A Good Guy With a Gun, or The Frank Castle Doctrine, or The Punisher Applies For A New Job


Dear Principal Conway,

I was always taught that if you have a gun, you better produce it. And if the gun comes out, the bullets better get to flying soon after that. I don’t make the rules—just doomed to live by them and someday die by them, and that’s just how it is.

Before I get too far into this, please let me introduce myself and the reason I’m writing to you today. My name is Frank Castle. You may know me as “the Punisher”—a moniker given to me by the lamestream media, but one I’ve come to accept. I saw that you were advertising for a math instructor; despite my lack of experience in a school setting, you will soon agree that my skills and experience make me uniquely qualified for a teaching position at Friendly Little Learners Academy Day School.

I figure in this day and age—with all the school shootings and terrorism and whatnot—you need a few well-trained shooters in front of the chalkboard with TEC-9s and Glock 40s just in case a mad gunner comes in there to shoot the place up. It’s like my good buddy NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre says: “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

When I heard Wayne say that, I thought, Hey, that’s me. A bit cartoonish, but that’s me: Frank Castle, a good guy with a gun. Hundreds of them, actually, stashed in various safe houses throughout New York City. When I’m not prying them out the hands of dead mobsters, I’m purchasing them by the buttload at gun shows. You’ll find me cruising those gun shows nearly every weekend. I’m the guy wearing a black T-shirt stamped with a white skull—sleeveless, of course, that’s how much I believe in the right to bare arms. There’s no “commonsense, freedom-killing law that can block or even slow my gun accumulation. And it’s a good thing, too, because right now there is some bad guy amassing just as many guns as I am, and the only way to stop the sonofabitch is a showdown—World War III right here in these streets, and your boy Franklin Castle has no qualms about dumping a whole cartridge or two into his stupid bad-guy face.

Yes, I’ve murdered thousands in my unholy war against crime—so many that my soul has grown heavy, cold and barren. It’s like I’m carrying the corpse of the slain Frank Castle buried within my chest. I don’t even shower anymore; I’m drenched in so much blood it’ll never wash off. I can’t close my eyes without seeing a dead gangster pleading for his life in his final moments.

But at the gun shows, they don’t ask about any of that. I hand over a stack of blood-stained bills I took off the body of a mafioso I recently shot through the heart, and the gun dealers are all like, “Enjoy your weapons, Mr. Castle.”

And I’m like, “I will use these guns to punish the wicked and the evil, the scum, the criminal element wherever they may lurk!”

I say this every time, but the gun dealers are always like, “What’s that? I can’t understand you. You’re kind of mumbling, and your voice is already all grizzled and gravelly.”

And then I say, “Did you just sell these guns to a Mr. Franklin Castle? Did you know that Mr. Castle is a convicted felon, and that it’s against the law to sell guns to convicted felons?” Then I shoot them dead, because I’m the Punisher and killing criminals is just what I do.

It’s a cycle that’ll likely repeat until I’m down in the earth, because checking the backgrounds of people buying weapons that can tear a child apart curtails freedom or something. That’s what my man LaPierre tells the folks up in Congress; he owns their butts. You elect ’em, he purchases ’em, and then they line up to perform gunnilingus on his pistols. Not really. I don’t care. I’m not too into politics. Just make sure I have easy access to guns, because a permanent bloodbath in the streets is really all that can keep anyone safe.

I’ve been at this since returning from several tours in Vietnam. Over the years, my admirers have called me “[t]he blackest night in the American soul, ” “an avenging angel,” and “[t]he terrifying embodiment of the Second Amendment, come back to haunt us all.” To quote a recommendation letter LaPierre wrote for me: “Ah, that muscle-bound physique. God, those guns. The AR-15s. The AK-47s. That Castle is real a man’s man. I think we all daydream about being him. It’s more than a little arousing.” Kind of weird, but I think I know what he’s getting at.

The truth is I’m just Frank, a concerned citizen spurred into action by the sting of violence hitting too close to home. Yes, I made the gangsters who killed my family pay. And yes, I’ve slaughtered thousands in the years that followed—I’m very effective at what I do. I’m getting up there, though, and even I realize when it’s time for a change of pace. I’ve had one too many run-ins with Spider-Man, Captain America, Daredevil or some other Spandexed freak, all waving their gloved fingers, telling me that killing bad guys won’t bring an end to crime. But my bullets bring an end to the crime these criminals are involved in, and that’s something to cheer. Don’t know why they can’t see that. Instead of shaking my hand and saying thank you, the misguided idiots pick fights with me. Those pansies spend too much time in space battling aliens. They don’t realize that down here on earth, there’s no rehabilitation for criminal scum. Only thing I got for them is handful of Black Talons loaded into an extended clip.

The_Punisher_Wallpaper_by_rEHa6yKuHIn addition to a change of pace, I really feel I must go where I’m needed. Without an armed professional at your school, it’s only a matter of time before an active shooter turns your educational institution into a target range. What are you gonna do? Hire Spider-Man to spin little webs while some guy is blazing your classrooms. Captain America is cool, I guess, but all he can do is shake and cower behind that little shield of his while a gunman is popping off. And Daredevil? The guy’s blind! Don’t get me started on some of the second-string clowns: Ant-Man? He’s trying to put fear in my heart by channeling a fucking ant? Mr. Fantastic? I’m sorry, but I hear that name and all I can imagine is a pimp covered in glitter. Wonder Man? Good Lord. Look, I’m not sure when Wonder Woman went under the knife, but I support his right to be himself and live in peace. Man, the well of creativity really ran dry on that one, huh? I guess all the cool derivative names like Batgirl, Supergirl, and Aqualad were taken. What’s next, the Punishette?

