First Draft Excerpt from Gifts Of The Mother

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Once she was gone, I took advantage of being able to manipulate my own schedule and decided to head for the range. But twelve spare rounds beyond what was in the magazines wasn't going to get me much practice. Also, I wanted an instructor to critique me if there was one available, so I grabbed a bag for the ammunition I could pretend I'd stashed the pistol in. I chose Marv's, a store out in The Valley that had a range. Traffic was headed the other way, so it wasn't a problem to get there.

I didn't know the man at the counter when I arrived. I think it had been about five years since the last time I'd been here, so that wasn't unusual. "Hi, got any forty-five ACP?"

"Lucky dog! We just got a shipment - not even on the shelf yet!"

"What's it run?"

"Box of 50 or 250?"

I considered. I'd put out at least fifty rounds in practice if I had them, probably closer to a hundred. "Two hundred fifty."

He told me. I didn't bother trying not to wince. I could afford it, but it seemed the price jumps got worse every time, and this was worse than ever before. But I nodded.

"Need your driver's license."

"Here." He made his entries, rang up the sale. "Need to wait a few for the check to come back." The entry took long enough I knew there had to be a generous allowance for the clerk's time in the price. While waiting, he went back to what he'd been doing before. Finally, the computer beeped, he checked the screen and passed me my purchase. I was glad I already had an entry in the state system - otherwise it might have taken days.

"Range open yet?" It still lacked ten minutes to nine.

"Not officially. But Glinda's there, so she'll probably take you. Go over and knock."

So I did. A tiny woman of about forty answered. A true Californian, she was that shade of brown that could have come from any racial stock or all of them. Darker brown hair, jeans and a long-sleeved flannel shirt. The air leaking out from the range inside was noticeably colder than ambient.

"You must be Glinda. The man at the counter said to knock."

"Yeah, Mom's a Wizard of Oz fan. Come on in."

"I like your mom without ever meeting her," I said, showing the wedding ring to indicate it wasn't intended as flirtacious.

"That's Glinda The Good. I'm Glinda The Great."

"Nice. I'm Mark. Don't suppose you have an instructor here this early?"

"Long as no one else is here, I'll keep an eye on you. What's your issue?"

"Been a couple years since I shot. Want to check at least basic skills. Had a threat, so just in case. Need to rent ear protection."

She rang me up, handed me a pair of muffs. "Basic home defense?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, lane four, basic targets should be in the table. But how about you dry fire a few first?"

"Sure." If she wanted to save me money for ammunition, that was fine with me. I clipped the target, ran it out. "OK to draw?"

"Go ahead." I got the gun out of the holster.

"Nice rig. Didn't even notice it."

"Had it made special." She nodded.

I kept the weapon pointed downrange while I pulled the slide back to check the chamber, made certain it didn't feed while the slide went back forward. "We good?"

"Not bad for being a couple years out of practice. Go ahead."

I got into stance, pointed at the target, took it off safe, and pulled the trigger. The 'click' of the hammer falling echoed. I cocked the gun again, repeated the dry fire.

"You're jerking the trigger. Standard problem for someone coming back to it. Take up the slack and squeeze."

"Right." I repeated a couple more, taking up the slack then squeezing slow and steady.

"Better. Now if you want some advice, turn just a tad to your dominant side." She nodded at some pictures on the wall. She was prominently featured in several.

"Okay, will do."

"Don't want to overdo it. You need to be able to shoot anywhere you can see. But it helps with sighting and repetition."

"Ma'am, I know I don't remember everything I should."

"That puts you two steps up on most. Give me a couple more dry fires, tell me how it feels."

I complied. "Better. Seems it's easier to see where the gun is aimed."

"Good. Now we're ready for real ammunition. Go ahead." And she put her own hearing protection in. I put the muffs on my head. Not as good as what she had, but I wasn't going to be doing this all day, every day. The muffs changed the way you heard - I could hear my own breathing, and the pulse through my ears if I tried. I cycled a round into the chamber, took the same stance as I had a moment ago, watched for her nod before switching back to aiming the gun, took a breath, let it out partway, and pulled the trigger.

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on October 17, 2022 7:00 AM.

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