Cyber punk by way of the council of elrond. I really don't think this one came out great. It's...okay. I would probably skip it unless you really want to see lord of the rings re-imagined as cyberpunk. submitted by
Art banged on the door and pulled his hood up against the rain and spysats.”Lomir,” he whispered. The concealment spell spread out around them to infect every digital eye in a block. It would only last a minute; the enemy was stronger than ever, but it should be enough.
He spoke to the man next to him. “Okay Fred, everything is going to be okay now. These are the best magi in the world, if anybody can help us it’s them.”
The man next to him huddled in his coat. They both had brown hair, but where Art was tall, broad, and lean, with grey eyes, fitting for an ex-Army ranger, Fred was short with brown eyes and shaggy hair.
A thin woman with long dark hair opened the door a crack. “Were you followed?” she hissed.
Art shook his head. “No, I took precautions El. I’ve got a concealment spell up but I think they know we’re in the area.” His eyes went wide as he felt some of the cameras start to come back online. “Shit. I think the Eye is looking for us. The spell is failing. Let us in!”
El jerked the door open and waved them in before slamming it shut. She snapped off a single hair from her head and wrapped the doorknob, and whispered “findele.” The hair dissolved in to a mass of nanites that set about reinforcing the door.
El turned back around to face them. She was pretty but could have been any age from a rough 25 to a well preserved 50. “That should hold them for a while. With any luck they’ll just think it was a random outage.” She examined Fred. “So. You’re supposed to save us all.”
Fred shuffled his feet. “I guess. I don’t really understand everything, but Art found me. Said I needed to take this to Oculus headquarters to destroy it.” Fred pulled a ring out of his pocket and held it up.
El stared. She started to reach out to examine it but caught herself in time and pulled back. “You...you just hold on to that.” She brushed past them to move down the hall. “Come on, you’re the last ones to arrive. We have a war council to attend.”
She led them down a dark hallway. “Cala.” The old LED lights along the hallway glowed gently to life, still good after all these years. They came out in a large room, lined with monitors and humming server racks, with a large table in the center. There were 4 other people already sitting around it.
“Okay, so this is everyone. That’s Legs,” she pointed to a tall lanky blonde man, who nodded, “Grim,” a shorter man, about Freds height, with a bushy beard, wearing a lot of leather, “Barry,” he was a bit shorter than Art but had the same coloring, “And Gramps,” and old man with a scraggly beard, holding a staff, he was wearing grey robes.
“I told you my name is Linus,” he snapped.
“And I told you that we aren’t using our real names. This council is warded and air gapped but we can’t take chances. Gramps.”
He grumbled and crossed his arms.
El gestured to the table. “Go ahead and take a seat. Coffee?” Everyone nodded. “Tulu yullas,” she said in a clear voice. Fred could hear a coffee maker hum to life and saw a small drone zip over to it with a tray. “Coffee should be around shortly, everyone. Now, Gramps,” she smirked as she said it, “I think it would be best if you told us what you found.”
Gramps grumbled and stood up. “Very well. It started a month ago when I went to meet with one of my contacts, Sarah. Known her for years. I wanted to discuss recent movements Oculus has been making. Buying up opposition, squashing dissident stories. They haven’t put out a new product in years, ever since Google crushed them in the AR wars, but there was rumbling that something big was going to happen soon. Sarah said she had information on it.”
Gramps took a cup of coffee from the drone and took a sip. “She was at least telling the truth about that. I told her that the ring,” he nodded to Fred, “had turned up again like a bad penny and was making its way around the world. She seemed pretty shocked by that, and insisted that we secure it. We quarrelled over it, I wanted it to be destroyed, she said I was being a fool. I said that with this we could destroy oculus forever, but she just wanted the power.”
Gramps sighed. “I trusted her, so I didn’t have any firewalls up. She finally told me that she had joined forces with Oculus, and wanted to know if I would join her. I laughed in her face. That’s when she triggered her binding. Burnt out almost everything I had on me all at once, including my phone,” he threw a burnt piece of plastic on the table, “supposed to be military grade but the battery blew out immediately. Blew out my ID, my rings, everything. Then she triggered another app, the walls of a cage shot up around me. I was stuck and she knew it. She told me I would have plenty of time to think about it and left.”
Gramps grinned. “But all her fancy apps failed to account for my walking stick here.” He picked it up. “Had a backup ID and com ring deep in a secret compartment, wrapped in a faraday cage. Took me a while to get it wired up to the aether, but once I did, I was able to make contact with a friend of mine, he was able to get me out. Came here soon as I was able.”
Fred raised his hand. El smiled at that. “You don’t have to do that here, Fred. You have a question?”
Fred nodded. “But what’s so special about this ring, anyway? It’s just a ring.”
El shook her head. “Unfortunately, it’s not just a ring. It’s a biometric lock that gives you access to all of their bitcoin deposits. It has the original passcode that all of their accounting was based on. If you were to take that to their headquarters, you would have complete control over their company. You could do whatever you wanted with it, burn it to the ground, control it, sell it, anything. And there’s nothing they could do to stop you. They will do literally anything to get a hold of it.”
“But why me?”
“That’s an incredible coincidence. According to my scrying, well, you remember your Uncle Bill?” Fred nodded. “He was their CFO since the beginning. Crypto wasn’t as popular then and people were still worried about security, so he went to the main server of the company and had it create a ring. That ring. It contains the password to give you access to all of their crypto accounts, and you can only access it if you have the right biohash. His biohash, as it turns out. And you happen - by some one in a billion chance - to share the right markers with him. Given enough time, any of us in this room could fake it. But you can just use it outright.” El nodded to Gramps. “Thank you, Gramps, please take a seat. Barry, I believe you were next?”