I know what you’re probably thinking: a crazed shooter wearing a skull-emblazoned T-shirt, strapped with a Colt AR-15 Sporter SP1 Carbine assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine teaching your kids to add and subtract? Sure, my gravelly voice might scare the children at first, but never fear. In time, they’ll come to see it as a grandfatherly grumble. And guess whose classroom will have no discipline problems? The class clown will glance at the heavy metal on my hip before he tells his first disruptive joke. They’ll know that Mr. Castle didn’t take no shit from punk-ass hoodlums on the street and he damn sure ain’t taking no shit from an eight-year-old.

Also, your truancy problem is a thing of the past. I’ll stalk those little rule-breaking bastards like I hunted Wilson “the Kingpin” Fisk’s men all throughout the dive bars and backstreets of Manhattan. Though instead of delivering sweet vengeance, I’ll deliver those little school skippers to the office for a stern talking to and possibly detention. (An aside: How come deliver doesn’t mean “rip someone’s liver out with your bare hands”? I delivered quite a few of the Kingpin’s lackeys before I confronted Fisk and shut down his operation for good, if you catch my drift.)

My first preference is to teach math in order to utilize the skills I’ve acquired in combat. For instance, I’ve spent years keeping various running tallies of the criminal bodies I’ve dropped—2,000 to 5,000 since the 1970s, depending on your method of counting. A righteously violent war on the underworld requires a surprising amount of simple arithmetic, algebra, geometry, statistics, and even calculus. Whenever students start to whine about, “When am I ever going to use this stuff?” I’ll respond, “Fifty feet from you, there’s a piece of human dog shit running a meth lab in the middle of an urban area, and you’re staring him down through the scope of your brand new Savage Arms 110 BA .338 Lapua Magnum sniper rifle. Good luck to you if you don’t know how to calculate the best angle by taking into account wind speed, bullet velocity, and a host of other factors. And God help you if you don’t know your way around a y-axis.”

I’m so excited about this opportunity that I’ve already worked up some word problems for my students. Check this one out:

You have two TEC-DC9s with 10-round magazines, and the Kingpin’s men have you surrounded. You’re hunkered down behind a bullet-riddled Toyota and your heart’s pumping because this might be the end. But there’s a steadiness to you because you’re well trained and you’ve been here before, nearly every month as a matter of fact. Besides, you’re ready to die. You welcome death. Something has to end the pain. But goddammit, you’re not going to die. Not here. Not now. You are the Punisher, an agent of death, and it’s only right that you will face yours in a violent fashion. But not today. The situation is dire, though. Your guns are semi-automatic because the bastards in Congress have curtailed your constitutional right to own fully automatic weapons—restricting you to one measly bullet per trigger pull—despite the clarity of the Second Amendment, which states that a “well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” And that’s what the Punisher is, baby, a one-man militia regulated by a dark impulse to seek and administer a righteous sort of street justice that a corrupt system refuses to consider.

So you’re facing 5 enemies, and they all have the same guns as you, except they have 32-round magazines because a passive and cowed public in this scenario has allowed the government to unconstitutionally ban clips with more than 10 rounds. A government official has come by and rounded up all the guns owned by law-abiding citizens and the criminals are the only ones with high-capacity magazines. Because of liberals and their freedom-crushing laws, only the criminals—who by definition don’t follow laws—have superior firepower, thus putting honest citizens at a clear disadvantage. That’s right, since criminals are just going to commit crimes anyway, we might as well not have too many laws. The Punisher is the law. And don’t get me started on the government owning all the guns while the citizenry is unarmed… The government should allow any and every type of weapon so that the people can overthrow the government because of tyranny or something. Give me my drone and my atomic bomb, the Constitution doesn’t put any restrictions on my right to bear arms! So anyway, at the rate of 10 rounds every 2 seconds, how long before you run out of bullets and have to deliver those shitstains with your bare hands?

As you can see, ol’ Frankie Castle knows his way around the multiplication table just as well as he knows his way around a Taurus .380 TCP with a ten-round extended clip. My guns have faced down the Jackal, the Rhino, Barracuda, the Vulture, Wolverine, Dr. Octopus, and Ant-Man, as well as people who don’t identify so closely with animals, such as Dr. Doom. Therefore, this “good guy with a gun” will have no problem with your average school shooter, nor will I have a problem with your average ten-year old. Though if the Incredible Hulk comes rampaging through the school, you’re on your own. There’s not a bullet in the world that can drop that fucker, and believe me I’ve tried them all.

Please find attached to this letter a resume with a list of references and confirmed kills.


Frank “the Punisher” Castle

Rion Amilcar Scott’s short story collection, Insurrections (University Press of Kentucky, 2016) was awarded the 2017 PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. His work has been published in journals such as The Kenyon Review, Crab Orchard Review, and The Rumpus, among others. The World Doesn't Require You, his sophomore story collection, is forthcoming from Liveright in August 2019. More from this author →