Home, Home On The Range

The message from His Illuminated Immenseness Roy-Boy was terse as a curse: “Drive 322 miles to [BigUgly] City*. Pick up [XXX] pistol** at FancyPantz Sporting Club & Range***. Shoot, test, group, chrono loads, make copious notes, and ship pistol FedEx next morning, OYT.” “OYT” is his shorthand for “Or You’re Toast.” Thanks, Roy.

I’d never been to the FPSC&R before; not my kinda range. The road in was paved n’ striped! Broad paths of machine-made burgundy pea-gravel were flanked by double rows of rocks, the inner row painted white, and the outer row battleship gray — and lacquered! A glass control tower sat atop the main rangehouse, manned by some clean-shaven dude with aviator shades, a headset and microphone, and enormous binoculars. Somewhere close, I thought, there’s a ring-knockin’ Annapolis grad runnin’ this show.

Soft muzak, like a chamber orchestra on Quaaludes playin’ the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” wafted from hidden speakers. A mellow baritone cut in with “Brass boy to Section C-12!” Instantly this ancient dude who looked like Gabby Hayes wearing Walter Brennan’s castoff bib overalls appeared and ran a cordless vacuum “brass sucker” down the spotless shooting line. He had hair like fried steel wool and eyebrows like electrocuted mice. Goggling my battered boots and bristly jaw with his one good eye, he gave me a big 5-toothed grin.

“Connor, ain’tcha? Look like yer pitcher in Handgunner. M’name’s Moss.” He vanished through a Hobbit-door, leaving a scent of Hoppe’s Number 9, fried bologna and swamp-butt. I smiled, and then noticed the shooters had wrinkled their noses in distaste.
By John Connor

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