Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Home-field advantage: Getting ready

I looked at the IPA with longing. It had been pretty darned good. Maybe not as good as Bell’s Two-Hearted, but it had a good back-bone of malt and slight citrus overtones beneath the hard bitter of the hops.

It would have to wait for another day.

I am a morning person. Tonight might be a long night. Beer was no longer an option.

Looking at Marie, who lived a full one-point-two miles from the Hall-of-Justice, I asked “Do you mind being the communication hub?”

That would have been her natural role even if she had been inside the developing shit-storm. My voice locks up under stress. I can do everything that needs to be done...except for talk.

One great thing about family is that they know your strengths. And they know your weaknesses.

Marie nodded. “I am on it like flies on tater-salad.”

She was gently mocking me. That was one of my country-boy phrases. The rest of my family had stayed in "the city". I was the rogue. I had gone red-neck.

It was a short walk to Mom’s. I texted my wife. She was not a worrier but both of our kids took after me. They would likely need reassurance.

I firmly believe in the merits of invisibility. I had stopped wearing my redneck-standard clothing while in town as the election heated up.

Camo, orange and firearm-logo clothing were perfect out in the hinter-boonies but made people look twice in neighborhoods that sported rainbow flags and BLM yard signs.

I had changed my wardrobe to neutral earth tones. I felt like a walking color palette for every Home-Owners’ Association in America.

My coat had a few more pockets than most of the locals. My running shoes were functional. I was a lot hairier and I wore a baseball cap without a logo, but other than that, I was completely indistinguishable from any of the locals.

My main concern was that I did not have a firearm.

Yeah, I know. Big screw-up on my part.

Stevie Wonder could have seen this coming and stashed one at Mom’s, but I had been in denial.

And about that handgun thing. I lived out in the sticks. I open carry. I took the Concealed Carry classes but just couldn’t bring myself to getting fingerprinted and getting the license. I had the hardware. I just did not have it with me tonight.

The thing to do was to tend to Mom and get her settled in for the night. Once her hearing aids were out, then I could get a little bit more active.

If prior history was any indication, things would get exciting about ninety minutes after dark and then remain exciting until two in the morning.


I sent a text to my brother Frank. He works crazy hours. He is an Emergency Room surgeon. His hospital on the west side of Michigan had been seeing a lot of trauma victims. Like I said, he worked crazy hours and they had only gotten crazier.

“Things are getting exciting here. Don’t have a piece. Advise”

Half an hour went by. “Text Kat” is what he sent back.

“Kat” is his wife. Her texts drilled through to Frank when nobody else’s would.

I texted Kat, “Did Frankie tell you anything?”

She texted back “NFC what you guys are talking about. He said look on the top shelf in the closet attached to the girl’s room”


I climbed the stairs. The registers had been turned off and I could smell the dry-rot. I entered the girl's room and flipped on the lights.The power dropped a second after I turned them on. Damn. Just, Damn. Somebody was screwing with the grid.

I muddled with my smartphone and got the flashlight to work.

There was a long, slender, cardboard box on the top shelf exactly where Kat said to look.

There were also eight boxes of ammo of different weights and manufactures. Opening one, I saw that five rounds were missing. Looking through the other boxes I saw one box that was missing ten rounds and there was a second box of the same make and bullet weight. Checking lot numbers, it was from the same manufacturing run.

Good old Frankie. He believed in letting the rifle decide what it liked and then stocked up.

Truth be told, if I was going to war I would not have chosen an economy bolt action in 30-06. Nor would I have known to pick the inexpensive 180 grain soft-points in the blue-box.

The rifle would be slow to reload and make a “BOOM!!!” that would rattle rib cages for a hundred yards.

On the plus side, anything shot with a 180 grain soft-point would stay shot. Speculating from the reputation of the rifle’s maker...economy or not, the rifle had the capability to shot quarter-sized groups at a hundred yards if the rifleman did his job. And knowing Frankie, he had it sighted to hit two inches high at a hundred yards.

Still, it is good to check things out.

Text to Kat: “4F: +2@100?”

Two minutes later Kat replied “I swear. It is like you guys have your own language. He said ‘Yes’”

Kat did not like guns. I could understand why Frankie had one stashed at Mom's. If the incoming administration started collecting guns, the last place they would rummage around looking for one would be the mothballed closets in the homes of 89 year-old grannies.

I parked the six extra boxes of ammo where I could find them fast. I could not imagine a scenario where I would live long enough to actually need them.

I dry-fired the rifle a half dozen times. Sweet-Mother-of-Jesus, what a trigger! I dry-fired it a half dozen more times. The fire hydrant I had lined up in the cross hairs didn’t even twitch as the sear disengaged.

I put four rounds in the magazine. Ran one into the chamber. Dropped the magazine and topped it off. Double-checked to ensure the safety was engaged.


Mom knew something was up.

She is a news hound. She is like a sponge, always on the look-out for tidbits of information that might help somebody in the extended family get a leg up.

She cocked an eyebrow. “You have been busy?” It was more of a question than a statement.

“Yeah. The power went out. I was checking the breaker box.”

She knew I was lying. The breaker box was in the basement and I had clearly come from upstairs.

“What did you find?” she asked.

“I found what I needed to find” I replied evasively.

Eighty-nine years old and as sharp as a tack. “Good. I always feel safest when one of my own is with me.”

I took that as permission to do whatever needed to be done.

Game on. 



  1. I like the 165 or 150 grain rounds best in my bolt action Ruger. Don't kick as much and a little less expensive. Also don't tear the deer up as badly. Of course elk get the 180 grain rounds in my 742 Remington. No kick with that semi-auto!!

    1. "Tim's" thinking is that only hits count.

      Since he does not have his own weapon with him, he is going to use the ammo that the weapon is sighted in with.

      More to come...

    2. What really matters is what the rifle likes best. Best to try several brands and grains to see what it wants to eat. Looks like Frank already took care of that.


  2. "Would stay shot", hence, there are situations where your targets might not "stay shot". Going to try to remember that phrase, it's a winner.

    1. My brother once shot a nice eight-point. Somersaulted it.

      Then, twenty minutes later he shot another awesome eight-point.

      We spent hours looking for the first buck.

      Turns out, he had dinged the antler and knocked it silly. Regaining its senses, it stood up, walked down the trail another fifty yards and got shot again. The second time it "stayed shot".

      Deduced from a fresh chip in the eight-points antler.

  3. "I muddled with my smartphone and got the flashlight to work."
    I've been carrying a small flashlight (2xAAA batteries) for a year. I can pull it out and turn it on one-handed whereas it always seems to take me two to get the flashlight on the phone turned on. YMMV.
    Opie Odd

    1. I keep a single AAA on my house keychain. Current model is a Fenix E05, but there are others as good or better. And I always have my keys with me.


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