Wednesday, October 26, 2011
When Cody and Sondra announced that they were building a shooting range at Cody’s old house, Cleve, Johnny, and Max volunteered to help. They stacked landscaping timbers, scrounged from overgrown flower beds whose owners had long driven off, to build a backstop. Since the patio had an overhang and no screens, they designated the edge of the concrete the firing line. The previous owner of Johnny’s unit must have made a hobby of target shooting, as there were plenty of targets to go with the carbine, and those all came along.
“Don’t flinch like that,” Sondra told Cody. He stood at the firing line, Sondra’s revolver in hand, while the others looked on. He had his head pulled back and his body twisted into an odd angle. “Relax. You’ve got earplugs. It’s gonna make some noise, but so does your music.” She poked his ribs.
Cody lowered the pistol, shoulders shaking. “How can I shoot if you’re gonna make me laugh?”
“You’ll shoot better if you’re not tense. It’s just like that shooter game you were showing me…”
“With a really heavy controller!” They both laughed.
“Okay, now let’s try it again,” Sondra said. “Stand up straight, don’t shy back. Just point, pull the hammer back, and shoot.”
Bang! Cody’s arm snapped up; the target acquired a dark spot — below and to the right of the bullseye, but in the rings. Cleve, Johnny, and Max applauded.
“Not bad!” Sondra kissed his cheek. “Try again. This time, keep both eyes open.”
Bang! This time, the spot appeared below and left, but closer to the bullseye.
“Not bad, first time shooting!” Cleve said.
“Yeah, I’ve played video games,” Cody said. “Same idea, but it feels a lot different.”
“Yeah. Now try shooting twice. Take your time, look straight at your target, shoot. Pull the hammer back while your hand drops back to the target, and shoot again. Sondra, show him what I mean.”
“Sure.” Cody handed her the pistol. Bang — bang, about a second apart, and two holes opened in the target, no more than an inch from the bullseye.
Johnny whistled. “Amazes me each time I see it. Hey…” he stood up, holding the carbine. “I wanna try something. You game?” He wiggled the carbine at Sondra.
“Sure! Soon as Cody does the two-shot.” She passed the pistol back. “Don’t concentrate. Just do.”
Cody raised the pistol. Bang … bang, about two seconds apart. The second hole was in the bullseye.
“That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” Johnny laughed.
“Lucky shot,” said Cody, with a big grin, as Sondra hugged him.
“The only difference between lucky and good,” Cleve said, “is how often you get lucky.”
“Good one!” Sondra laughed. “So what do you wanna try, Johnny?”
Johnny picked up an empty soda can from the table and handed the carbine to Sondra. “Hey Cody, you mind if I use that busted table over there?”
“Sure.” Cody shrugged and took Johnny’s seat, pistol pointed at the floor between his feet.
“Hey,” said Cleve as Johnny hoisted the wobbly table from the corner of the patio and carried it into the yard. “Like this.” He took the pistol, opened the cylinder and laid it on the table, pointing away from everyone. “Now you know it won’t go off.”
“But there weren’t any bullets left.”
“I’ve seen plenty of guns go off that didn’t have any bullets in ’em.” Cleve gave Cody a grim look. “When I was a cop, I had to clean up a couple messes after someone thought a gun wasn’t loaded. You don’t wanna trust, you wanna know.”
A V of geese flew overhead as Johnny set up the table in front of the backstop. He paused to watch them for a moment, perhaps thinking about shooting one, as their honking calls drifted to the ground along with a few leaves. “Okay,” he said at last, jogging back to the porch. “Shoot at its mouth.” The can lay on the table, its top facing the firing line. The mouth made a dark O at the bottom of the larger silver O.
“Hm.” Sondra hefted the carbine. “Hey… this thing is lighter than it looks.”
“Yeah, they make a great huntin’ gun,” said Johnny. “Doesn’t wear you out luggin’ it around and it’s short enough that it won’t catch every stray branch. It’s what I use to bring the meat home. No scope, but that’s better when it gets dark anyway.”
“Nice.” Sondra lifted the gun, looked through the sights, and thumbed off the safety. “Live on the line.”
“It’s a bit loud,” Johnny warned her.
“Whatever.” She took aim. Boom! The can flipped off the table, bounced off the backstop, and tumbled to the ground. “Whoo! Safe on!” She stepped away from the line and Johnny jogged out to retrieve the can.
“Sweeeeet!” he yelled, looking at the can. “Check this out, guys!” He jogged back, can in hand. The others gathered around. He held the can with the mouth end facing them.
“Huh. What’d she do, knock it off the table without hitting it?” Max cocked his head.
“Guess again.” Johnny turned the can around; there was a small hole on the other side near the corner. “Right through the mouth, out the other side — from fifty feet. You can’t get much better than that!”
Sondra grinned and patted the carbine. “I like this thing, Johnny,” she said. “You might have a hard time getting it back.”
“No problem — as long as you do the huntin’!”
“Haha, I don’t like it that much!” Sondra handed it back. “But I’d like to borrow it from time to time, if you don’t mind.”
“Sure thing. I was thinkin’ about seeing if anyone left a deer rifle in one of these houses anyway.”
“Two doors down,” Cody said. “Mr. Henderson was a gun freak. He was always showing off some piece or another to my dad. You’ll find something there, I almost guarantee it.”
As it turned out, Henderson apparently drove off with most of his arsenal. He left a deer rifle and two pistols behind, though.