He’s got a gun!

At some point in the late 80’s, I purchased a gun at Wal-Mart. No, not a real gun. Just a BB gun. But it was a very realistic-looking, shiny metal gun. It cost around $20.00, plus the several thousand BB’s that I purchased along with it. I’ve seen a very similar BB gun at Wal-Mart recently, but it’s all plastic and fake looking. Mine looked real and that’s the important part. Those BB’s were a lot of fun too. We’d throw hundreds of them into crowds at school or flick them at peoples’ heads in the movies.

Anyway, I carried this gun with me just about everywhere for the next year or so, as long as I could conceal it good. My friend Mike and I shot at everything we could think of. Street signs, buildings, cars, trees, whatever. We’d hang out by the train tracks near his house and shoot at the passing frieght trains. A few times an Amtrak would come by and we’d shoot at it. I remember a guy standing on some platform on the outside of an Amtrak as it passed, extremely pissed at our shooting the train, yelling all kinds of threats at us. No, we didn’t shoot him.

After I bought a car, I started keeping the gun in it so that it was always available to entertain us. Many times, while at a stoplight and with the windows down, Joe would pull the gun out and aim it at my head, screaming at me, “JUST SHUT UP AND FUCKING DRIVE THE CAR MOTHERFUCKER.” And I’d play a frantic, crying hostage as people in nearby cars looked at us in either horror and/or confusion. Luckily nobody owned cell phones yet or I’m sure we would have had all kinds of police excitement.

One day Mike and I were at a nearby train yard, in some kind of abandoned rusted out trolley car, shooting bottle rockets out of the windows. Mostly in the direction of a nearby motel called the Lewis & Clark Motor Lodge. At night, very few of the neon lights on their sign worked, making it Lewis & Clark Orge. Which is almost like Orgy. Which was somehow funny when I was a teenager. Anyway, we ran out of bottle rockets and started walking towards Mike’s house. That’s when I notice a cop car, speeding across the grass field towards us with his lights on. And of course I have my gun tucked into the wasteband of my pants, in the back.

He interrogates us for a few minutes and asks us if we’d been shooting off fireworks or shooting at anything, which we denied. He had us turn out our pockets to make sure we had no fireworks. I’m sure one of us must have had a lighter on us and I don’t remember what was said about that. Maybe I had it in a pack of cigarettes so it looked innocent. He finally seemed satisfied enough and seems about ready to let us go. Then he asks Mike to pull up his shirt. Mike does and does a spin for the cop. Then it’s my turn. Shit. I knew this was the end. I pulled up my shirt, turned around once and then faced the cop. He says, “Okay, get out of here.” I guess I didn’t pull my shirt up enough and he didn’t see it. How lucky was that?? So we headed back to the tracks to shoot more things.

My gun also made several unexpected appearances to unsuspecting passengers of mine. While working at Long John Silvers, my manager asked if I’d mind driving over to K-Mart to pick up the district manager who was waiting in the automotive department because of car trouble. I was so happy to have 15 minutes away from cooking shrimp that I didn’t even think to clear off my passenger seat or it’s floor. The district manager was waiting outside for me so I had to quickly clear a spot for him. First the seat and the district manager got a good look at my gun which was hiding under a bunch of papers and stuff on the seat. I’m like, “Uh..heh…it’s not real. Just a BB gun.” Then I had to clear the floor for him which happened to be littered with all kinds of trash, including Pepsi and Beer cans. Not to mention that I had a clothes bar in the back with all of my clothes hanging on it. I’m sure this guy was feeling really safe getting into a car with me.

We had a pleasant 5 minute conversation as I drove back to Long John Silver’s. I parked in the back and we walked to the back door. I wedged my fingers into the crack around the door and pulled it open, holding it open for him as he walked in. My manager showed up and jokes, “Ohhh, I see Brad is performing a security violation!” Turns out that even though that’s how I got into the building every day, we weren’t supposed to do that and the manager knew it. He told me later that day that he was written up because of it. Soon after I quit that job he was fired. I wonder if my “security violation” wasn’t partly responsible for it. I saw him several months later working at Taco Bell. I jokingly asked if I could have a job and he said, “Yeah right.” I suddenly remember his name being Edward Hogan. I wonder if he’s still got a career in the fast food industry. He must be 50 by now.

When I worked at Circle K in League City, some lady locked her keys in her car. I tried to help her locate the secret key hidden in the magnetic box underneath the car but had no luck. She tried to call home and there was no answer. So I offered to give her a ride home so she could get the spare key and come back with it. As I cleared off the seat, there’s my gun again. I don’t know why I kept it on the front seat so often in Texas. It’s not like I was using it much once I moved away from Illinois. The lady had a concerned look and I told her it was fake and threw it in the back.

Anyway, more appearances of my gun in my life. Hmmmm, what else. I know that my gun was present during my Arkansas Traffic Stop where a fat cop demanded to know if I had any firearms in my car and I told him no. Luckily my car was so packed full of junk that they didn’t happen to find it.

My BB gun disappeared from my life in 1992 while I was visiting Illinois. Chris Tomkinson and I were out causing random trouble when we pulled into a secluded East Alton parking lot. Chris went behind a building to piss and I was just hanging around the car when two cop cars pulled into the lot, wanting to know what we were up to. I think we were there for about an hour, trying to convince them that we were innocent. They split us up, read us our rights and made us tell them everything we’d been doing that night. Hoping to find discrepancies, I guess.

The used car lot next to us had been getting a lot of breakins recently and they thought we were there to steal some car stereos. Looking into my car, the cop noticed that I had a brand new equalizer sitting on the floorboard, hooked up and working. I’d purchased it just a few days before, but the cop assumed that I must have stolen it out of a car and we were back here installing it into my car before we left. He asks if he can search my car and I tell him sure. By then I’d completely forgotten about the gun. I think it was hidden up inside of the seat. The cop found it and exclaims, “Well what do we have here!” He tosses the gun onto the roof of my car, leaving a scratch. My precious 1979 Dodge Colt was scratched! As he pulls the gun out and holds it up, the look of dispair in Chris’ face is so comical. That was the first time I’d ever seen somebody say, “Oh, shit!” without speaking.

The cop locks us both in the back of one of the cop cars while they continue to search my car. By this point I really need to piss and I tell Chris that I’m going to pee in the floorboard. He begs me not to, completely not understanding how hilarious that would be. Looking back, I probably missed my only opportunity to pee in the back of a cop car. What are the odds that next time I’m arrested, I’ll need to pee really bad. Dammit Chris.

In the end, the police let us go. We weren’t really doing anything, after all. The police tells me that he’s going to keep the gun and I tell him that’s fine. He says he may stop by to see me tomorrow about the equalizer since I’d told him that I had a receipt for it. I really did, too, along with all the packaging for the thing. So anyway, those are my gun stories. All the ones I can remember. Maybe I’ll think of some more in the morning and add them.

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