grazed my wrist.

Gunner was fifteen when all of this came to be, so he tells me. His parents took him to their general practitioner, who, they soon found out, wanted no part of it. The doctor referred them to a specialist.

“They have experts for this sort of thing?” asked Gunner’s father.

“They have experts for everything,” said the doctor. “I recently read in a medical weekly that a woman had hair in the form of feathers at the top of her head, like a cockatiel’s, and they rose and fell depending on her mood and what she was thinking.”

“But we are talking about real danger here,” said Gunner’s mother, quite concerned. “I don’t want any harm to come to my son.”

As the story goes, according to my boyfriend, the specialist did indeed examine him, and confirmed the condition.

“There’s really no treatment. However, I will give you a list of advisories,” the specialist said. “You will need to register yourself with the police department and obtain a license.” He gave full written details which the family collected and observed.


I’d like to turn the story inward and give you a little information about myself, how I’ve come to love this man, my Gunner, my one and only, but there isn’t much to say. I’ve been known to break out in song on occasion, sometimes on rooftops. I’ve been clocked swimming at four point two-two miles per hour. I am undefeated at vinegar shot contests. Other than that, I’m little plain Jane from central New Jersey, working as an assistant to a dentist. Gunner, my boy, commutes to Wall Street.

We’ll get married one day, Gunner and me. We are completely and utterly in love. There is no other in my life, will never, cannot ever, ever be. Love has no bounds, as all of history has testified, and is stronger than Atlas, stronger than the pillars of skyscrapers. And dare I say, but if that fuck of an illness of cancer or whatever hits me when I am older, before it graces my man, I will let Gunner stay inside until the end, let that slug rip straight up to my throat. There is no sweeter kiss goodbye.

(Fall 2010)