’Cause A Decade Some How Blew Right Past Me …
By John Connor
I think I’ve told you before — the Memsaab Helena went to college on an athletic scholarship. The ranches of the High Rockies grew some fit, tough girls. Her specialties were the classic Greek events: javelin, discus, hammer, shot put, long jump. She might have made the Olympic team if not for an unfortunate suspension. She and her coach were on the sidelines watching another university’s decathlon star competing. She shook the javelin in her hand and asked, “Want me to take him out? I can nail him easy from here.” On the other side of her coach was a reporter — with his recorder runnin’.
Anyway, there was this trick she used to do at competitions; a real crowd-pleaser. A trainer’s table about 30″ high would be carried onto the field, and she would crouch beside it. Now imagine this 6′ redheaded Amazon exploding upward from a flat-footed crouch to land on top of the table cocked and locked, then hurling that javelin some amazing distance. Crowds went wild — and so did I.
Time passed and she stayed in fighting shape, frequently bustin’ out her javelins and discuses. At family gatherings, folks would demand “the table trick” and by golly she delivered, usually on a stout picnic table. What a girl …
Reluctantly, she yielded again last week at a big family-and-crew barbecue. It had been years, but she did it! — and still looks like a champion.
Done With That
Others watched the arc of the javelin. I saw her get off the table — carefully; not her usual jump. Her smile seemed weak and her knees rubbery as she excused herself and wobbled around the side of the house. I followed. She was bent over, one hand braced against the bulkhead, not-quite-dry heaving. Ever the oaf, I laid my hand on her back and asked, “Sprain something?”
“I think,” she whispered, “I sprained … organs. Is that possible?” I offered my shirt. She dabbed her lips and straightened slowly. Oaf redux, I asked, trying for a laugh, “’Member that time you jumped off and the picnic table collapsed, like you’d killed it?” She said Yes, managed a grin, and snapped her fingers.
“We were celebrating your first Guncrank Diaries column! When was that?” Before I could think, she continued, “I hope somebody got video, ’cause I’m done with that. Throwing, okay; table-trick, no more!” Then family called …
The next day I got a letter from a guy who’s been readin’ Guncrank from Day One. He wrote, “It’s been over a decade, you know. Your kids were teenagers.” There was more, but I was stunned dumb. A decade? I checked. Yup; mid-2003, and the 10-year mark had whistled right past me. He asked for an update.
You Asked For It
Our son, introduced to you as “the Refrigerator Raider,” raids his own ’fridge now. After graduating from state college he went on to a big university we called “FancyPantz U,” where he reported he was “surrounded by sissies and socialists.” But he done good anyway. After beatin’ the campus cops at a USPSA match, they invited him to join their team, use their range and stash his guns in their lockup. A year later they quietly gave him his own key.
He works hard, gets paid well, shoots regularly in IDPA, Bull’s-eye and 3-Gun, and instead of tuckin’ $20’s into pole-dancers’ thongs, he upgrades his reloading equipment, which resembles Lake City Arsenal.
Amazingly, Little Red graduated college too. Her professors found her “bright, determined and rather intimidating” — a quote from one of ’em. Ha! That’s our girl! The company she works for discovered her true talent. They deal in “critical life-support products.” If the goods aren’t delivered on time, people can die. When the CEO smells sloth or incompetence, he fires Little Red at it like a bullet. She’s known as “that hot-shot trouble-shooter outta home office;” liked by the hard-working, feared by the slackers.
If you see a fiery red SUV streakin’ down the highway piloted by a fiery red girl, pull over and brace for turbulence. She visits often; says home base is “The one place I can still be nine years old, right, Daddy?” Damn. She still owns me.
Old hardcore Handgunner readers remember my Uncle G, Commander Gilmore. He wrote The Ten-Ring for years, and handed off the space to me when Roy wasn’t lookin’. He has more artificial joints than a Transformer, still writes Back Blast in Shooting Industry Magazine, and can still crush beer cans in his hands — full, sealed ones. Don’t let him give you a “noogie;” it’ll be permanent.
Uncle John’s scars are now like Egyptian hieroglyphics. He didn’t go to Marine “Boot Camp.” It was “Barefoot Camp” then, before boots were invented. He reminisces about when he was Yoda’s drill instructor at the Jedi Knight Academy. Four doctors who told him he’d be dead in a year are long deceased, and he swears he didn’t do it.
Three cross-country moves, two multi-state moves, two in-state moves. Way too many hospitals. If I had as many surgical instruments stickin’ outta me as I’ve had stickin’ in me over the past 10 years I’d look like a sci-fi sea anemone. My dog, Sancho Panza, has mysteriously gone gray in the muzzle — and so have I. Life is good.