I was driving down Jefferson Davis Highway, where redneck hookers taunt you with southern drawls and low rents, when I saw a military surplus store.
There it is, I thought. The thing to pull me from this defiant funk of mine.

Years back I was in the military. I went to Panama. I went to Saudi Arabia. I went to every bar around Ft. Campbell, KY. Along the way, I probably knew some soldiers the average Joe would call ‘A hero’, but that wasn’t me. Yeah, I got lonely and missed my people back home, but sitting in a barracks room downing Natty Light while watching Easy Rider for the millionth time doesn’t really line up with Heroism. Down in Panama there was that pesky invasion but you can drink that quiet in your head if you got the discipline.

I pulled in facing a Sabre Tooth tiger skull wearing a Nazi helmet. I knew this was the right place. Plain-jane desks lined the aisles along with enough file cabinets to start another government agency or twelve. I walked around. The showroom smelled of gun oil, leather, and canvas. I found tables piled high with ammo pouches, E-tools, Pup tents, and machetes.

Then I saw what I needed to see.

Along a far wall sat a machine gun the size of a love seat. A tripod and a dented ammo can balanced it on top of a distressed wall locker. The barrel pointed towards a wall covered in WWII recruitment posters, and stretched out nearly a foot. It was an air-cooled job that looked, from a distance, like a sniper rifle. Solid flat black finish and all. But up close, I knew it would take four car jacks and six midgets to lift it off the ground.
No way some sniper was toting it twenty clicks to take out an enemy of the state.

I thought of asking the caliber, style etc. but noticed the man behind the counter was more interested in The View than my inquiries. So I stood in ignorance wondering about this marvel of modern murder when my eyes stopped on the trigger.

The trigger was silver on one side. Sweat, salt, and use had rubbed the black finish off. I pictured a BDU clad soldier lying on the ground, squeezing (never pulling) the trigger repeatedly.
I imagined faceless soldiers setting it up on a Korean hill, a clear rise in a Vietnamese jungle, or a beiged-out Humvee in a Middle Eastern village.

The stories of life & death are found in the triggers. Below the silvery surface, gut wrenching realities, and child-like admiration of power are found every good, bad, and ugly we can fathom. The silver trigger reminded me that nothing happens until you stop breathing, keep both eyes open, and squeeze.
The result is a matter of windage and aim.
A well-worn trigger holds all the stories worth telling. And all those worth forgetting.


The View went off so the guy asked me if I needed help.
“No, not really. This place is great though. It’s like a time warp, without the transsexual vampires.”
“Nothing. You guys sell triggers?”
“You mean just the triggers?” He squinted his eyes at me.
“Yeah, just the triggers. I was thinking about putting one on my keychain.”
“Well, I gotta catalog. You’d probably have to buy the weapon.”
“How much is this big, weapon right here?”
“Fifteen-Hundred and Fifty dollars. American.”
“American?” I said.
“Yep. That’s all we take.” He bucked up with pride.
“As opposed to…? I’ll just look around thanks.”
“You might be able to find triggers somewhere else.” He moved as if to walk away.
“They’re pretty much everywhere, I think.” I said.
He smiled politely and went back to his seat behind the counter.

As I walked out I tapped my knuckles on the Sabre Tooth Nazi’s head.
I heard the man shout, “You can’t touch that!”
I thought about MC Hammer and left.