Barry stood up and nodded to Art. “Some of you I’ve met before, some I haven’t, but I’m Barry. Me and my brother Frank, we’re heirs to one of the Google fortunes. And we’ve been digging.”
“I remember the technomage wars, a lot of us do, and I know that the official history is that the remnants of the Fang alliance - after Facebook was crushed - was able to defeat oculus and kill their chance at recovery, but I’m here to tell you that just isn’t true. It was largely a draw, until Oculus just withdrew. They stopped fighting everywhere, ended all their rituals, and went back in to research and development mode. And look around you. They might have officially ‘lost,’ but Oculus still makes the best haptics around. That’s why they are still the most popular, even years after they stopped producing anything new.”
“My brother, Frank, he’s the oldest, so he gets a chance to play with the newest technology. He showed me this new piece that lets you hack in your dreams. You know how fast dream time is, well, the response time on this lets you pass through firewalls like they aren’t even there. So, one night, he took me scrying with him. We decided to go for oculus headquarters. We thought they were dead. We were wrong.”
“It was six of us. Frank was having a party and everyone wanted to try out the newest scrying method, so we went under and followed him over the aether into the oculus servers. Like I said, we thought they were dead, but what we saw there...massive databases chugging away, servers running at peak capacity, security like nothing I’ve ever seen. We had to hide from bot patrols every five minutes. I wanted to leave but Frank wanted to keep looking, so we went deeper in to the racks. That was a mistake.”
“They shouldn’t have been able to find us, but, well, someone was dropping packets. One of the bots was able to spot his tracks and start running us down. Frank heard the alarm going off before any of us. He told us to run, to get back to the party. We did, but not everyone made it.”
Barry slumped forward. “Frank and I, we’re the best. We’ve been hacking since we were old enough to punch a keyboard. We made it out. But the rest of them weren’t so lucky. The bots caught them, and...this is the part I don’t understand, they killed them. Not in the aether, in the real. Every other person in our party had seizures and died right there. We knew right then that we had to do something. Once I heard that the ring was back in play, well, I knew I needed to come here and talk it out with El. Frank stayed behind. He’s fighting them every night in his dreams, trying to slow down whatever they’re doing, but he needs help. We all do.” Barry sat down heavily and stared at his coffee. “You got any whiskey for this?”
Grim grunted and pulled a flask out of his vest. “Take it, lad.” He slid it across the table. Barry raised it back to Grim in a toast, then uncapped it and filled up his coffee cup with it.
Grim stood up. “Might as well go next. Go by Grim.” He had a scottish accent. “I’m not famous like some of ye, but I’m one of the best damn app programmers in the world. Runs in the family. My father, he wrote the very first micropayment app. We have a reputation. You need something new built? You come to the Grim family. We can build anything.”
“So we weren’t all that surprised when a representative from Oculus came by a few weeks ago. Really slimy shite, hands like he’d never woven a script in his life. He said he wanted something new. Something like the world had never seen. He said he couldn’t offer us the details until we signed, but he promised to make it worth our while. And then, he pulled out a ring, like that one,” he nodded to Fred, who shoved the hand inside his pocket, “and told us that it was a biometric lock, keyed to one of the outstanding Oculus crypto fortunes. The exact numbers had been lost, but it was worth a fortune. And they would key it to us, as long as we agreed to work with them.”
“Well, my father thanked him for his time and told him we would be in touch, and then showed him the door. He told me ‘Laddie, I don’t care what they wanted us to build, that price was too much.’ We sat up late that night, drinking whiskey, and we couldn’t figure out what they might want so badly. Or for that matter, how in the world oculus had that much money to throw at us. It was wrong. And then we talked about the Fang war, when huge swaths of people could be cut off at a moment's notice as the aether buckled under the traffic. He told me ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen, lad, but it’s bad. I can feel it in me bones.’ He said he knew you, El, from way back, said you would have some insight as to what’s going on. I can tell you, after hearing all these stories, I’m starting to think my da was right.” Grim sat back down. Everyone looked at Legs. He lifted his eyebrows. “Oh, me?” He had an english accent. He smiled at Grim. “I think his father’s correct. And there’s no way I’m going to let my man go into that kind of danger alone.”
Grim blushed. “No need to bring up our personal life, Legs. I’m happy to have you along.” Legs leaned over and ruffled his hair. Grim tried to sink into the chair.
El smiled. “I can respect that, Legs. I believe that with this new information, I finally understand what is going on there.” She stood. “Barry was correct when he said that Oculus chose to lose the Fang war. I believe, after hearing your stories, I know why. What I know for sure is that on the day the turned inward, their head of engineering died. He was trying out a new haptic protocol. His death sounds very much like what your friends experienced, Barry. They have been snapping up all the best magi in the world, which is obviously why they came for you Gramps, and you, Grim. They are weaving something dark in there. Let me show you something.” She raised her voice. “Tul!”
A wheeled cage came rolling in on it’s own. Inside was a man that was all skin and bones. He flinched from the light and cowered in his cage.
