Today is my buddy Mark's birthday. To celebrate I wrote a quick story about the first time he ever shot a gun. It's almost true...
Mark Shoots a Gun
“I got you. I got you right there.”
This was roughly two decades ago, so forgive the lack of pictures and truth, but I do think it’s a good story. My friend Mark and I were fresh out of high school or had just finished our first year of college. Whatever, you get the point, young and dumb. My brother, who is nine years older than me, invited us over to drink beer and hang out with his degenerate friends at his house in the middle of scenic cousin molesting Ardmore, Tennessee. Mark always liked the stories that I told him about my brother Bucky, like how he would burn his garbage in the front yard while quietly singing Hootie and The Blowfish’s “Let Her Cry” to mourn breaking up with his girlfriend ten minutes earlier, one hour before New Year ’s Day. She did cry as she carried her sleeping children to the car to DUI her way home.
Anyway, I had been talking up the trip to Ardmore with Mark for the past couple of days, basically telling him that we were going to that banjo player from Deliverance’s house. Ardmore didn’t disappoint; we were about two miles out from Bucky’s house when an extra from the Mad Max films lead what seemed like 500 sheep in front of us. They never stopped coming and smelled like 500 sheep crapping into an oven and cooking it. I told him that that was the Ardmore dating scene. Mark looked at me like I was out of my damn mind.
After Ardmore’s most eligible bachelorettes had cleared the road, we got to my brother’s house to see him sitting on the porch. There was about nine empty beer cans surrounding him, so we knew he must have been home for at least an hour. Bucky was happy to see us, but he was also happy to see the sack full of hamburgers we had brought with us. My brother was single at the time and had only been eating cans of beans over the sink for the past few months, so fast food burgers was a delicacy at Chez Buckay. We started eating and telling lies when I heard faint singing from inside and out came David. David was an older friend of my brother’s he is one of those outlaw types. Vietnam may have made him crazy, but the drugs and brown liquor wasn’t helping him either. It never seemed to bother David that one of his best friends was literally young enough to be his son, and it didn’t seem to matter to him either that he had to hang out with two wide eyed mesmerized 19 year olds either. David smirked as he collapsed into the folding recliner chair, scattering empty Natty lights over the porch. David took a long pull off of his beer, belched and reached down and grabbed the testicles of a medium sized mutt dog that was passing by. David turned his attention to Mark while holding the dog by the balls and said, “I got you. I got you right there.” Bucky whooped and started doing some bizarre hillbilly dance. Mark slowly chewed his hamburger and pretended not to be weirded out.
Time passed like it does on a Southern front porch in the summer, meaning it doesn’t. After David regaled for the seventh time that he had been drinking with Leonard at Bucky’s house since ten that morning, the talk had turned to guns. Mark, Bucky, and I shared a look. We knew to steer the conversation away from David’s time in the service on account of his frequent flashbacks to Vietnam, that one time lead to a pizza delivery boy being held on David’s porch with a knife because David thought he might have been Charlie, and Charlie doesn’t surf or deliver large pepperoni stuffed crust pizzas. I tried to divert the conversation, “Hey Buck, do you have a gun for Mark to shoot? He’s never shot a gun before.” I didn’t know if that was true or not, but if we were going to get weird, it would help to know where the firearms were. This immediately led to a discussion of which gun(s) Mark should shoot for his first time. It seemed like they had fifty different guns to pick from, like some crazed militia types. To this day, I’m still not sure if they were putting us on or not. The strangest thing was how little they actually consulted with Mark about this. Once it had been decided that a shotgun would be the least likely way that Mark could hurt himself, which proved that news about Kurt Cobain still had not made it to Ardmore five years later, David leaned back in his chair and yelled, “Hey Leonard, get Bucky’s shotgun and some shells out here!” I didn’t think that was such a great idea, arming Leonard was actually a terrible idea, at the time he was considered the drunk of the bunch. That’s like being the most Japanese guy in Japan… You have to be really Japanese. Leonard was really drunk.
Leonard was really drunk and swaying as he handed the gun to Mark and gave him the sage advice of “Don’t point that thing at me.”
That was going to be the entire safety discussion until David said, “Hell, gimme that sonuvabitch. I’ll show you how to do it.” We went out into the yard. David set up some cans, loaded the gun, and showed Mark basic gun care. Leonard had passed out asleep on the porch. As David handed Mark the firearm, the flock of sheep had returned. David grinned and pointed, “Hey, check out the blonde.”
Mark’s forehead crinkled, I’m not sure he understood David. He concentrated and fired the gun. He missed the can, but didn’t hit himself either, so pretty much a success. David, annoyed that someone else was getting attention, took the gun back. “Hey, check this out.” Mark and I retreated to the porch and the blacked out Leonard. David loaded another shell in the gun and started to do some trick shots through his legs and behind his back, hitting a can each time. Mark and I were amazed out how good a shot he was for someone that had been drinking for about nine hours at that point.
David, feeling good about his marksmanship reloaded and was setting up his next shots when I yelled to him, “Hey David shoot Leonard’s ca---“ Before I was able to finish, David swung around and shot out the back window of Leonard’s car. I laughed harder than I ever had before. David set the gun down as he came back on the porch, laughing with us. My brother shook Leonard out of his stupor and told him what had happened. David, through his laughter, apologized. Leonard grinned and said, “Well damn, David, I haven’t paid you for that car yet, so I guess you just shot your own car.”
David, realizing this was true, sat down with a somber look. “Well, I probably shouldn’t have done that.”
Today's song you should know is Flogging Molly's Worst Day Since Yesterday