Call of Duty – SHORT STORY

half eaten birthday cake

      I HAD JUST turned eight, the puffs of birthday cake candles still seemed to linger days after the party. Sweets, toy cars, money from relatives and a new bike represented a hike in my yearly stock. But the real present was behind glass display cases. I needed help from Dad to see the items, standing on his boots for a better view.

A gruff old feller wearing a cap came over, smiling with effort. There was no telling how many years he’d been on the other side. “You must be eight! You take your time kid – you choose – don’t let your old man  sway you!” He chuckled, my Dad smiled. “We have a special 10% discount for birthday boys, and anything out of that case,” he indicated to the left, “is 20% off. Let me know when you’ve decided.”

“Thanks,” said Dad, as the owner ambled away over towards the corner where a younger version of him was sorting through boxes, a brown haired guy with a scruffy beard and t-shirt testing belly.

“Do you see one you like?”

I nodded, unsure, eyes now fixated on the walls, where slick dark coloured dreams rested on brackets. I felt Dad’s stare, looking up at him, knowing they were out of the price range, sensing his eyes redirecting me to the smaller ones.

“That one I said,” with confidence after a brief to and fro between the displays.

“Ok. Good choice!” He seemed pleased at my decisiveness and looked at the old man who came over like a waiter seasoned to read searching looks, adjusting his cap.

“Well kid,” he rested his hands on the glass, “what’s your decision?” His eyes flashed momentarily as he looked at me with his grandpa smile, close mouthed.

“That one!” I said jabbing my glass smudging finger at the display case, my skin still coated in the sticky sweat of gelatine sweets.

The old man followed my gesture and tapped his finger on the glass. “That one?”

“No!” I said excitedly. “The one higher up.”

“Oh, this one?”

“Yeah!” I nodded vigorously, balling my hands together as the display was unlocked, the shelves pulled backwards and the old man placed my birthday present on the counter, all slick black metal. My eyes were wider than the Grand Canyon.

“Go ahead, get a feel for it,” he encouraged. Dad moved his lips in agreement with their sentiments, nodding towards it.

As I pulled it towards me, it was lighter than I thought it would be, but still heavy. I inspected it for minutes as Dad and the oldie chatted. I rotated it, manipulating it, hefting it, a manic grin taking hold.

“Are you sure that’s the one you want?” Dad said.

I nodded dumbly, handing it over to him and we walked towards the register. All my classmates already had one, I was the last to hit eight years old. “I can’t wait to show my friends at school!” I said, both of them laughed, Dad tussling my hair as my present was boxed up and placed in a bag.

“Here, Leon, where’s the boxes of twenty twos?” The old man turned to Leon who scratched his nose in the doorway of the stockroom. “Part of the special offer..”

Raising eyebrows knowingly, Leon went away then seconds later handed a small box to the old man who scanned it and placed it in the bag. “That’s on the house,” oldie said, “but I still gotta scan it.”

Dad smiled in appreciation as the excitement became too much for me, the bag within reach, Dad producing a credit card. I looked at the old man, and his navy cap, noticing the red embroidered writing on it – Second Amendment First.

They exchanged pleasantries, then Dad slid the bag towards me handles first. In my excitement I nearly forgot to say thanks. Soon we were outside on the sidewalk, sun beaming down at me like Dad was, his hand loosely dangling to guide me. “Remember what I said earlier?” he said.

“Don’t use all the bullets up at once!” We finished the latter half in unison. I felt ten feet tall, not four foot five and a quarter. I looked down at my bag, peeking through the handles. I really hoped the extra Call of Duty coaching sessions paid off.

lion around 2

32 Comments

    1. Well, getting a handgun would be appreciated by most kids, they are great to fire on a range.
      But a deadly weapon at 8? I don’t think most adults are capable of being responsible enough to use them.

      1. True, I would never trust a child with a gun without heavy supervision. Kids are sociopaths. But just having a gun so I could shoot down at the range with my dad form some of my favorite memories. Depends on what you’re going to use it for I guess and who you’re getting it from

  1. This is a really interesting approach on this – through tradition and eyes looking upon it as a toy. I like the story, Fionn! I like how you waited on the reveal and then pieced the crumbs out. Nice.

  2. Sadly, this is not much of an exaggeration in certain parts of the USA. I have personally been at family Christmases where certain members gave each other bullets as presents. It’s pathetic and surreal. Luckily, the vast majority of Americans, even many conservatives, are in favor of stronger gun control But with the current political situation, where the NRA and the Koch Brothers are spending massive amounts of money (thanks to the Supreme Court’s horrendous Citizens United ruling) to elect far-right “politicians” who will then vote against their own constituents, the House and the Senate do not currently reflect the will of the people.

    It’s a ridiculous situation, and there are more complications as well (voting rights violations, absurd and illegal changes to voting districts, people who don’t grasp the concept of “separation of church and state”, a certain ugly thing called rampant racism, on an on). But the bottom line is that a minority faction is in a powerful position and is refusing to allow change, blockading any attempt at gun control. Drastic steps are going to be necessary to fix this mess, which is why, as I type this, the Democrats are in the midst of a sit-in protest in the House of Representatives because the Republicans will not even allow a VOTE on any gun legislation.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to hijack your post. Your short story is excellent and sly, hitting a little closer to home than you might have realized when it comes to some parts of our culture. I do hope the rest of the world realizes that most Americans are decent and fair-minded. But the right-wing crazies (who are flocking around Donald Trump at the moment) are not decent people. Unfortunately, some of those crazies are currently in control of legislation in this country, and that’s what the world sees…

    1. It must be tough not being a crazy and living there.
      It seems as if nothing will change regards to guns. Such a vast industry one of the biggest on the planet; simply they do not care as long as they make multibillion dollar profits. I hope something happens, but I also realistically find it hard to see how that will change especially with so many pockets being lined with gun money. billions dollar industries don’t go down regardless of outside pressure.
      It’s one industry that could cease to exist tomorrow and the world would be a better place.
      I hope something happens and soon but like any realist, what is the best possible outcome?

  3. Love the blend of the child’s innocent enthusiasm and the serious nature of the story (the kid is getting a gun for a gift! lol) Really great comedic touch.

  4. This is something that feels chillingly close to reality… not a vision but reality… Coming from a country with almost the same number of guns per capita but with much less cannot really understand the importance, except it it is like here… really a childish wish for your toys.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on it.
      I take it Sweden is like many other countries where hunting is a big thing? That’s pretty common across a lot of countries, but the access to handguns and the culture surrounding them is what I think is most damaging in US. Almost an immature desire to recreate the wild west.

      1. Hunting and sport shooting is very common… but there are strict rules on where and how to store them… and if you don’t follow them you are liable… Buying a gun to protect yourself is never a reason… fairly simple rules. We have shootings where criminal shoot criminals with illegal guns… but I guess statistics is easy to find.

      2. With the hunters is know (not in UK) there is a respect of guns and they are for a clear purpose – for meat.
        For self protection seems paranoid – although if I lived in the wilderness of America maybe I’d think twice.
        As for criminal on criminal shootings, I guess that’s to be expected.

      3. Very true, perhaps even woodland bears and a few crocs too, but I might expect to be eaten by a hungry bear and want protection, but around people that shouldnt be the case.

      1. Not until the reference to black metal object. That bit made my stomach lurch a little, but I suspected there may be a dark turn ahead cos it was so sunny & it was written by you! 😉

      1. Yeah to an extent. I’m sure there are plenty US citizens who don’t like the gun laws, but the strongest lobbying is done by pro-gun people and they let it be known how they feel. It’s all batshit crazy.

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