Note to my readers: Most years my blog gets priority over the garden and other things. This year will be different because we may be counting on food from the garden to get us by. We may be feeding other families out of our garden. Things aren't grim right now but that could change in the blink of the eye.
The thing about gardening and most other, productive activities is that you must drop the hammer MONTHS before the food hits the plate.
A calf is 18-to-20 months from birth to meat-on-the-plate. A heifer calf is 24 months from birth to the first squirt of milk in the bucket. Sweet corn and tomatoes are two-and-a-half months from seed/plant in the ground to food on the plate. Green beans seem like a bargain at a little less than two months but green beans are mostly water. A pound of green beans have more water in them than a pound of milk. Those numbers are for the FIRST forkfulls of food. The bulk of it comes later.
The fiction will drop on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and length will shrink from approximately 1000 words per episode to 600. The quality may also suffer. The installments might be a first draft quality, or worse.
Thank-you for your understanding. I encourage you to consider your priorities as well. -Joe
Darwin and Jarrell drove west a mile-and-a-half out of town to the Conservation Club. Darwin was a member and had the combination to the lock. He let them in. After parking the truck he locked the gate behind him.
"Why didn't we shoot back at the house?" Jarrell asked. There was nothing smarmy or smart-ass about it. It helped Russ gauge just how much he was going to have to work with Jarrell.
"There are a lot of answers to that question" Dar said after thinking it over for ten seconds. Dar was almost as fit at fifty-seven as he had been when he mustered out of the Marines. He still looked like he could hump a seventy-pound ruck for fifteen miles or run eight-minute-miles from sun-up to sun-set. He wasn't quite that fit...but he wasn't that far off, either.
Dar was Melody's father.
"The biggest reason is that this is a very safe place to shoot. This is a shooting range. It is designed to be safe" Dar said.
"Another reason is that we have neighbors who like to make trouble. They call the police when I shoot a red squirrel or raccoon out of one of my trees. That same red squirrel or raccoon might be destroying their attic but they feel justified making my life miserable. It is just easier to come out here" Dar concluded.
Jarrell nodded. He had encountered people he classified as "spoilers". Their lives might have turned to crap and they were not capable of creating anything or doing anything positive. But they could still make other people miserable.
"You are a puppy" Dar said. "The key to training puppies is to have many, short lessons and to keep it fun."
Jarrell wasn't sure he liked being compared to a puppy but he had no objection to short, fun lessons.
"Today you are going to shoot reactive targets with a .22 rifle" Dar lectured. "and I am going to introduce you to the FIRST TWO RULES."
From the way Dar said it, it was clear that FIRST TWO RULES were capitalized.
"You cannot see it, but there is a very high-powered laser attached to the barrel of the rifle. That laser will slice like a chainsaw anything that is within a mile, anything except the ground or the sky, that is" Dar said.
"So, you can understand that if that laser comes anywhere near me or my truck or anything that I would regret seeing destroyed, that I will kick your ass" Dar said. "I might even break your fingers. I am still giving that consideration."
"You are fucking kidding me, right?" Jarrell said. "There is no laser on that gun"
Dar looked Jarrell straight in the eye. "If you do everything you are supposed to, then you will never know. Will you? If you only point it at the sky or the ground...then you cannot know if it is true or not."
That gave Jarrell something to chew on.
"What is the second rule?" Jarrell asked.
"Keep your finger out of the trigger guard until it is time to kill something" Dar said.
"Kill something?" Jarrell asked, a bit shocked.
"We are done, here, if you cannot wrap your mind around the fact that there are people who are willing to kill you and kill people you love for the price of a cheap wrist-watch" Dar said. "Life, your life, is that cheap to them. Cheaper, even. They might kill you because the assume you have something worth stealing."
"Do they win or do you win? Do they kill you and Melody or do you kill them? If you cannot decide then we are done RIGHT NOW" Dar said.
"A gun is not like garlic or a Crucifix keeping vampires away. It isn't magic. It only works when it is a tool in the hands of a craftsman who is willing to use it" Dar said.
"Sure, sometimes you get lucky and the thug is a coward who runs away. But more often the cowards run in packs and they cannot run away because of the loss of 'face'." Dar said.
"I can see you care for my daughter" Dar said. "Do you care enough to learn a new skill? More important, do you care enough for my daughter to kill for her should the need arise?"
"Don't you mean 'die for her'?" Jarrell asked, hoping to inject a bit of levity into the conversation.
"Nope. Kill for her. Dying is easy. If you are dead, who stops the next bullet? And the one after that? And the one after that?" Dar asked.
"I am asking you to do something harder" Dar said. "If a thousand evil men want to hurt my daughter...and my grandchildren should I be so lucky...I want you to send every one of them back to hell quickly and efficiently. I want you to pull the trigger until the barrel of your weapon shimmers with heat. I don't want you to hesitate a single time. NOT ONCE. NOT EVEN A FRACTION OF A SECOND. CAN YOU DO THAT?" Dar said.
"It is not complicated. It is not about you. It is about who lives? Who dies? My innocent daughter or those who would kill for the price of a wrist-watch?"
"Because if you cannot protect my daughter then I am wasting my time here."
"We will pack up and head home. If Melody asked, I will tell her that we had a chemistry issue and it didn't work out. No skin off either of our noses" Dar said.
"Now, I am going to walk around the perimeter of the Conservation Club to ensure that the fence is secure. It will take me about five minutes. When I come back I will want your answer" Dar said.
When Dar came back, Jarrell asked "So, how do I get the gun out of the case when the laser is running?"