Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Guns and Ammo

We pull off the freeway for Taco Bell, fast food my entire family will eat.
“Look,” I say and point at a sign screaming Guns and Ammo next door to The Bell.

We stare at the black and white camouflaged store, standing out like an itchy trigger finger and muse about the businesses in that half-block of Camden Avenue.

First is the 76 Station, and you will need a full tank of gas for the high-speed getaway after you do what you might do with guns and ammo.

Next is the Assembly of God church, where you will need to pray, begging forgiveness for what you are about to do with guns and ammo.

Then there is Taco Bell, where you will drop food on the butterflies in your stomach fluttering about your decision to use guns and ammo.

From there it’s only a few steps to the gun store where you can purchase all the firepower you need to lodge a complaint against anyone anywhere.

We pile out of our minivan, order all we want and stuff our faces. While my family finishes, I wait for the cashier to unlock the restroom out back and notice a man in the dumpster pen, pawing through bags of trash wet with dripping soda.

As I empty my bladder, I wonder why he’s not brandishing a gun filled with ammo, shouting at the jittery cashier, “Give me one of everything, to go.”

It’s a wonder, really, that we’re not all rioting because I have enough and he is hungry.

I wash my hands and retrieve all the money from my purse, knowing more is just an ATM away. “Sir,” I will say, “would you like some money for dinner?”

Three dollars and I will sleep better imagining him eat a tortilla whole and hot filled with steaming beans.

When I open the bathroom door, the man is gone and my family is walking toward our car.
“Did you see him?” I ask. “The man looking for food?”

“No,” they answer.

We buckle up, cruise past the dumpster, and I think of him, the hungry man, with a few handfuls of lettuce and cold burrito briquettes.

We drive past the guns and ammo store, its neon flickering in the window. Closed.

I can’t decide whether to thank God for that or not.

©Cathy Warner 2004

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