Cullen only dared raise his eyes from the tablecloth when he sensed the worst of his mother’s latest tirade was over. She was still mumbling while clearing the dishes, but at least she wasn’t screaming at him anymore.
“Oh, I forgot,” he offered. “I have something for you.”
Surprised, but still annoyed as usual, his mother turned from the sink. “What is it?” she demanded. “Some paper I have to sign? Something that’s going to cost money?”
“No Mom, it’s a present. It’s upstairs. I’ll go get it.”
In his bedroom, Cullen reached up on the shelf in his closet for the shoebox his Dad had given him just before he left – and never came back. He took off the lid and lifted out the cloth-wrapped object, a little surprised at its weight. Carefully he peeled off the cloth exposing the old Beretta pistol his Dad had smuggled into the country when he came home from the army. Cullen hefted the weapon and breathed in the unique smell of gun oil. He was thinking about his Dad when the screech came from downstairs. “Well? I haven’t got all night, you know. ‘Dancing with the Stars’ will be on any minute.”
“I’ll be right down, Mom,” he called. “You’re going to love it.”
* * * *