Grant manages to land a new job as a security guard, but stabs truth in the back when asked about his ability to handle a gun. He goes to a firing range to work on his marksmanship and it quickly becomes very clear that he needs some serious help. That help arrives in the guise of a man he has met before under less than ideal circumstances. Soon, however, tensions abate and Grant ends up getting more of a bang than he bargained for.
As a youngster, I never had a chance to shoot anything more powerful than a wooden pistol that, if you were lucky, popped a cork out of the end when you pulled the trigger. My mother was terrified of guns and had done her best to instill the same fear in me. Her efforts had been so successful that I probably would never have gone near the real thing if it hadn’t been for the job I landed recently.
I got laid off at Allied Manufacturing back in July. The job market in southeast Washington sucked, so eight months later I was still without a job and had come to the end of my unemployment benefits. Desperate to avoid hunger and homelessness, I applied for work at Secure Solutions, a company that provided security guards for area banks. When offered a job I stabbed truth in the back and assured the interviewer I knew how to handle a firearm. Since I was due to start work in less than a week, I figured I damn well better learn how to pull a trigger. I sincerely hoped I’d prove to be a fast learner.
I found Crestwick’s Firing Range in the Yellow Pages. The ad claimed I could get excellent marksmanship training at a reasonable rate. There were no other listings for similar businesses, so at least I didn’t have to spend a lot of time and energy comparison-shopping. I jotted down the address and drove out to a strip mall north of town. Crestwick’s was housed in what appeared to be a converted bowling alley. I parked and went inside, determined to take my first step toward learning to handle a weapon without endangering myself or others.
A young woman and two men walked out when I walked in. I jokingly told myself they’d probably been warned I was headed their way and had decided to make themselves scarce to avoid getting winged. Then I saw the notice posted above the cash register and my sense of humor failed me completely. The range closed Friday at five o’clock for President’s Day weekend and wouldn’t re-open until the following Tuesday. I had forgotten all about the damned holiday. I glanced at my watch and after doing some quick math, I realized that I had less than half an hour to hone my marksmanship skills before my new job started bright and early on Tuesday.
The young man at the desk informed me that no instructors were currently available. He was reluctant to let me in at first, but a little wheedling and my willingness to pay for a full hour of practice soon won him over. I left the desk armed with a paper target, a menacing pistol and five clips of ammunition.
I attached the target to the overhead line and sent it to the end of the range. Piece of cake. Then I managed to load the ammunition clip into the pistol’s grip without shooting myself in the foot. So far, so good. Then it all went to hell on me. Try as I might, I couldn’t control the damned gun. Every time I pulled the trigger, my arm jerked from the recoil and sent the bullet astray. Soon the floor around me was littered with shell casings, yet the target remained pristine. The more I practiced, the more nervous I got. I cringed when a bullet hit the ceiling and a ceiling tile hit the floor.
I had just taken aim for about the twentieth time when I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder. I jerked to one side and my gun discharged, sending a bullet into a target three lanes over from mine. “Put the gun down!”
“What?” I spun around to face a man who had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. I recognized him immediately and cringed. It appeared that my day had just gone from bad to worse.
Back in August, shortly after I got laid off, friends asked me if I’d be willing to housesit for them while they were on vacation. “Gosh, Vic, you’re asking me to abandon my studio apartment so I can come and rough it in a three-bedroom house with a pool and hot tub. I’ll have to think about it.”
“How’s about if I throw in the keys to the Mercedes?”
“Well...okay. I guess so.”