Scratches on a pistol can conjure ghosts. Sometimes smells do the trick. But recently it was those gravel marks on my 45 auto that summoned the spirits. As I shucked the old piece, just to admire its curves, suddenly those gravel scuffs sparked like a muzzle flash in my mind. My entire second decade rose from the past, but specially the last half.
The old phantom crew from high school appeared – Big Lipped Smoker, Ear Ringed Letcher, Tie-dye Ibanez, Slow Rider, Big Hosh, and Round Man- especially Round Man. The vision swirled with the pungent skunkiness of Camels mingled with pot and long-neck Heineken. Or was it those Laurel bush blooms? I’m not sure, but those scratches conjured the end of an era. It all played to the tune of Tuesday’s Gone. There was something of the Round Table’s dissolution about it, Monty Python’s to be sure, instead of Malory’s. Then the spirits flew as fast as they arrived, just like when we all drifted away.
Even so, the sight of Round Man shooting my pistols in precarious poses lingers. I cringe at the sight of my six-shooter doing a dance with the New Year sky. Just before pulling the trigger, he turns his head, anticipating the blast, firing blindly into the dark – boom, boom! I hold my breath and wait for cops to roll up because he’s shot some poor guy way off watching the ball drop. Happily, they never do.
But then there’s the final scene. Somewhere above High Falls, at a shed deep in the night, the crew long gone, Round-Man lifts my stainless 45 to the night sky. From those same flailing wrists, the gun fires and the slide ratchets in flame. But this time, as the pistol discharges, his grip fumbles, and my piece lands with that terrible clink on the gravel. I gaze at him through the dark like that handlebared Texan in Young Guns. “Do you know iron boy?,” my eyes ask. As he scurries for my gun, all I imagine him saying is, “No sir, no sir I don’t.”
Now maybe you’re not amused because you don’t like guns. Perhaps you hate guns and see all this as a prime example for why people shouldn’t own them. I get it, I do. Ham-fisted fools abound! Even so, I pity the declawed cat left to the cold night of blood drinkers. And with 80 million sex slaves worldwide, and growing, those Taken movies are playing in a neighborhood near you. No, guns aren’t the answer, love is. But until the mystical love of God burns in every man’s heart for the other, what do you do when brazen thuggery comes for those you love –call the cops?- after George Floyd?
Whatever your views on the second amendment, surely you can appreciate the power of objects to conjure the past. As I holstered the iron, and those flitting shades departed, I hoped the old crew well. I hoped their souls fat with virtue and not shriveled with vice. For just past middle age, we shall all soon be flitting spirits, truly, not metaphorically. And the only spirit I want to be is one that basks in light eternal, in the good, the true, and the beautiful -things you sometimes faintly glimpse, even in a pistol.