“I hope we do not forget the pain and anguish and sense of loss felt by those all over the country who have been the victims of violence at the hands of illegal aliens,” said Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who read a short list of people who had been shot by undocumented immigrants. Better background checks, he contended, “would not have stopped many of the circumstances I raised, but a wall, a barrier on the southern border may have, and that’s what we’re fighting for.”
3-3 at half. This Super Bowl was turning out to be a real snoozer. No one had even got their bell rung. My wife wouldn’t stop asking Why they did certain things. Every play — Why’d they do that? Why why why? Top it off she forgot to buy the ranch dip. Imagine sitting through that horrible Maroon 5 half-time thing with no ranch dip. Midway through the 4th quarter I’d had enough. I went into the bedroom and pulled out my dad’s old Mossberg 12-gauge he gave me before he died. I ran my hands down the cold gray barrel. Talk about comfort.
I thumbed the box of shells open. Ask me why one more time, I thought. Just one more time.
“They just did a thing,” my wife cried. “Why are you in the bedroom?”
That was it. I pumped a shell into the chamber and turned toward the living room, when who should step forward and place himself in my path but Wall.
“You look up to no good there partner,” Wall said. “In fact, you look downright about to be delinquent.”
I sighed and nodded toward the Mossberg.
“Tell me about it,” Wall said, and I did. About the low score, how the stupid Patriots were probably going to win again, how my wife kept asking Why and that there wasn’t any ranch dip.
Wall nodded somberly. Wall said he understood and that things sure did sound rough.
“But shooting her’s not going to solve your troubles,” Wall said. “Why don’t you eject that shell and go out for a jog instead? Clear your mind, get some perspective.”
Maybe Wall was right. Probably my wife didn’t deserve to be shot just because she didn’t understand the game of football. It’s a complicated game if you didn’t grow up watching it. The ranch dip thing was annoying but it wasn’t her fault Maroon 5 were so terrible.
I ejected the shell and put away the gun. I laced up my sneakers and ran all the way around the lake and back. Along the way I sweated out most of my anger and frustration. After I showered I made my wife an ice cream sundae to show her how much I love her.
Thanks, Wall, for helping put things in perspective.
Little Sylvia was bored. Daycare had been cancelled but her mother wouldn’t let her play outside in the snow because it was too cold. She’d been stuck indoors all day. She’d watched TV and played with her toes and had put pretty pink bows around the cat’s collar, but now there wasn’t anything left to do. She decided to play pyramids and was looking through her mother’s closet when she found the loaded Beretta handgun in the old shoe box.
Little Sylvia examined the gun. It was silver and shiny and very heavy. The gun was shaped like an L, which was one of the easier letters to draw, not like little “e,” which was especially difficult. Sylvia turned the barrel toward her and looked down the dark hole of the muzzle. What could be down there? And what did that little part that looked like the kickstand on her bike do?
“Excuse me, miss,” Wall said. “but you look poised to cause an unfortunate outcome.”
Little Sylvia looked up. She didn’t understand most of those words and really wanted to find out what was down the end of that black hole. Wall smiled at her kindly and tipped the brim of his ten gallon hat.
“Why don’t you come over this way,” Wall motioned to her with his hands. “And I’ll hold onto that there firearm.”
Sylvia walked across the room and extended the gun to Wall. She sat on his knee and he gave her a green apple Jolly Rancher to suck on. Wow was it tart! Wall put the gun back in the shoe box and then helped Little Sylvia build a fort with some old blankets stretched across the ottoman.
Leslie had torn her ACL while lifting a box at work, and before she could have surgery the L&I paperwork needed to be processed. That was taking a long time, and the only thing that helped dull the pain in her knee was the Oxycontin her doctor had prescribed. A couple weeks later she got into an argument with her supervisor, who wanted to ignore her doctor’s note and insisted she stay and work overtime. For her intransigence Leslie was fired from her job at the packaging center. Because her employment was at-will, she was terminated on the spot and received no severance or additional health care coverage. A week later Floncy ran off with a dishwasher named Delilah who worked at the Shari’s off Alliance Ave. The alternator on the Honda went out and notices from the utility company threatening to cut off her power began to pile up. It was a black time for Leslie and things kept getting darker.
