The Gun Show

Carl just stepped into the kitchen donning his favorite accessory; an olive colored Red Oxx travel bag.
“Does this look too much I’m carrying a purse to the gun show?”
“No”, I said, ” it looks like a European shoulder bag, but if there’s any safari types there, at least they’ll know you can’t buy Red Oxx at Wal-Mart.” My answer seemed to satisfy him and he headed out the door to meet my daddy/brother, a relative god never intended for us to have in common, at whatever gun show the two of them are planning on perusing today.

Personally, I just can’t bring myself to spend an entire day walking around a drafty building with exposed insulation, rubbing sweaty elbows with a crowd of pot bellied Lone Ranger types; all mustachioed faces and beady eyes, swimming in a sea of camo hunting caps. Seems to me like wearing camouflage on your head is a good god damned way to get shot in the fucking head. But that’s just me. Eavesdrop on any conversation and the air is rank with paranoid lunacy. Each man intent on defending his wife from imaginary intruders and storming the show with an unprecedented sense of urgency. I’m sure their concerns are well founded, today probably is the last chance to complete their stockpile of ammo before Obama arrives at their house to personally disarm them and maybe steal their TV. Well whatever, kids. How much beer did you have for breakfast?

I’ve always been a little on the fence when it comes to weaponry, of any type. It’s not that I’m against the right to bear arms, as it were, but it attracts and breeds the type of mentality who falsely believes that the threat of violence brings peace, or who mistakes the stalemate masquerading as peace during an impasse, for a resolution. Well Johnny Walker Red, where were you and your concealed carry last week when a 73 year old man in Yuma, AZ went bat shit crazy, shooting and killing six people including himself? What? A little late on the draw? I’ll say. That whole mess could have been avoided if only you had been there. Despite all the peacekeeping guns in the world, chaos marches on, tracking bloody footprints into the house and staining the carpet.

A story from my personal collection:

Sometime around the beginning of my senior year in high school, my step dad, Charles, decided to let his mid life crisis manifest itself in the form of a personal guard dog. I remember coming home one night to find him sitting on the couch holding a tiny Blue Healer puppy named Pete. Pete was pretty cute but, when I reached out to touch him, he snarled at me. Resisting the urge to snap the little bugger’s neck I looked at Charles like what the fuck? He said “This dog ain’t a pet so don’t you go treating it like one.” He then went on to explain that he had purchased Pete to defend his welding truck from tool snatching pirates. This may have sounded like a good idea. It wasn’t.

With each passing week Pete got bigger and meaner and Charles grew in his resolve that no one was to scold his precious killing machine for being aggressive towards people. This was his personal guard dog after all. I should mention that from the time I was 5 years old until I flew the coop at age 19, we always had a minimum of four dogs and this type of overt aggression was never tolerated. Once Pete lost his puppy teeth and grew some real canines, the incidents started to pile up. Despite being saddled with the responsibility of watching the truck, Pete would still spend his nights in the yard and house with the other dogs. The problem was that Pete did not understand the difference between friend and foe. It is nothing short of miraculous that no one sued us for damages. Pete bit, and drew blood from: my step brother, my step brother’s best friend, my cousin and my boyfriend. Charles couldn’t be bothered to offer even a begrudging apology for his dog’s behavior; always muttering some passive aggressive nonsense about Pete serving a purpose.

Any sportsman will tell you, a gun that goes off by itself is destined to go in the ground.

When spring rolled around my mom took me to get my senior pictures done. After my portrait session was over, we ate lunch and went shopping. It was one of the last really good days we spent together before time came along and changed everything. On the way home we stopped at the grocery store to get dog food. Since we had five dogs we would always get the biggest possible bag which would typically weigh 50lbs. Back at the house, it was a pretty long walk from the driveway, all the way through the yard, up the stairs of the porch and to the front door, so I volunteered to carry in the heavy bag. The gate was crowded by four happy dogs with wagging tails and one snarling, crazy eyed, mean as hell Blue Heeler. After pushing my way through the gate and making it half way across the yard, Pete charged me and helped himself to a big mouthful of my calf muscle. My mom managed to kick him off of me and we made our way into the house where Charles, who could not possibly not have heard the commotion in the yard, was sitting smugly at the kitchen table; presumably feeling proud of fine job he had done of training his guard dog. I probably should’ve known better but was full of adrenaline, and way past the point of no return, so I made my way through the living room to the kitchen, looking Charles straight in the face with blazing eyes, and said through clenched teeth “Control. Your. Dog.” and then threw the dog food bag down in front of him, stormed off to my room and slammed the door.

I don’t think either of my parents were prepared for my reaction. My mom had been trying for months to talk some sense into Charles about this insane dog situation. It was a futile effort. He couldn’t be reached or reasoned with and would explode with self righteous anger at the slightest insinuation that he may be doing something wrong. I didn’t expect this time would be any different nor do I actually know what happened next. I assume my mom filled him in on the details. All I know is I was in my bathroom wiping up blood and pouring hydrogen peroxide on the holes in my leg when I heard a rifle discharge in the driveway followed by my mom’s hysterical wailing and, by that point, I had come out to the living room where I could hear Charles’ booming voice shout plain as day “shut your god damned mouth Melinda, this is what you made me do!” All at once I understood what happened; Charles had shot Pete and, worse yet, he didn’t do it because the dog attacked me. Knowing we would be sufficiently horrified, he did it to be spiteful. As per normal, he won because the girls cried and a hateful impasse, that vaguely resembled peace, was restored.