#287: me and a gun

[F.U.C.K. is an e-zine that I started on January 24, 1993 and ended on January 24, 2000. One concept is that articles should be timeless if possible, so they were not released with dates. As such, the date on this blog is not exact but I will try to use a date as close as possible.]

When I was seven or eight years old, there was a kid in my neighborhood that received his fair share of abuse from the others. He was real small, a little younger than I am, and feisty as hell. We often wondered if he liked the abuse since he continually asked for it in his own way. I don’t recall all of the events but one day he decided to strike out at those around him for his previous punishment. Some of my friends and I were playing behind some of the condos when he came toward us brandishing a knife. It was apparent he took the foot long butcher knife from his kitchen, but the size alone made us think about things. He only chased me swinging wildly for about five minutes, but it left a mark on me for a long time.

Many parts of my childhood are a blur by choice. I can’t remember exactly how old I was at the time, must have been twelve or thirteen years old. The local bully was a boy named Scotty. Everyone in the neighborhood knew he was a mean spirited boy with way too much anger in him. His family was a good model of why he ended up that way. When police showed to their door for a noise complaint they sic’d dogs on the two cops… after being asked to put the shotgun away. Scotty had this thing where he liked to pick on me more than others for his own reasons.

I remember looking for one of my cats who had been missing for days. It was a nice day out and I had hurried over to where someone saw my cat. Going barefoot didn’t bother me since I was fairly used to it. Didn’t find the cat but ran across Scotty. As soon as he saw me the fire in his eyes consumed him and he began to chase me. My only thought was to go straight for my house since that was the only place that could guarantee my safety. Damn he was a fast runner. I had speed on him as well as a good 25 yard head-start. The first half mile was no problem as I stayed ahead of him only occasionally looking back to check the distance. His persistence was admirable as he kept chasing me. Trouble hit me after that first half as I couldn’t run on the grass any more. I was forced to run on a small dirt field littered with tiny jagged rocks. Each step sent bolts of pain up my legs and I felt the rocks digging into my feet. Something in my mind must have reminded me that the pain he offered would be worse than the rocks. I did make it home finally, and avoided a fight.

In the south you run across stacks of hay bails in developed neighborhoods. It is commonly used for putting around tree beds, in areas where grass is soon to grow, etc. Often times there would be hundreds of the bails stacked in different parts of the neighborhood, and as usual, would become a sort of playground for everyone. Not only could we jump around and play on them, but we could move them about and make our forts and our castles. After a while of playing on one of these stacks, some friends and I had left a sort of ‘well’ in the stack. After my friend Rob left to go home for a minute, Scotty showed up out of nowhere. That all to familiar look crossed his eyes and he approached me quickly. There wasn’t a chance in hell of me running or getting away from him so I took my punishment. Rather than hit me for a while he decided to shove me face first into this ‘well’ and watch me try to get out. It took a while with him kicking the sides of the hay in.

Three months passed before the next major episode with Scotty. A few friends and myself were swimming in the pool at the clubhouse enjoying the cool water on a typically hot day. Low and behold, Scotty shows up for a swim. I was treading in about six feet of water when he dove in and swam toward me. (Remember, I was much smaller then.) I watched him swim past me underwater, and thought he would do just that. Instead, I found myself being pulled underwater suddenly. When your mind panics, it is hard to keep track of time or anything around you as you struggle for air. I have no idea how long I was under, just that my lungs burned in a way I never knew. I guess I either struggled enough to get free or he voluntarily released me. I came up out of the water gasping for air but feeling more discouraged than before. Not a single one of the thirty people around the pool had bothered to help. Only to stare at me in amazement.

Years passed before my curse returned. I lived in New Mexico at the time, in a very nice neighborhood. As it often happens there are always a few bad apples in every place. The local bad apple happened to be an extremely violent kid. It was his nature to lie and steal any chance he got. We all became used to it and began to expect it. Because of his attitude and lack of intelligence he was often being corrected on just about everything he said. Because of his lies, he was always being questioned about his sources. At times when he was caught in one of his bigger lies, he would often try to intimidate everyone into believing him even though he knew it never worked. One night we were all playing basketball when this kid (Neil) decided he would try to pass a big lie on. Almost an hour later he was really upset because no one would believe him so he tried starting fights with each of us, one by one. Neil chose the wrong person eventually and my friend Marc smacked the hell out of him. As soon as this happened I had a feeling Neil would do something rash in return. After being hit he turned and headed into the garage we were near, as I feared, in search of a weapon. My first instinct was to protect my friends so I ran back to my garage in search of something to deter Neil from his course of action. I returned to the court holding a pair of dowel rods ready to defend. I had played around with fighting ‘Florentine’ (fighting with 2 hands and 2 weapons) and felt I could at least stop him. Neil emerged from the garage brandishing a pretty big knife and headed towards my friend Marc seemingly unaware of my presence. Seeing the new threat he took one more step toward me and demanded I leave him alone. My reply was surprisingly calm and smooth as I told him I could not do that. He threw the knife at me instead. All I remember after that is deflecting the knife with one of my dowels and asking him to leave.

