Firearms VS. My Skull

Shotgun

Have you ever had your head blown off with a 12 gauge shotgun?  I have, almost, and it still gives me shivers when I’m reminded of it!  Actually, that’s a silly question.  If you’d had your head blown off, you wouldn’t be here, answering this silly survey.

Children in my small hometown owned weapons. 14, 15, 16-year-old boys possessed rifles and shotguns.  It was not unusual, of a warm, sunny summer Saturday, to see a group of armed youths, ‘going hunting’, if hooting and yelling, and telling jokes while clomping through the near-by woods could be called hunting.  All the animals were hiding behind trees and snickering.  The only things that got shot were trees and fenceposts – or old appliances and food tins, if we reached the city dump.

One well-armed wight once boasted of ‘bumping off a chickadee’, as if he were a mob hit man. From a distance of 20 feet, he blasted away with a 12 gauge shotgun, leaving nothing but a fine pink mist.  He was also the genius who found an arm-thick, wild apple tree amongst the evergreens, and ‘chopped it down’ using three blasts to its base.

The rifles we owned were mostly little .22 caliber plinkers, capable of very little serious damage. Those who carried 12 gauge shotguns though, were far more dangerous.  .22s are only 22/100ths of an inch wide.  Even .45s, a large handgun shell, are less than half an inch.  12 gauge though, is .730 inches in diameter. And the power comes from the ‘squared’ portion of the Pi/R/Squared formula.  See the size comparison below.

Gauge

I had moved away to get a job, and had returned for Christmas. I’d been able to get presents for my Mom and Dad, but admitted to him that I had no idea about what to get my brother.  He told me that my brother wanted to be armed like his friends for ‘hunting season’, and also told me where there was a bolt action shotgun for sale, much like the one at the top, only in far better shape.

Bolt-action, for a shotgun, is quite rare. It cocks, ready for the next shot, when you lift the bolt handle, rotating a wedge-shaped section backward.  After you manually insert another shell and close the bolt, it is fired by pulling the trigger, to release the spring-loaded portion….usually.

After I had presented it to him on Christmas Day, the brother oohed and aahed over it, and took in into his bedroom, ‘to put it away in his closet.’ I had a small repair chore to do for my Dad, and stepped out into a shed, attached to the back of the old, frame house, with a work area in it.

I was standing close to the house outer wall, with a file and screwdriver in my hands. Suddenly, there was a loud bang, and my head and shoulders stung from small impacts.  I thought at first that a two-bulb, 4-foot fluorescent light fixture had exploded in the cold….but no, I still had light.

I turned, and there was a head-sized hole in the wall, right beside my head.  I could see my brother inside, with the shotgun in his hands, and a dismayed expression on his face.  By the time I’d left home, I’d acquired almost 300 hours of gun-handling and safety training.  Not so my brother, and his gun-toting friends.

He just HAD to know how the gun operated, and inserted a shotgun shell.  Apparently the gun had a 6-inch split, at the back of the barrel.  Instead of cocking, as the bolt was raised, it allowed the cocking cam to slip out of a groove, machined into the barrel, and hang up on the barrel’s rear edge.  When the bolt was pushed forward, it stretched the firing spring, and when the bolt was cranked down, to lock it, the cam snapped back into its slot, and suddenly flew forward, firing the gun.

A couple of fortuitous degrees of angle, or inches of difference in where he, and I, were standing, were the only things that prevented me from becoming a Wisconsin Swiss-Cheese-Head. The gun’s vendor had not wanted to lose a sale by mentioning the flaw, but had to refund my money, and got a good blast from both me and my Dad.  My brother never did end up owning a gun, and it’s probably just as well.

Do any of you have an almost-died story that you wish to share?  This is not my only one.  My brother also almost drowned the both of us one time.   😯  I’m alive and safe now, and look forward to hearing from you again soon.

 

 

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THE DAY I FELL DOWN

Lighthouse

Chantry Island lighthouse off Southampton Ontario

 

Did I lead a charmed life as an active, adventurous young boy?? Did I actually put enough preventive thought and safety planning into some of my more life-and-limb-threatening activities?  Or is it just that what was, to a horrified adult retrospect, not really that dangerous?

How did some of us ever survive to grow up? Most (but not all) of my questionable young antics involved getting high – I loved to climb things.  I have written of being 9 years old, and scrambling to the topmost branches of a mighty, old oak, located on the highest elevation in town.

