The gun shop sign, I have to admit, was shimmering. Other than that, it was a piece of shit, but the sun blessed the thing when I drove up.
I was armed with statistics. My hands were shaky. I’d wanted to do this for a long time. I knew how many kids kill themselves with guns each year. I had citations for the number of housewives killed in Alabama. I knew how many accidental shootings, on-purpose shootings, gun show shootings, and every kind of shootings there were. In America. I didn’t have a clue about foreign country shootings. That was too much information. It took me long enough to plan for this.
It was the sign that drew me in. The quotes on it angered me worse than Geico ads. I just hated the place, the way it would sting into my mind with their gun puns and holiday gun greetings. Happy New Gun Year!
The door to the place seemed yanked from a factory. Inside, it was orange and empty. It smelled like a strip club. Don’t ask me how I know that. I’m no angel.
I expected customers but was very relieved when there weren’t any. Customers, I figured, would be the wild card. I just imagined the testosterone, the strange neo-con angry quotes I’d get back. What I got was emptiness.
I also expected more guns. Or at least, more guns out in the open. There was so much excess of paraphernalia. Vests and hats and magnets and even notebooks. Who wants a notebook with a gun on it? Apparently someone’s child.
No customers were fine with me, but no employees were a different story. I wondered if you just went in, grabbed the gun you wanted, put the money on the cash register and left.
Then I heard snoring. It was a kind of electric snoring. Like a referee was being electrocuted. I saw the human being doing it and it seemed like he was half zombie-elk. He didn’t have a beer gut; he had a beer torso. He was made of beer.
I said something, some sort of a grunt of sound. It seemed too masculine. I told myself to keep calm. It was about to start.
The man woke up and looked at me and closed his eyes again. I waited to see what would happen. He decided to reopen his eyes. I waved. He waved. We stared at each other. He had about ten thousand teeth. He had teeth on top of teeth. I was almost tempted to take one.
I wondered what he saw when he looked at me. Maybe my height. Everyone only sees my height. It’s all I have.
I asked if I could ask him some questions.
He motioned to his ear.
I said it again.
He shook his head and stood up. It was like he’d been grazing in that field of sleep for centuries. Hovering, he pointed to his ear again. He was a big man too. He was a military base of a man. His skin was flat. I wondered if he’d had surgeries, many. He seemed constructed of scraps. He could have been eighty, ninety, a hundred. Maybe two hundred. Hell, more.
I started to ask him how many terrorists had purchased weapons from this store but then just thought to hell with it. I pointed to a stool nearby. He nodded. I sat. There were guns. I looked at them. He didn’t look at them. He’d seen them a billion times before. He had them memorized. You don’t look at something you’ve memorized.
We sat there awhile and then he motioned for me to follow him. He locked the front door and then we went through a back room that was boxes and irony. It was cardboard and space. We got to a back door and exited out into swamp. We all lived on the edge of marsh. It was like cattails owned the world. The sun hit the green water. It smelled good, the sun. We sat like this.
This is the truest story ever written. I wish I could make it up. Although if I made it up, there would have been confrontation and revelation. There would have been guns going off and chimneys on fire and a femme fatale. But it was just me, time, the dead elk, and the staircase of light leading up to the sun.