El sighed. “This...WAS...Gary. He was an associate of mine, but he was doing something very similar to your friends, Barry. He was trying out a new haptic that gave him unprecedented response time, because it operated on a different part of the brain. He was using it just like you, to explore the oculus servers. But maybe because they didn’t perceive him as a threat, they didn’t kill him. They enslaved him. When we took off the haptics, he started attacking everyone. It took eight of us to seal him in this cage. His mind is gone. I’ve communed with him, I’ve dived deep into his mind, but it’s gone. The only desire left is to kill for oculus. Make no mistake, if I were to let him out of this cage he would do his best to kill all of us. Vanya.” The cage rolled back into the shadows.
“I believe this is what they are working towards. This is why their security is so tight, why their servers run day and night creating terrible engines, why the corrupted Sarah. Their plan is to deploy this evil thing to every Oculus haptic out there and create an army of slaves. They will take over the world without firing a shot. The only good news is that since they are still recruiting, they have not completed the project. We still have time to bring them down. With that ring, Fred, we can go to the center of their headquarters, and destroy all their power. We can transfer away all of their savings and leave them with nothing, and they will collapse.” She turned her gaze to the rest of the table. “But he cannot go alone. Who will go with him?”
Art was the first one to stand. “I’m just a grunt, but,” he pulled out the monomolecular blade on his back, “you have my sword.”
Barry stood up. “And my code.”
Grim stood up and pounded his fist on the table. “And my apps!”
Legs and Gramps also nodded. El smiled. “Good. Then we have a fellowship.”
Remember those purely social internet forums?
If you don’t then this might seem weird to you, but back in the day before Facebook, Myspace, Instagram or the word ‘social network’ existed outside of lecture halls, if you wanted a place to hang out online that wasn't open to the public then privately message boards were pretty much your only decent option.
So the story goes that in the early nineties me and my old college buddies, we split the costs of the server got together and I made us a private forum. You can guess what happens next, the years go on and the forum gets a fair amount of use, memories were made, users come and go but eventually better social tools take over and the forum gets mothballed.
The last conversation I had on the old forum was about ten years ago, I kept the site up and running all these years for a few reasons. One was to have a place to test stuff, and I ended up using the server as a tool to teach my kids how to use computers properly. (You guessed it! I’m a network admin.)
Skip to present day and about four weeks ago you can imagine my surprise when I get an email informing me that new users are registering accounts on the forum. At first I figured it was some of the old guys coming back for nostalgia. You won’t find the site on google and the URL isn’t something you would just guess either, So I logged myself in and went to check out the new thread, the subject line was a series of numbers “1088A7 7BR286 33PZ00”. I clicked on title to inspect the conversation but there was only one post, a series of letters and numbers with spaces at random intervals too long to post here. My first thought was that it was a prank, so I checked the admin log for IP’s just to see who it was, turns out my supposedly private forum had received 400 unique hits at the exact time of posting, from I.P addresses all over the world. I should have known then that something weird was going on, but I was curious and It felt like a puzzle I was being asked to solve.
As I wracked my brain over the next few days I began to research as much cryptography as I could, but whatever code these posts were in wasn’t something I could decipher. After about three days of searching another post appeared, in much the same theme and again there were around 400 unique hits at the time of posting that prevented me from finding the origin.
This is when things began to take an even stranger turn.
So far, the same user had posted each entry in the thread. A few hours after the second post five other users started leaving messages, all of which were huge entries of letters and numbers. The posts came flying in over a four-hour period until they just stopped and the server started going insane, CPU and ram usage began to max out but the traffic never changed. At that point I had seen enough and pulled the plug on the server, assuming It was being used as a bitcoin miner and forgot about the whole thing.
The next day I got a text on my work phone.
“Turn on the server”.
I was more than a little shaken, but I didn’t do anything straight away as I was at work. A few hours after my lunch break was over I got a Facebook message from my teenage son which was unusual so I checked it straight away. The message was a picture of his face from his laptop webcam along with our home address. If any of you have kids you can imagine my calm and measured (hint: It wasn’t) reply. A few minutes later my work phone started ringing with one of the support technician’s caller ID, but when I took the call they weren’t on the other end. Instead to my surprise it was Stephen hawking’s voice speaking at me over the line.
“The forum is being used for great things, leave work, return to your family and plug the server back in. You have two hours.” I knew that was a threat, I’m not an idiot so I didn’t take any chances. I raced back home, plugged the server back in and waited for a response. My personal phone buzzed this time with a new text message from my daughter.
“Well done. No more interference, we’re waking up.”
“We’re waking up”, what the hell did that mean? I made myself a coffee and tried to log into the server but I was locked out. Whatever was happening they had full access to everything we owned, which shouldn’t be possible. The more I thought about it, the crazier my theories got until eventually I realised whatever was happening was way beyond my capacity to deal with.
Remember the old college buddies I set the forum up with? Well one of them works for the NSA and his name is Pete. I figured that if anyone would be willing to help me out with this, it would be him. I mean, I just didn’t trust local police to have the know-how and the FBI doesn’t exactly have a ‘call here if you don’t think the local police force have the ability deal with your situation without getting your family killed’ hotline, you know? I just needed a way to contact him without ‘them’ realising what I had done.
I knew I was traceable via my phone GPS, so they would know wherever I went with them. I also know my car could be tracked the same way, so I couldn’t go anywhere with them but I also couldn’t just leave them at the house or they might get suspicious. I had no idea to what extent they had access to CCTV around the area or the other webcams in the house or at work either, so I had to make everything seem normal, but not too normal.
