about the author

Ron Riekki’s books include U.P.: a novel (Sewanee Writers Series and Great Michigan Read nominated), The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (2014 Michigan Notable Book from the Library of Michigan and finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award/Grand Prize shortlist, Midwest Book Award, Foreword Book of the Year, and Next Generation Indie Book Award), Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (2016 IPPY/Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal Great Lakes—Best Regional Fiction and Next Generation Indie Book Award—Short Story finalist), and And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (Michigan State University Press, 2017).

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Ron Riekki

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Read by Frederik Hamel

I sleep with a chair up against the door. I tip it so that if the door opens the chair will fall forward.

I sleep with everything locked. I double-check before going to bed.

I sleep with the sensors set, ensuring the security unit light is blinking, showing it’s operating.

I sleep with the lights on. I have extra lamps, multiple outlet strips, backup emergency generators.

I sleep with a gun under my pillow, another inside my pillow. You don’t have time to find bullets when push comes to shove, so they’re fully loaded. I make sure the barrels point at the sole bedroom window, which is most likely where someone might try to enter. The window is a weak spot. Never live in a first floor apartment. Basically, the higher you go in an apartment complex, the safer it gets. First floor apartments are made for murder and kidnapping. Basements are made for strangulation and torture. I live on the second floor because it’s the highest floor in this apartment complex. I’ve considered sleeping on the roof, but you’re too exposed that way.

I sleep with 9-1 already dialed on my phone. All I have to do is press 1 and send.

I sleep with a bulletproof vest and bulletproof helmet. I found bulletproof pants online. They call them ballistic pants. They’re waterproof too. Hot. Uncomfortable. It’s like wearing a machete. They need to make bulletproof pajamas. I have bulletproof shoes. They’re waterproof too. Have a zipper. Good traction. I don’t wear those sleeping. You don’t have to overkill. I do fantasize sometimes though about bulletproof scarves and bulletproof nose-rings and bulletproof socks.

I sleep with mirrors all over the place, so that if someone comes in they’ll be disoriented.

I sleep with dummies, fully dressed realistic house of wax mannequins done up in horror dungeon outfits with axes raised so that anyone entering would faint or die or run or puke.

I sleep with a bumper sticker on my car that says NRA and a bumper sticker on my fridge that says NRA and a bumper sticker on my chrysanthemum vase that says NRA and a tattoo on my arm that says NRA and a tattoo on my German Shepherd that says NRA and a tattoo on my fridge that says NRA and a bumper sticker on my teeth that says NRA or whatever. I’m a bit high now from sleep deprivation because I don’t like to sleep. I don’t like dog-whistle politics either, but you know what I’m talking about. It’s not safe nowadays. Not with all this aggregation that’s going around. You need aggression to conquer the congregations of humans in this population explosion world. This explosion world. This gun world. It is a gun world. Here’s the mass shootings that have happened in the last few days:

Jan 22, Illinois, 4 injured

Jan 21, Georgia, 6 injured

Jan 21, Tennessee, 2 injured, 2 killed

Jan 21, Florida, 5 injured

Jan 20, California, 4 injured

That’s twenty-one injured, two killed in the last three days and I have a feeling more shootings are coming tonight. But I’m safe, because I have guns. In fact, you don’t see Wyoming on that list, do you? That’s because Wyoming has almost two hundred guns for every thousand people. You know what state has the least amount of guns per person? New York? And which state do you hear about people being shot more often? New York. Why? Because guns save lives. I have guns in every room in my house. In the kitchen behind the fridge, in the closet behind the LAPD plaque, in the bathroom behind the NRA-colored toilet, in the living room in the middle of the floor where it can’t be missed.

I sleep with a gun in each hand and I asked a doctor if he could insert a third arm onto my body so that I could have three hands with three guns and to my surprise he said yes, so when the first criminal came into my apartment, can you imagine the look on her face when she saw me walk out with three arms, one all floppy because I can’t control it, and I knocked over one of the mannequins and they started falling like dominoes and the music turned on, death metal (Behemoth’s Zos Kia Cultus), that lets me know an intruder is in the house, except it wasn’t a criminal, technically, but rather my new girlfriend who wanted to surprise me with a robbery, most probably, although the defense attorney said she wanted to surprise me with a Nerf gun birthday cake, but this world is about safety and there is no safety in surprises. She should have known that. She should have married me. If she’d have married me, I would have protected her. She would have been safe with me. But you have to be alive for marriage.

I sleep with a picture of her by my bed. It’s a picture, not a photo. I made it by taking a piece of paper and filling it with bullet holes until you could make out her face, sort of.

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