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It was a kill my grandmother would have hated—multiple shots through a sniper’s scope across the mile breadth of Kainalu Valley. “Bloody coward,” I imagined Gramma saying. She felt a hunter should give a buck a fighting chance by firing only one shot through open sites within one hundred yards. My big brother Ben had just fired five times at a buck on the opposite ridge and now it was lying on its side in a clearing. He’d let me shoot too, just for fun, through the open sites of his old .22.

I picked up two brass casings Ben’s rifle had ejected—they were still warm. The air smelled of gunpowder, the scent of celebration. It was the same acrid firecracker odor that lingered in the islands every July Fourth, New Year, and Chinese New Year.

Ben studied the buck through his .270’s scope. His blond hair glinted like gold. The hairs on his neck and arms were blond too. Gramma called him a “sissy” because he had our Irish mother’s looks. I took after our hapa haole father with my dark complexion and rugged features. Strangers didn’t think we were brothers at all.

“Big horns?” I asked.

Ben shifted the butt of the rifle so it rested lower down on his shoulder. “Not bad,” he said. “Can’t find the entry wound.”

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