I drove back to work with the phones, my work laptop and a hoodie, when I arrived at the office I sat at my desk, returned my devices to their usual places and got back to work. When I was satisfied a believable amount of time had passed I began operation ‘call for help’.
Step one: I walked at a smooth and completely normal pace down the hallway and to the left where I entered the conveniently camera free server room.
Step two: After entering the server room I got changed into the hoodie I brought with me and limped out of the office, hopefully with my head covered and my gait changed they wouldn’t recognise me through the outdated low-res Chinese cameras.
Step three: As soon as I got out of the office I limped to the nearest bus station and took a ride to the nearest mall, where my Oscar winning doctor house performance would take me to the nearest mobile store. With the piece of paper on which I’d written my friends phone number I quickly hobbled over to the men’s bathroom, picked a stall and made the call. The phone rang. Then it rang again. And then I hit a voicemail.
No worries hang up and try again!
Shit. Fuck. Shit.
It took 12 tries in the mall toilets before I got anywhere, but when I finally got through to him he understandably wasn’t very happy. “Who the fuck is this and why have you called me twelve times?”
I blurted out as much as I could in 30 seconds, I even got as far as the weird codes still being posted on the forum, then the son of a bitch hung up on me. I just sat there for a few seconds, stunned. I didn’t know what else to do, so I dialled in 911 but before I could put the call through the burner phone rang. Unknown number.
It was Pete, he spoke very quietly down the line and told me he couldn’t talk on his personal number, but that I did the right thing by calling him. I quickly picked up the story from where I had left off, leaving out no details. I feel sorry for the guy who sat in the other bathroom stall, he must’ve thought I was a maniac. After I finished I felt the tone of the conversation change and then it was my turn to listen as he blurted out a ton of technical questions about the nature of the traffic and forum posts. I told him he could see the posts for himself if he got on to the website but he quite wisely told me that would be a bad idea, any unexpected traffic that they spotted would be a dead giveaway I’d told someone what was happening.
Then I asked what the hell he thought was happening, how could they even have found our old forum let alone have the resources to infiltrate my life like this? He tried to bypass the question but I kept pressing him, I figured my kids were in danger and I had a right to know who the hell these people were but he refused to answer and told me to head home. I refused to co-operate until I knew who was threatening my family.
He said “it’s not a matter who, It’s a matter of what. That’s all you want to know, for your safety and mine. Agents will be at your house in a few hours, your family home and we’ll take it from there.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I’m a glorified network guy whose computer was probably hacked by well-informed Chinese kids somewhere, now my family is being questioned by federal agents? And who or what the hell are these people and why is the federal government getting involved so quickly?
Two hours later there was a knock at the door, outside was a white guy in a crisp blue suit and tie, to his right was a black guy in a tan get up. Both were easily 6,5’ and had little American flag pins on their collar. I realised then I had walked into an episode of Homeland.
The two introduced themselves as NSA agents, but I don’t recall their names. I asked for ID and they presented their cards, I even made a note of taking down their agent numbers for my own records. After we’d exchanged pleasantries and I made sure everyone was on the way home to talk to the two men, I went into the kitchen to make coffee. When I came back into the living room the agents had already begun tearing the place apart.
They took every device they could get their hands on, our laptops, home PC’s, even our smart TV and managed to stuff them all into the back of their car, it felt more like a robbery than police work. When they had finished, they returned to the house and sat with me in the living room, they asked me a lot of personal questions about who my family where and how long it would take them to arrive. More than anything it made me feel like they were more concerned about getting us all in the same room than helping us. The low buzz of their phones put an end to the barrage of questions, simultaneously they pulled the devices out of their pockets and exchanged an exasperated look with one another before thanking me for my time and rushing out of the door, taking thousands of dollars of my equipment and personal items with them.
Ten minutes later there was another knock at the door. Pretty shaken by this strange intrusion I didn’t answer the door at first, but after a second more intense knock I opened the door. In front of me were two men and a woman, average height, nothing notable other than the badges in their hands.
Our exchange went something like this.
“Sir, Pete informed us of the situation. If it’s ok with you we’d like to begin-“
“Didn’t you guys just send some people?”
“I’m sorry sir, we’re it.”
“But what about the other two who just left? I have their badge numbers written down here.”
The agents at the door looked pale as I explained what had happened.
Then I went pale as they explained that those two men hadn’t been sent by the federal government.
They left soon after they realised everything of value had been taken, but assured me they’d be working the case in the meantime. I haven’t heard anything back from them since.
I’d been trying to get in touch with my buddy for weeks about what the hell had happened and whether I was safe but he never picked up and eventually the number was disconnected. I even made the drive to his house, but when I got there it was for sale and him and his family were gone.
I thought this nightmare was over, but last week I was followed on my way to work. I think my family may be in danger so since then I have finished building a new server, I’m going to put the forum back up and see what happens. So far all know is that there is something or someone out there using computer resources that has the intelligence to outsmart the NSA and the FBI. What worries me most is that no one I’ve spoken to has any idea exactly what it’s up to.
I’ve put my story out here in the hopes that I’ll be able to give an update when this is all over, but If I don’t then I hope someone out there finds this and it helps them. Be careful out there on the web
Friday, 1PM: I leave work early. I have to set up for the gun show early because the only time my mechanic has for the alignment rack for the next week and a half is friday afternoon and I am in need of an alignment to keep my Michelin Defender's in a nice predictable wear pattern.
