Being Clumsy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


The story about a man who makes the wrong choice in life.

Submitted: August 09, 2018

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Submitted: August 09, 2018

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Being Clumsy

Cliff was taking apart a gun in his garage. Not being used to handling guns, he used the manual to take the weapon apart. He laid all the parts of the automatic pistol on a soft cloth he had put on the top of his workbench. After taking the gun apart, he took another cloth and started wiping the individual parts. He still felt uneasy about having to handle the gun; he had never had a gun before; never needed one. While busy cleaning, he thought about how it had all started a couple of weeks earlier.

‘I feel unsafe in my own home,’ Sally had said to her husband Cliff, after reading about the third burglary in their neighborhood. ‘We came here, because it was the safest area for miles around.
‘What can we do about it?’ Cliff had asked. ‘Since we moved here a lot of other people have had the same idea, that’s why the neighborhood has become attractive to burglars too. There’s too much wealth around. You might say we’re the victims of our own success. There’s nothing we can do about it.’
‘We should get ourselves a gun,’ Sally had suggested. ‘Just for protection.’
‘I don’t know. They can be dangerous, you know.’
‘Not to us. You know it makes sense. Even the Caldwells have one, Ellen told me so. A small one, she calls it their automatic insurance policy. They think it’s safe, they all took shooting lessons down at the gun range, even little Edward.’
‘That doesn’t convince me at all,’ Cliff had retorted. ‘That Tom Caldwell is a maniac. He was the one that tried to jump that hedge on his motorcycle. How many weeks did he spend in hospital?’
‘That was just a silly accident,’ Sally had defended Tom Caldwell’s calamitous action. Then the discussion had petered out.
For three weeks, the same issue had come up on an almost daily basis, slowly grinding Cliff’s resistance away. Eventually, he had gone to the gun store and had bought the automatic pistol.
‘The best buy for a new gun owner who wanted some serious protection around the house,’ the owner of the store had told him. ‘Even the little wife can handle it,’ he had added. Cliff had been glad Sally had stayed at home; she probably would have smacked the jerk.

Cliff smiled as he thought about all those times Sally had become infuriated by chauvinist remarks made by men she thought still belonged in the Stone Age. Usually her mouth would harden, straightening her lips in a thin line before she would spit out some snide remark herself. He shuddered at the thought, he knew from experience it wasn’t very pleasant to be on the receiving end of her fury.
Still thinking about the row that could have developed in the gun store had Sally been there, Cliff started assembling the pistol again. Once the gun was a functional weapon again, he took the small box of bullets from the bench and carefully inserted the bullets into the magazine. He then inserted the magazine in the grip of the pistol and rammed it home. The next thing he did was switch the safety catch so that the red dot was no longer visible. Then he looked up in the manual how he had to chamber a round, and did as the instructions told him. Then he threw the manual on the workbench. He brought the gun up to his face so he could carefully aim at a can of paint on one of the shelves in his garage. The weapon gave him a strange sense of power. By just pulling the trigger he could destroy that can of paint. It was an exciting feeling, but at the same time it worried him. He felt insecure about how to fire the weapon quickly. The safety catch was still puzzling him. He switched the safety catch on and off a couple of times.
“That’s confusing,” he thought. “What does it mean? Red dot showing, you cannot use it, or red dot showing, now it can be fired?” He decided to look it up in the manual, just to make sure, but first he wanted to have a coffee. While flicking the safety catch up and down, he walked back to the house, the gun in his right hand.  As he opened the back door with his left hand, he saw Sally putting some cheese back into the fridge. He stepped into the kitchen.
‘I can murder a coffee,’ he said and failed to notice a muddy boot on the tiled floor. In a split second he realized he was going down, and he tried to break his fall by putting his hands out as he smashed into the kitchen counter. There was a loud noise, and he could hear Sally starting to laugh at the bit of slapstick going on in her kitchen.
Then the world was silent.

 

 

 


© Copyright 2018 Bert Broomberg. All rights reserved.

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