One morning she got up and went to make coffee but there wasn’t any in the house.
I can’t even afford coffee no more.
This realization pushed Leslie over a precarious edge. She went into the garage and dug through things Floncy hadn’t taken when he’d left. Behind the milk crate of old Penthouse magazines and his bin of insulated drink holders was his rifle. She didn’t know what type of rifle it was but Floncy had used it to shoot varmint.
“Shit ever gets real,” he’d told her while pointing at the squirrels running the branches of the backyard oaks, “this here will be our survival.”
Leslie wasn’t certain how to put shells in the gun but fortunately Floncy had left the rifle loaded. If Leslie positioned the butt of the rifle at a 45-degree angle where the garage wall met the floor she could get her mouth around the barrel and still reach the trigger with her thumb. She swallowed and took a deep breath. She opened her mouth and leaned forward. The metal was hard and cold in her mouth. She closed her eyes and inched her hand down the barrel toward the trigger guard. The sight on the end of the barrel pushed hard into the softness behind her upper palate. She rested her thumb on the edge of the trigger and tried to think of something positive, a final good thing she could have. Nothing came to mind.
“Woah there, now. Seems to me you’re about to make a big mistake.”
Leslie opened her eyes. Wall was kneeling beside her with a gentle smile across his face. He looked kindly into her eyes.
“What say you retract yourself and we talk this out a bit?”
Slowly, Leslie removed her thumb from the trigger and slid her mouth off the barrel. Wall took the gun, flipped the safety, and set it away over near the milk crate of Penthouse magazines. He motioned Leslie to a plastic lawn chair, and as he sat down beside her he handed her a steaming hot cup of coffee.
“Now I know things don’t always look so good,” Wall said. “But why don’t you sit back and let me tell you a story.”
Wall offered Leslie a cigarette to go with her coffee. He took off his hat and told her all about the caravan that was coming up from the south.
“Liberal media, you see, will tell you that they’s just a bunch of displaced people in search of refuge, this caravan is. Worse, they’ll even tell you that these folks are displaced because of violence in their countries, violence that they’ll say is caused by a drug war. And when you ask them about that they’ll tell you there’s a drug war because Americans — good, patriotic, hard-working Americans like you and me — can’t stop cramming drugs into our faces.
“At this point you might start thinking this isn’t sounding right, but that won’t stop them socialists who run the media. They’ll go even further and tell you that the reason decent, hard-working Americans can’t stop pumping drugs up their noses is because of capitalism. Now I can see you looking askance at me, Leslie, and I don’t blame. But them socialists’ll tell you that capitalism grinds people down to puppy chow. That it somehow fragments society and derives people of their decency. That magically it converts them into anxious, fearful drones who need to cram drugs in their faces to keep from going looney. They’ll tell you all this to say that’s why folks use drugs, because of capitalism. On and on they’ll go. On and on.
“But smart people like you and me, honey, we know better than that. We know that’s all a bunch of bunk. In fact, that sort of talk sounds an awful lot like Al Qaeda and the like. Them sorts that are coming up in the caravan. And we’ll know that’s why we need Wall, Leslie. We need Wall to keep out the terrorists with their socialist, Karl Marxy talk. We need Wall to protect our borders because we ain’t about to let them terrorists win, now are we Leslie?”
Leslie drank her coffee and rubbed her jaw. She didn’t understand a lot of things but she sure didn’t think no drug war could be blamed on decent, hard-working Americans like herself. And all that talk about capitalism sure did sound a lot like 9/11, which she’d sworn she’d never forget. She turned to Wall.
“Thank God you were here, Wall.”
Wall smiled. He knew things would be alright now.
An eagle soared high above the garage in a streak of red, white and blue tail feathers. The sun shone bright and clear over America. For today, Floncy’s rifle would remain unused.