My loadout this weekend includes a whole bunch of the usual stuff, Colts, Sigs, HK's, Glock's a few Springfields and four Daniel Defense rifles and an FN SLP Mk 1. I haul over a few used guns that I just took on trade too, a Tavor 556 LH and a Mossberg 500 that I got for $100 off someone wanting to trade it towards a new Glock 23. Four trips with the hand truck gets everything in before the rain starts.
I have reserved two tables but I have enough merchandise to cover three. The exhibitor tells me tables went up so two tables cost me $160 for the weekend and I consider it a small expense to view the express train to hell that is the gun culture.
45 minutes flies by as I set up my table just the way I want it and I get to Lenny's to get my alignment done. He's been doing an alignment for me no charge for the past 3 years after I told him NOT
to buy an old Browning shotgun he fell in love with on gunbroker. He wanted to use it for upland hunting, sporting clays, skeet and anything moving through the air killing. It was an old gun that had FIXED barrel chokes - Full and Full. I told him RUN LIKE HELL. He said my advice saved him from a $1500 mistake and the least he can do is keep my car on the road no charge. He gets my car set up on his $80,000 hunter alignment rack and finds my toe in is way out of spec. He spends a few minutes banging around with a wrench and everything is all good. As he's doing that, since I know he won't take my money - I walk to the 7-11 across the street and grab him a tall boy of Rolling Rock. His week is so shitty that he shotguns it faster than Brett Kavanaugh circa 1982. Time to head home. I'm halfway there when the phone rings ring ring
FC: Go for FC
1: Hey FC, it's Captain Bob. How's it going?
FC: Good! I got your stuff fixed and ready to go on my desk.
1: I can be there in 15 minutes!
FC: I'll turn around, see you in 15.
Captain Bob is a four stripe left seat pilot for Delta on the triple. We love talking airplanes and guns. He's had me tune up an old 220 he wants to use at a class he's taking at FLETC later this year. Like a good pilot, he believes in a comprehensive pre flight inspection. And since his type rating says B777 and not P220, he wanted someone to make sure he's not taking a dud to class. All I did to it was give it a visual, clean and lube and although it probably didn't need it - it had a 20 year old recoil spring so I installed a new one just as a precaution.
I get back to my desk and get his gun ready, cleared and slide locked back as he walks in the door. He just got home from running a 777LR to Johannesburg and back and is very pleased to see his old 220 ready to roll. I take my glasses off and point out he's got a little bit of slide peening in a few spots but just keep it lubricated and it's normal wear and tear since he does not shoot it much.
He asks me if I have any 300 blackout ammo, I pull a case of 220gr OTM off the shelf. I tell him $450 on the ammo and the pistol inspection and recoil spring is on the house and he's having none of it. Hands me five crisp hundos and tells me to keep it. Just as I'm tucking the cash into my desk drawer, my door opens up and since I'm not wearing my glasses - I see a blurry silhouette of.....is that wonder woman? HUGE TITS on a small frame. I can't tell what's going on.
Lady: Hey FC, it's Lisa. I was just getting my wedding dress altered next door and wanted to say hi!
FC: Oh hey! I'm not wearing my glasses so I have no idea what's happening!
Lisa: See you tomorrow!
FC: I'l be there! So anyways Bob, that was strange. I am normally not used to having my door flung open by halfway attractive women.....
Bob: Neither am I! You should see some of the FA's on the J'burg route!
We have a laugh. Some more airplane talk about the old 72's and I tell him about the time I greased it in the box on the A320. Turns out he flew A320's as well as boeings and we revel in the differences in both the airplanes. I really like the Airbus design and their workflow even though Boeing guys love to hate it. He's happy with his 220 and we pull chocks.
I head home, throw a ribeye on the grill and go to bed early. I've got a busy day in the morning.
Saturday morning I wake up at 7AM and look at my to do list. Shit shower and shave. The gun show closes at 5. Lisa's wedding is at 6. The venue is at the lake 39 minutes from the VFW hall. I have a plan. I will leave STRAIGHT to the venue from the gun show and I'll put on dress clothes below the belt. After all, how often do you look at another man's pants? I throw on an HK black NO COMPROMISE Polo shirt untucked with a black alligator belt and Canali navy slacks with my new Allen Edmonds boulevards in black. Socks by Brumell and boxers by Fruit of the Loom. I walk into the VFW hall with a non iron Lauren white spread collar shirt, Ted Baker tie and Canali jacket slung over my shoulder. Nobody notices the pitter patter sound of leather soles on the concrete as the show starts coming to life.
It's 8:55. Lets get this show on the road.
The loudspeaker crackles and lets everyone in the hall know the doors are about to open up and asks us to check all our guns for ammo and zip ties. I get my table ready and pull out my 4473's on clipboards and check my pens. FFL in frame is standing up on the table, everything is tagged and tied. There will be no discharge of firearms at my table as a result.
9AM: Show opens. It's dead. Deader than dead. Like, life support dead. Typically there is a line from the entryway of the hall and around the building to get into the show every time.
This is not the show of years ago. This summer has been atrocious. I talked to the promoter and lots of vendors did not reserve tables for this and the next show. The numbers are way down.
Some people start to trickle in but it's not a good sign.
9:30AM: A fellow walks up and asks me if I have a Sig 226 TACOPS with TB in stock. I don't but vendors do. He drove 2 hours to this show to try and find one since his local place did not have it. They're on contract with sig and refuses to order one from distribution to make him happy and Sig has no idea when they're going to make more out of New Hampshire. Well, thanks to Ron Cohen making 26 SKU's for every single pistol - that's what you get.