When I entered my teens, a trusted friend and I often crossed the river on the arching steel support trusses, beneath the new bridge, ignoring the possible 50 foot plunge to the river below. In the summer by boat, and in the winter by walking across frozen lake ice, groups of us went to an island a mile offshore, and climbed to the top of the 100 foot lighthouse.

It is possible that large rocks, and chunks of logs got up the inner stairways, and accidently fell on the roof of the attached, unused, derelict, century-old storage shed.  When the caretakers bricked up the entrance and added a steel door with a stout padlock, I went around the back, and used the 1 ½ inch copper lightning-ground cable to reach the observation level.  Apparently, only to prove I could.  These were reconnaissance missions only – no bombing runs.  The view of a flat lake, whether liquid or frozen, isn’t really that spectacular.

In the early 1950s, what passed for the cognoscenti of our little town were all agog, waiting for the release of a book. A ‘famous writer’ from Toronto, 100 miles south, had researched 8 lighthouses in the north end of Lake Huron, including ours.  When the book finally arrived at the General Store, I managed to sneak a copy off the shelf, and quickly read what he’d written.

He said that, after climbing the circular metal stairway inside the lighthouse, the view from the top was magnificent…. only; our lighthouse had solid wooden floors every ten feet, for storage, with unrailed wooden stairs ascending from level to level, East to West, then North to South, etc.

I don’t know if he ever actually set foot on the island, or just did his research from the pub. It was the first time I caught an author lying to me.  Sadly, it wasn’t the last.

Alone, and with my friend’s help, I reached the top of many of the town’s public buildings. The arena was easy, but boring.  I got to the roof of one church, and the top of the bell-tower of another.  He and I sat on the roof of the three-storey bank building at the main intersection.  When his mother was late, and he was locked out of the second floor apartment in the building next to it, we scampered up the front and went in the balcony door, or up to the roof and down through the skylight.

The view from the top of the 120 foot water tower, next to the oak on the hill, was worth it. The climb was simple.  A steel ladder reached to within 10 feet of the ground, but was right beside the overflow pipe.  A foot placed here, and a grab there, and soon we were at the top.

It was so easy that my girlfriend caught us lurking near it one evening, as she walked to the library, and wanted to know what we were up to.  When we explained, she demanded to accompany us.  With him pulling and me providing a shoulder, we all soon enjoyed the lights in the town 5 miles away.  Crazy!

The day I fell down, I started with my feet firmly on the ground. I was in Grade 7, and returned to school after a September lunch break, to find a gaggle of boys surrounding a burly Grade 8 lad.  Slowing to eavesdrop on the conversation, I heard that he was bragging that he knew a way to make someone unconscious. ‘Bet you don’t!’ ‘I bet I do!’

To prove his claim, he needed a victim willing volunteer.  Why is everyone looking at me?  “Now you need to take a deep breath and hold it.  I’m gonna get behind you and give you a bear-hug, and squeeze you really, really hard.  Don’t forget to hold your breath!”

….and I woke up with my face embedded in the blacktop. My nose was bloody.  My lips, especially the top one, were swollen, and I’d lost a tiny chip off the corner of one front incisor.  None of us, me included, really thought this thing through, did we?

“Why did you let me fall down?” “Well, you didn’t collapse.”  “How could I?  You were holding me up.”  He’d set me down, but apparently my knees were locked.  Instead of winding up in a limp pile at his feet, (would that have been any better?) I had pitched forward, like the mighty oak up the street, plowing a furrow with my face.

Nowadays, I ingest an OxyContin, and take along a pillow if I have to wind down a window in the car. Surely none of you readers were as foolish as me.  Do you have a childhood escapade you wish to admit to?   😉

Flash Fiction #39

Old Shep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Had A Little – Fright

They asked, “Why does the lamb love Mary so?”
‘Tis that Mary loves the lamb, you know.

Mary didn’t have a lamb.  She had an old dog named Shep.  She could not bring herself to tie Shep up, but he followed her everywhere.

“I won’t fall down a well, Lassie.  I won’t crash through the floor of an old barn.  I’m just going to walk to school beside the tracks, like I do safely, every day.”

Until the day old Shep rushed at her, barking furiously, just in time for her to see the unscheduled freight, with the extra-wide load.

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday picture as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story