Today is Memorial Day. Growing up, this was a day when your grandfather would pile us into the family’s 1991 Chevrolet Lumina, aka the Chevrolet WeThinkJapaneseBulletTrainsAreAwesome, and haul us down to the local parade. There, we’d eat hot dogs, wave flags at soldiers and stare in awe at the long-awaited showcase of the event: the dudes in Klingon makeup.
Klingons were in the Memorial Day parade because they’re warriors. Obviously.
Because of the emphasis on military, whenever I think of Memorial Day I think of guns. My experience with firearms is rather limited. I shot a shotgun one time at summer camp. I was “aiming” for an orange disc flying through the air, but in reality my only goal was to pull the trigger and not end up on my ass. Mission accomplished. Did I hit the disc? “You were real close,” the counselor lied to me reassuringly.
So, I haven’t shot many guns. But your uncles and grandfather have. Back at the house, your grandfather has a whole locker full of weapons. We’re talking rifles. Pistols. Bows. Knives. Your uncle even has a replica AK-47. In Kentucky, this is not unusual. It makes a certain bit of sense. If terrorists or North Koreans or zombies ever do invade America, the very first place they’ll go is the rural outliers of the middle of the country where a meager chunk of our population resides, not the ports or the vital industrial centers along the coasts.
Anyway, the fact that our family has a gun cabinet is significant, Blue. I am now going to recount to you the time your uncle accidentally shot himself in the shoulder.
To begin to understand how such a thing could be possible, you must understand that your uncle is accident-prone. Some might say that he’s a klutz, but I do not believe this to be true. A klutz is clumsy and uncoordinated, two things your uncle is not. Need proof? He can spit a whole wad of chewing tobacco into the tiny opening of a mountain dew bottle while stabbing someone in the back on Call of Duty.
Not a klutz. Accident-prone. He almost has a special skill at it. As in, he could probably get a job as a consultant for companies testing to see if their product can be safely handled. If it can’t, your uncle would stumble onto the way. There was the time he fell into a horse stall while trying to pet a horse. The time he dropped a sheet of fiberglass on his arm and nearly sheared it off. The time he wrecked my car into a bridge while trying to avoid a deer. Your uncle has had many accidents, and there are many more entries to fill with his misadventures.
For now, how he shot himself.
It started like most accidents in rural areas start. Something like this:
Uncle: “Hey, want to shoot some bullets into the ground?”
Me: “I’m bored. Yes.”
We grabbed a pistol, one of the cool ones you see gangsters hold sideways while shooting, and trudged out to the firing range, which consisted of a target painted on the back of a styrofoam plate, taped on to the end of a hay bail. The hay bail was notched into the side of the backyard hill.
He showed me how to load it, how to take off the safety and how to aim. Then, he handed it over. I loaded a bullet, took aim and pulled the trigger. I was “real close.” Then he takes the pistol, jams a magazine into the end of it, and says, “Or you can do it like this.”
He squeezed off six rounds quickly while slowly walking towards the hay bail as if he were in a shootout. After the last shot, he doubled over and started clawing at his back.
“WHAT? What happened?”
He started doing the pain dance around the yard. You know, the one where you get rid of the pain by “walking it off.”
“It got me. It got me.”
“What got you?”
“The bullet. It got me.”
Sure enough, the bullet did get him. It sat there on his shoulder, a small glob of metal pressed up against his skin. (Naturally, we were shirtless. This is the best and most proper way to shoot firearms.) Luckily, it didn’t break skin, and we quickly began breaking down the how as we cleaned up the what. We came to one of two options.
a) Your uncle was a mutant with bulletproof skin. Invisible Magneto proved this to us by bending the bullet back into his shoulder upon discharging.
b) The bullet hit a rock on the hill behind the target and part of it ricocheted back to land on his shoulder.
We reluctantly went with B after strongly considering A and how awesome it would be to have a mutant in the family.
After our short but thorough forensics investigation, the skin on his shoulder began bruising and we went inside to get some cold compresses. Your uncle was fine after a few days with no ill effects of the encounter. He has the best Guardian Angel out there. Or the laziest Grim Reaper.