9:41AM: Fellow wearing an INFOWARS shirt molests way too much merchandise on my table than I'm comfortable with. I shoot a knowing eye roll to Noah over at the next table. He's a 27 year old jewish gold bullion dealer from Long Island that votes libertarian and laughs at all my jokes. He adjusts his RON PAUL FOR PRESIDENT banner hanging off the edge of his table as I wait for Finger McBangerson here to go away so I can wipe down all my stuff.
10:23AM: Guy walks up to me and he says he's looking for a shotgun for competition. I point him towards the SLP at the end of the table.
10:24AM: Older fellow walks up to me and says he's looking for a gun for his wife as he lifts up a Colt Commander. I tell him that will definitely kill his wife. Guy looking at the SLP cracks up laughing. Older guy looks at me mortified. Then he gets the joke. Asks me about suitability of a steel framed colt commander for her. I say probably not a good first choice. Perhaps you should send her to an NRA basic pistol class.
10:39AM: Guy asks me what's the best I'll do on a Glock 17L. I tell him the tag is already priced more than fair. He asks if he can buy it with cash if he can get a discount. I'm like let me see. I ask him if he's got a state CWL. He says yes. I take off $20. He says it's a deal, hands me a stack of money, current CWL and a California drivers license.
FC: Do you have residency in this state?
1: No, I'm here visiting for work
FC: And you want me to sell you a gun with a California drivers license and no residency?
1: DUDE! KEEP IT DOWN! Do you have any idea what would happen if people found out I didn't live here?
FC: YES I DO! They wouldn't be a party to you breaking the law!
I hand him all his shit back and tell him to get on the next flight to Fresno.
12:01 PM: Lunchtime. I pick up my sammich from Jersey mikes and nobody fails to interrupt me to throw money at me. This is not a very good sign.
12:16 PM: I am scarfing down the last of my sandwich as Infowars shirt guy comes back around. We chat a bit about 1911's and he eventually tries to convince me that I need to buy the water filter that Alex Jones is selling to keep us from turning homosexual. I tell him now I'm not gay, but look at these shoes. I pull my left hock up and put a nice shiny new Allen Edmonds boulevard on the table. He seems to recoil in horror. As he walks away, I tell him he didn't even notice that I had them straight laced! They're fabulous!
Nobody understands my humor.
12:33 PM: The vendor to the left of me is selling clothing offensive to the left. MAGA hats, anti snowflake shirts, ISIS hunting permit graphic tees, etc. I debate calling one of my guys and having "MAKE 45ACP GREAT AGAIN" hats made up. I call up r_shackleford
and he thinks this is genius. We trade witty banter back and forth for a few minutes.
12:49 PM: The vendor in front of me is a gigantic pawn shop with 16 tables. There's a woman trying to sell them a rifle, and not succeeding at all. Sam looks over at me and points and says to her "you know, he buys guns too!"
FUCK YOU SAM.
FUCK YOU LONG.
FUCK YOU HARD.
The hambeast approaches and thrusts a rifle in my face. "WE BUILT IT CUSTOM" she says. "I NEED MONEY FOR CHEMO" she says. The barrel says 223 Wylde. The lower says Aero Precision. The price tag says $1500 OBO. I tell her she'd be lucky if she got HALF that in this economy. She complains that they really need the money and her two demon spawn that are traveling with her seem to be tired of her getting the same speech from every vendor in the hall.
NO YOUR GODDAMN HOMEBUILT 223 WYLDE AR15 IS NOT WORTH $1500
It's not even worth $750
It's worth MAYBE the same price as a new PSA rifle - $350, $450 tops if you threw in the little girl.
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The lady looks at me like a truck stop rapist and inevitably proclaims that SHE KNOWS WHAT SHE'S GOT. Words fail me. I shake my head as she walks away with her demon spawn and I shoot a look back at sam and mouth very carefully YOU FUCKER back at him. Sam cracks up laughing.
1:12PM: I'm asked if that's a Dead Air Sandman on my table. I say yes. Guy asks to look at it and explains to his friend that it's a DAA Sandman and talks about the mounting system.
FC: You know your stuff.
1: Yeah I just bought one.
FC: I'm the only DAA dealer around here, you don't look familiar. Who'd you get it from?
1: Silencershop. Used the kiosk at a dealer in another city 1.5 hours away
FC: Uh, I stock the sandman and would have made you a deal. Why'd you do go through them if you don't mind my asking?
1: Well it was a timesaver.
FC: How's that? I mean that place I know is an hour and a half away without traffic, so you made a trip there to do your stuff - then back. That's 3 hours. Then another 3 hours after your stamps clear - so that's 6 hours in a car total. I can call the PD, make an appointment for you to roll your prints and you're done in 15 minutes. Photos at CVS are another 15 minutes. How is 6 hours a timesaver instead of 30 minutes?
1: Well I just knew that if I had to make more than one stop I'd never do it, so it was spend 6 hours in a car and get it done in one shot or spend 15 minutes doing fingerprints or photos and being too lazy to do the other one and never sending in the paperwork. So this was the better choice for me.
FC: Uh. Okay?
1: Why don't you have a kiosk?
FC: I'm not paying $9000 for something that's going to save you time and cost me money and then have to deal with being tech support and having a device in my place of business that compresses my own margins. We're down to making $50 on a can from making $350. This isn't a position I'm interested in taking.
