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Dolores Park, west edge. Dennis sat on a bench, overlooking green, doused with a motley of blues, yellows, reds, and flesh tones. The green worked its way through, up into palm trees, one hanging high, fronds swaying gently against the intricate, rectangular pattern of far-off buildings. Dennis squinted. Above the East Bay hills, he spotted the occasional cloud, swimming alone in the sun-bleached sky.

People clamored, laughed, threw frisbees, read. Dennis noted their happiness, hammered down gulps, crumpled a plastic bottle. The revolver suddenly felt like a large, oddly-shaped stone in his pocket. He squeezed the bulge, ran his fingers over rough denim, laid the empty bottle on the bench, licked, bit his lower lip.

A makeshift blank rested in each of the pistol’s two chambers. Dennis had repacked several shells with a mixture of gunpowder and sawdust, capped each off with a wad of paper.

Dennis straightened his spine, rolled his shoulders back, opened his chest, attempted to clear his head, like an actor preparing to step on stage. There, in front of him, people were splayed out, flirting, drinking, tossing grapes in their mouth — his audience. No one seemed to notice him.

He reached into his pocket, withdrew the pistol. His heart raced, muscles tensed, vague memories flushed through his head. He put the gun to his temple, wrapped his finger around the trigger, switched off the safety with his thumb — click — , breathed deeply, stared into the throng.

Suddenly, he felt a wetness spread warmly from his ankle, down his foot. He looked down and observed a small dog, hind leg in the air. “Little shit,” and without a thought, Dennis pointed the revolver at the dog.

The blast echoed through the park, sent a flock of pigeons across the sky, gripped everyone within earshot. Dennis sat, barrels smoking, a sheer mist of red particles across his face, lenses. The dog lay at his feet, twitching, its eye socket oozing like a grumbling volcano.

Something possessed Dennis. For the past few weeks, he had conspired against himself. Now, faced with the evidence of his crime, he did like any other fugitive might, and fled.

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