Monday, January 3, 2011

Roger's Day

Up. walk. Guns.

Ok days in Reno tend to look like beautiful days in the east. Partly cloudy, high forties, light breeze. The sky was neon blue and the snow is still white; it isn't that brown slushy mixture of the New York. Today was a perfect day to shoot guns.

Ciera and I were following Roger. It was his day. We had our morning earlier. A walk from Ciera's grandfather's house to House of Bread. A quiet journey, a mid morning release. Wandering through the houses of the Hunter Lake neighborhood rejuvenated me. We felt clarity and the expansiveness of the world as we walked to the local bakery. We sat and mused about why we didn't make walks like that one more often. The distance was no more than a few blocks but the Reno mentality—the suburban mentality—takes hold. No distance too small to fire up the Hummer. Mostly we enjoyed the silence; a whole neighborhood to ourselves.

We had watched the children at Hunter Lake elementary run in from recess to their classes. A sea of four foot tall rainbows. Little bundled up lives pouring into a building that would be there before and after them. Well after. Infinitely before.

But the return to the stuffy and dark house, bodies sprawled about on the comfy couches, was the beginning of Roger's day. The day for Roger. The day where Roger could lead us around.

Which means shooting guns. Being a man. Getting some testosterone flowing. And in Ciera's case, getting in touch with her inner Sarah Palin. So we naturally started the journey by hopping in the back seat of his large pickup truck being careful not to step on shotgun shells carelessly thrown in the back while Roger and his best friend Austin loaded up the second largest cache of weapons in Nevada. The first would be the military caches in the middle of the desert. Ok, that's sort of an exaggeration.

Once the things that don't kill people and the things that do kill people were all loaded into the large green truck that smelled like farts, we were off to Wal-Mart. Roger's day would be the “American's” day—complete with country music. But Roger is no ordinary American, he is a smart one. And he knew that parking by the Wal-Mart Tire Center would allow him to bypass the crowds and enter the store right next to the firearms section. The only two people I saw entering and leaving Wal-Mart were a mechanic and the gun salesman.

Then out to Lemmon Valley, a neighborhood in Reno that is mostly one story homes built by Gregg Peek's development company. It sits in a valley and circles a playa, a lake that appears only in the wettest of winters. We stopped at Austin's house. Austin picked up some supplies and Roger took a leak. He has a strange tendency to not close the door and to sing loud sailor songs. If it helps him to pee I will not object. And then it was off to the shooting range. Or more appropriately, a patch of open space littered with trash.

A bumpy dirt road, single track, mostly covered in snow. We found our piece of desert. We unloaded. Gloves, coat, ammo vest, ear protectors. Shotguns, revolver, colt, rifles. Targets: plywood, clay pigeons, cardboard boxes, paper targets, and a plastic horse. Ready? Pull.

The revolver doesn't fire very well, inaccurate to say the least. But it has a nice balance and it is fun to fire. The first shotgun wasn't much fun. Pump action. I just couldn't get the hang of it. The second one was nice. Single barrel shotgun, it fired easily and aimed well. After a couple of misses with the clays, I picked it up and started vaporizing them consistently. Roger got pretty pumped about that. He gets pumped when people fire guns well. One of my first interactions with Roger was shooting his rifles in the basement.

Roger pulled out the big gun. A World War One era bolt action rifle. It fired great, but man did it kick. The shotguns had some recoil, but that rifle was like standing behind a bull. And it fired great. Guns, shooting them, is a total power trip.

Firing out into the desert wilderness is something to do. It's something you can only do in America. Most other countries don't even have gun laws besides prohibition. Everyone should know gun safety regardless of their position on guns.

We exhausted the ammo. Roger and Austin loaded up the pump action shotgun and the revolver. They walked out to the horse. It was a standoff at high noon, the sheriff and his deputy against the meanest sumbitch west of the Mississip. And they unloaded on that sumbitch plastic horse. They blasted it down in less than a second, the last ten seconds were just making sure it wouldn't get up again.

I looked out on the valley. Reno is part of a series of valleys. We were currently in the large valley separating Reno from Pyramid Lake. The area was a sea of sagebrush with patches of snow, a vast open wilderness dotted with animal tracks intersecting the human dirt roads. Peavine mountain was a white wall extending into the sky, touching the clouds. The sun passed over us as we loaded up. And we bumped back along the road to civilization.

My day with Roger ended at a burger joint and was filled with country music.