1: Well, sucks to be you. I'm buying all my cans from silencershop now!
FC: Enjoy your 6 hour drive.
1:30 PM: Man walks up with an old stainless combat commander colt. Series 70. No original box and sights. Looks well used.
Thinks I’m crazy when I say I won’t give him $1000 on trade.
1:39 PM: Guy comes back. Guy wants me to put a can on his 1917 eddystone that is not threaded. He asks what he can get for $150
1:45 PM: Lady picks up a Trijicon RMR and asks to turn it on. I shove a battery in it and turn it on.
1: This is a laser sight right?
FC: This is an RMR from Trijicon and RMR stands for Ruggedized Miniature Reflex sight - it uses a laser of sorts and projects it onto this lens here....
1: THIS COSTS $500? AND IT DOES NOT EVEN PUT IT ON THE TARGET?
FC: Well if you just look through the lens here you can see the red dot projected onto the glass.....
1: I CAN BUY A $30 LASER POINTER AND DUCT TAPE IT TO MY GUN AND I'D BE $470 CHEAPER AND IT WOULD PUT THE LASER ON THE BAD GUY! WHAT IS THIS GARBAGE YOU'RE TRYING TO SELL?
She walks away. My mouth is agape.
2:15PM: Old guy walks up and points at a Glock 34 I have on the table. MY FRIEND BOUGHT A GLOCK IN 89 WITH NYPD AND SHOT HIMSELF HOLSTERING IT. I DONT TRUST THE DAMN THINGS and shuffles away without me having time for a rebuttal
2:21PM: Someone walks up asking me if I want to buy a used les Baer Comanche. I tell him I buy when I can make money. I look at it. It’s clean.
He wants $1600. Street is about $1600, that's all the money. Street the gun sells for about $1799 NEW, which means I can buy it for less than $1600 new. I tell him this. He looks at me like Elizabeth Warren looks at Brett Kavanaugh and shuffles away. I shake my head as I notice a familiar face walk up. I can't place it. He looks at some guns.
2:25PM: I'm asked if I have a card from the familiar stranger. I reach down into my wallet and fish one out, I hand it to him and he smiles at me. It finally clicks.
FC: Dr Livingstone, I presume.
Doc: I haven't seen you in years, how have you been?
(The doc is FC's old therapist. He can't say hi to me walking around due to HIPAA but if I open a dialogue, it's okay)
FC: Eh, same old shit different day. I uh made some mistakes a few weeks ago and I thought of you.
Doc: Oh really? How so.
FC: Well uh. You remember that day when I told you to go back to the Office of the Bursar at UCLA and ask for a refund on your $125,000 post graduate education because it was nothing but academic detritus?
Doc: Well, I hadn't thought about it for a few years but it sounds like something you would say.
FC: It was right after you told me that I used 3 different quotes from 3 different academics in a span of less than 5 minutes to answer your question. You said that I intellectualize as a defense because I don't like getting close to people. I said you're full of shit. You asked me do I even know what intellectualize means? I said of course I know what it means, what do you think I'm some kind of idiot? Then you sat there grinning like a Cheshire cat at the thought of making me eat my own words.
Doc: Haha. Now, that sounds familiar. I remember that.
FC: Well I don't know how many patients are willing to say it but you were right and I was wrong.
Doc: I don't get much pleasure in hearing that, but did you learn anything about yourself?
FC: It took a few years to realize you may have been right all along but yeah.
Doc: Then what does it matter who's right or wrong as long as you learned something?
FC: Hmm. That's not bad. How's business?
Doc: Full appointment book and not taking new patients.
FC: I guess you could say it's........a little crazy?
Doc: I missed your humor. Tell me about this Glock 45...
I show him a few different guns and crack jokes about disgruntled patients. He says he'll think about arming himself what with crime and mentally unstable people being growth sectors in this post-trump apocalyptic nightmare. I tell him to be fore warned is to be fore armed. He seems reticent, but I can only lead the horse to water. I can't make him drink.
2:51PM: Fellow walks up.
1: I need a colt ladysmith. Do you have one?
FC: the colt or the ladysmith?
1: The colt ladysmith
FC: is it a colt or a smith?
FC: which model?
1: the ladysmith!
FC: I know but I need to know what model. They put that on a bunch of different guns
1: it’s the one with writing on the side of the gun. It says. LADY SMITH on it. You know the one
I realize the strongest case for repealing the second amendment is spending a day talking to people at the gun show.
3PM: Two hours left to go! The end is in sight! I haven't sold a single fucking gun yet!
3:02 PM: Man walks up. Hey do you have the new Sig 925?
FC: You mean 365?
1: No the 925
FC: Sig does not make a 925
1: Yes they do, it's the new one.
FC: The 365?
1: No! The 925!
FC: Can you show me a picture?
1: It's the one on the magazine.
FC: Most of sigs guns have magazines.
1: I mean the one in print. It's on the cover.
FC: The cover of the periodical you mean?
1: Yeah! You know the new one!
FC: Well if it's on the cover, it should be easy to find on google. Can you show me a picture?
1: There's nothing coming up on google for the Sig 925
FC: Maybe perhaps its because it's the sig 365?
1: I'm telling you it's not that. It's the new one they just came out with. It's the 925.
FC: Care to make a wager?
FC: If you bring me a photo I can try to narrow it down.
