Sounds of Soldiers- Two Kinds Of Safe

I can’t sleep.

My parents, and my brother and his family, arrive tomorrow and I’m going to introduce them to my girlfriend, a former lover and the grandson they don’t know about. I should have told them, I know, but communication’s been a bit ropey. I miss my student days, when the most I had to worry about when they visited was hiding my housemates’ joints.

The gun’s keeping me awake as well. I’d forgotten the paranoia that being armed generates in me.

It’s a nice piece, a mongrel constructed from at least three weapons. The actions are all smooth, trigger pressure is about right and there’s been a little bit of machining and weighting to improve the balance. Robinson’s lady friend is an above average gunsmith. There are three magazines- one left empty on a rotating basis to rest the spring- and a box of rounds.

I thought about keeping it a secret from Sally. But there’s no way a piece that well hidden could be any use.

We sat at the small table in the kitchen and I stripped it down whilst we talked about being armed. “Do you really think it will make us safer?”

“No. And yes.”

“You can’t have it both ways.”

I started putting the gun back together again. “It’s sort of two different kinds of safe. When I came off the bike the helmet saved my life. It didn’t prevent the accident, but it made the difference between being alive and functional and being dead or brain damaged. That’s why I wore a helmet in the first place. No matter how careful and vigilant I was I couldn’t change the fact that there were a lot of idiots on the road.” I handed the reassembled, unloaded gun to her. “Fully loaded it’s a bit heavier” She pointed it at the floor and pulled the trigger, jumping when the hammer fell on an empty chamber. “The gun’s a bike helmet. I’ll do everything I can to stay out of trouble, keep us out of trouble, but the gun is there just in case.” I slid the magazine into position, but didn’t chamber a round.

Now the gun’s in the bedside table, where I can get at it easily if I have to. It’ll go somewhere safer if Robert junior ever stays over, but otherwise it stays close to me at all times.


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