College life was decent. I kept to myself usually and made a point to avoid contact with others. I just didn’t like dealing with other people at that point in my life. One day on the way back from some place or another I pulled up to a stoplight a few blocks from my dorm. I sat there at the wheel looking forward waiting for the light to change. Something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye and i glanced over to the vehicle next to me. I did a doubletake and turned a little farther to watch the guy in the jeep next to me yelling and screaming… at me. I know that I hadn’t done anything as far as cutting him off or messing with him on the road. He sat there half banging on his window yelling and cussing at me. The light changed and I drove on thinking it was over. But he followed me. I didn’t want to deal with this whole thing so I sped up and headed to the dorm parking lot as quick as possible. Luckily he underestimated the speed of my little Escort and I got to the parking lot before he did. I managed to pull in and duck into an empty slot while he was making one of the turns. I ducked down and he passed me without event.

I had just logged off the internet and sat back in my dorm room thinking of what to do next. My friend Chad walked in the room and shut the door behind him as he usually did. We sat there and talked about some unimportant issue or another and decided to watch a movie that night. I think I remember some noise outside the door, then quiet, then a knock. I went to the door and Chad looked around the corner to see who was there. A turn of the knob revealed a person holding a large revolver, aiming it at my head. The first thing I thought about was who held the gun, in this case a guy from a few doors down. I had never really liked him, but we had maybe traded half a dozen words since he lived there. Second thing that went through my mind was why, and that is something I still question to this day. The third thing was to duck, and I did that. It was only a split second after I realized the gun was there that I found myself slamming the door shut while diving into the corner. Likewise, Chad had jumped back around the corner looking for cover and then something to fight back with. We sat there behind closed door wondering what would come next. Ten minutes later I checked the door and he was gone, back to his room apparently.

Over three years passed before the next situation. A large group of our friends (several F.U.C.K. writers included BTW) were hanging out at a bar in downtown Denver. It had been a fun night of drinking, pool, darts, and playing on computers (yes, the bar had them). Voyager and I were verbally jousting when he called me a name. Unfortunately it had bigger effects on a fairly small guy near us. The guy jumped up and got in Voy’s face yelling at him for using the word ‘nigger’ even though it wasn’t in the formal context, and it wasn’t directed at him. Voy kept explaining that it was a) none of his business b) not going to be apologized for c) futile to argue with him. While this went on one of the guy’s friends kept back and put his hand in his back pocket. Out came the switchblade ready for action. Major and I stood behind the friend with the knife and waited for him to try to move. Major had his 9mm on his back and he kept a hand near. Things diffused by themselves and we kept enjoying the night… until we left. We had all walked back to the cars and were waiting there for something or another. Major dropped his gun off in the car while he and Voy went a block over to check something out. Twenty minutes later Voy and Major returned from getting jumped by 8 guys, all lead by the original guy who instigated things. Even though they held their own and fought the guys off, things would have gone a lot better had Major kept his gun on him. They weren’t looking for trouble… just more booze.

Since then it has been a steady barrage of minor situations. Nothing too big or bad, but equally annoying and somewhat unnerving. For a while I wondered why I was the target of seemingly random abuse. It took me a while to remember a few times in the past where I had done it, or friends had done it. One time sticks out in my mind above others. A good friend in college who was just like a big brother, a sensei, and best friend all in one once lost it in front of me. He was a very calm and very disciplined guy, one that never let anything bother him. We were driving on the campus near the soccer fields in my little car. Both of us sat there listening to the music enjoying the beautiful day. With no warning, my friend Shawn turned to his right and yelled at the top of his lungs, “You fucking whore“. His anger was directed toward some girl walking the opposite direction. The look of terror on her face indicated that she heard his scream of rage. I sat there in disbelief for a minute before I asked who that was and where he knew her from. The look on his face was that of a timid mouse, as if he was scared of his own shadow. “I don’t know why I did that.” After that incident I thought to myself: “If my ‘sensei’ can lose it like that, anyone can.”

Today, when I leave the house I carry a Rueger P89 9mm with a high capacity clip full of hollow points. It is rare that I leave the house without it somewhere in my possession. Instead of carrying it on my body, I usually have it in a bag which is close to me. I like having the gun for the basic protection it offers me. I know it won’t help me in some situations, but it will in others. And ‘good’ odds are better than ‘no’ odds. I can’t begin to explain the security it gives me knowing that if needed, I can protect my friends and family if a situation arises. That means the world to me… always has, and always will. My friends are my friends and that is the final word. Nothing you or anyone else says to me will make me lose some of the ability to protect them.

Don’t ask why, but I have recently found the need to rationalize why I carry a gun. Not justification for my discomfort, but for someone else’s. And since I respect their opinion, I want to be able to do that… this was it. I guess people can also see some similar traits between Voyager and myself now that I look back at this file. Think what you will…

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