...Mr. Burroughs describes a fight between his drunken father and his brother that took place when Mr. Burroughs was 10. Certain that it would end in one of their deaths, he runs to his brother’s room, grabs a rifle and then shoves it into John Elder’s hand, screaming, “Kill him, kill him, kill him.” John Elder raises the gun and points it until his father walks away. The next day, John Elder, who had left home for good, returns to teach Augusten how to fire a gun on his own so he can protect himself.
Burroughs' story is undercut by John Elder Robison's version, a rendering complicated by his Asberger's Syndrome, which causes him to struggle with a lack of empathy, among other symptoms.
On the phone Mr. Robison said, “I didn’t see that same scene as a particularly monstrous event.” The rifle was a BB gun, he said. A teenager “looks at that scene and it’s almost comical,” he said. But to a child, “it’s menacing, and his big brother seems able to protect him.” John Elder acknowledges that because of Asperger’s it is often difficult for him to decipher emotions and meaning and says he think his father possibly shared some of his autistic traits. “Sometimes I can’t see the subtleties of behavior,” he said. “My brother is the opposite of that. He’s overdramatic.”
Their mother has no memory of the gun incident or her husband dousing his cigarette on his son's forehead. She plans on weighing in on the rest of her son's book in her own forthcoming memoir.
Chapter Ten of A Wolf At The Door [Augusten.com, PDF]