Holidays

Target Practice

Okay, first off, I travel a lot, and I like that. Lots of temp jobs all over the country. So I stopped off at a friend's place in Arkansas between jobs, and it turned out the girl he was living with had this brother Alan who could play guitar. That hooked me right there. So we went out, hit it off real well. Alan says he got me, a guitar and a rifle, what else does he need? I grew up in the middle of nowhere -- this sounds like just the kind of man I could get used to coming home to. I told him I had a job I had to go to in Vermont, but I'd be back. We agreed on New Year's Eve.

Turned out it was hard as hell to get loose from that job. Drove non-stop through snow, ice storms and lightning, but I pulled in at Alan's house on time. To my surprise, his mother was there, too. She did not seem too happy to see me, but I was real road-buzzed and didn't pick up on what was going on. He had beer, so we started in on that. And I had some Jack. At first I figured his mom had just stopped by and would be on her way soon. Couple more beers. Then I guessed we were going out someplace in his truck. Couple shots. Finally I got it right. They weren't going anywhere.

Somehow she had decided that my real interest was in my friend (an ex-co-worker) and not in her son. This was not to be allowed, 'cause my friend made good money and was likely her girl's only ticket out of Arkansas. I tried to explain that I made that money, too, and had no use for anyone there but Alan. I could be his "ticket out."

Well, we'd all been drinking for hours, and I hadn't slept for two days, so the next part was kind of confused. I'm just lucky I'd backed into the driveway like usual and hadn't unpacked anything important. She yelled at me to stay away from her daughter, I yelled back that I didn't want her daughter or her daughter's boyfriend. Alan stuck up for his mom, and I told him this was all bullshit. Then they both started screaming, and he pointed his .22 at me -- I'd watched him load it earlier.

Now I was pissed, so I threw my drink in his eyes, and as I headed for the door, she soaked me with beer. I heard the window glass shatter as he started in with that gun. Lucky again, his truck was between him and my car.

I took off to the closest cheap motel I could find, stinking of alcohol, by now laughing my ass off. Told the clerk, I'm staying here tonight, where can I hide my car?

I never went back. No idea where Alan or his family are now. The really amazing part is that nobody went to jail, nobody got hurt, no damage other than a couple of broken windows. So I guess I got lucky after all.

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Sue Jones