My brother always carried a gun. He didn't always need it. He didn't really need it much at all. In truth, I can only remember a few stories he told me where he actually 'needed' it. He never shot anybody. But he would make it known he was carrying it when he was doing his job, when he went to tow some junk car out of a rough neighborhood, say, and somebody was sneaking up or lurking, watching him, waiting for him to let his guard down, maybe, ...so that he could rob him. He had a few stories like that. Once he started carrying it all the time, he just got used to the feeling of having it on him. He got used to the feeling of security.
One night we were riding around for hours in my car, just driving...doing what we did on such drives... At one point my brother noticed that the vehicle behind us was very close. It was a big truck. The headlights were really high, and the beams were blazing on the backs of our heads. My brother got furious. We were on some desolate country road, in Suffolk, Virginia, I think. The longer the guy stayed on right our ass, the more furious my brother got. He had his gun on him, and he took it out. "Stop the fuckin car!"
I was extremely nervous.
"Stop the fuckin car, Bobby! Stop the car!" My brother was screaming at me as I drove.
I didn't want to stop the car. I was afraid of what might happen. I looked in the rear-view mirror at the blazing, big headlights getting closer and closer. I listened to my brother's escalating anger and screaming, right in my ear. I drove like that for a while...with the headlights...the screaming. I didn't stop at first.
I was afraid my brother would shoot at this guy. I was afraid of the guy in the truck behind us...or guys. I had no idea who it was behind us. It could have been six dudes with shotguns. It could have been one scrawny teenager. Finally I stopped the car.
"Okay. Now what," I said. The guy in the truck behind us also stopped. We are deep in the country, nobody around, no light, nothing. Just that guy's headlights illuminating us. I have imagined all kinds of alternate endings to that night. I imagined that I got out of the car and I sprinted back at the driver side of the truck, and I was greeted by a shotgun barrel. I imagined my brother getting out of the car and emptying a whole clip into the dude's windshield. I imagined myself...screaming back at my brother -- to get the fuck out of my car -- so he could walk his ass home three hours (the least likely of these scenarios).
So we sat there. The guy in the truck behind us just sat there too. My brother showed his gun to those big blazing headlights. My brother's raging body language, the gun shining in the headlights...maybe was enough of a demonstration for the guy behind us that...at least one of the people in my car was willing, apparently willing, to 'take this to another level' ...and end up on a police report or something.
We continued to sit there. Gradually, my brother became more still and quiet. He muttered stuff, that's right, motherfucker, you better not get out... So we sat there and we sat there and we sat there. I didn't say a word. Finally, my brother said, "Alright. Let's get out of here."
I put it in drive and began to drive away. The truck stayed parked where it was.