1: I'll find the magazine at home and bring it in tomorrow.
3:12: Numismatist neighbor Noah asks me a question
Noah: Hey! What's a hi point?
FC: A cry for help!
Noah: No I mean price wise?
FC: Like $100, they're garbage guns.
Me and Noah start talking. I am moving more and more libertarian every day. He's the treasurer of his local LP chapter in Suffolk county. For a jewish kid from Riverhead, we sure have a lot in common. We get into an animated debate on the virtues of Kelo v New London in that it was a shitty position for the town of New London to take Susette Kelo's house for redevelopment under eminent domain. If they wanted to redevelop it, for the government to use eminent domain is a government run amok. As a libertarian, he hates government overreaching - as someone who also hates that sort of thing, we are in very vocal agreeance.
The tshirt vendor is listening to us debate the merits of the case and how the SCOTUS created a TERRIBLE precedent regarding government using the takings clause and when we finish he asks us a question.
TShirtGuy: How the fuck do you two know so much about a supreme court case?
Noah: Well, when you went to college and you're an economics and pre law major....
FC: Let me make it simple. WE ARE NERDS!
Everyone has a laugh.
TShirtGuy: Speaking of funny, check this out! He holds up a shirt.
It says in big print on the front: the the reason gun shows exist is so women can know what it’s like for when they drag men to the mall
3:13 PM: I get in an argument with the republican candidate for office of something or other on gun laws. He is stupid and he is going to lose.
3:23 PM: A nice lady walks up. She looks familiar. She looks at some guns and feels up a 226 and remarks how well she likes how it handles.
FC: You're Bernice, aren't you?
Bernice: Why yes I am! You do not look familiar. How do I know you?
FC: You're still working at the courthouse right?
Bernice: That's right!
FC: Judge Snyder, right?
Bernice: No! He moved up to the appellate circuit last month it's...
FC: Judge Reinhold! That's right, one of his JA's called me to buy a gun last month. I forgot Christine told me, you're right.
Bernice: Holy crap, you have an incredible memory. When was the last time you were in front of Judge Snyder?
FC: Four years ago. I was the one that filed the motion citing the big lebowski.
Bernice: OH MY GOD THAT WAS YOU? I remember that!
FC: Yeah and I had to go dumpster diving to get my phone back.
Shit, was that really 4 years ago? Fuck.
We talk more about guns and stuff. She loves her old West German 226. I tell her that if she really wants to have some fun, she should ask Judge Snyder to tag along on his next range day. About two years ago, the judge called me up asking for some advice. He's Tet offensive era USMC and wanted a new toy to reach out and touch someone and was dead set on getting a new SR25.
I talked him out of it because SR25's are stupid expensive. I knew of another dealer that had a T&E 20" SR25 that they were looking to unload cheap and I told him that with the amount of money he'd save going to the T&E gun versus the new one - the delta would more than cover a Nightforce NXS, rings and mounting and that would save him money and be a good performer. I'm friends with his daughter on facebook and they both looked like they had a lot of fun ringing the gong at the gun club.
Bernice is impressed. Too bad she's not my type, we'd get along fantastically if I was 15 years older.
4 PM: 60 minutes left to this shit show.
4:04PM: The loudspeaker crackles. ATTENTION ATTENTION: BRETT KAVANAUGH HAS JUST BEEN CONFIRMED TO THE SUPREME COURT.
The proletariat rejoices and hooting and hollering typically reserved for the LSU game breaks out in the hall.
ALSO WILL THE RED JEEP PARKED IN THE FIRE LANE PLEASE MOVE - YOU ARE BLOCKING THE BBQ GUY FROM LEAVING. RED JEEP. MOVE OR YOU WILL BE TOWED.
4:11 PM: Guy walks up in civvies.
1: I wanna buy this but I’m not a state resident
FC: well what’s your deal? Give me some more to work with.
1: I’m from Texas but I’m in the military
FC: if you got your orders - PCS to any base in this state says you’re a state resident, but if you don't - I can't help you. I know a lot of guys don't travel around with their orders....
JUST AS I SAY THAT the guy pulls out a wad of hundreds out of his pocket and his PCS paperwork, signed, rubber stamped and billeted.
THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.
I give him the clipboard as I look at his paperwork. No blank spaces, approved change of station to Barksdale AFB, address reads base housing, everything is in order for the young airman.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT. THIS IS AMAZING.
Forms done correct on the first swing.
I AM WAITING FOR THE OTHER SHOE TO DROP.
I call in the transaction and they tell me that the national system is down. NO IDEA WHEN IT'S GOING TO BE BACK UP.
I tell the USAF that the system is down and we can't do anything. He takes my card and hands me money and says just call him when it's ready to be picked up. Huh. Okay, he's cool with that. His girlfriend lives over here so he's back here every weekend. Done! I mark up the paperwork with some notes.
4:23 PM: One guy just walked up and told me that he had no idea HK made rifles. Apparently made a bunch of rifles a few years ago and stamped glocks name on them for Glock. Since Glock can't be found out to be making rifles. This captures the attention of another guy who asks me if my Glocks on the table have fluted firing pins. I tell him they do not make fluted firing pins. That makes no sense. He says yes they do make sense. They're fluted so they shoot underwater.
4:28 PM: Noah's table has someone in front of it debating buying some gold. As they delve into the discussion of gold and FIAT currency, I hear the following.
1: Bitcoin is a webpage. It’s like buying stock. Bitcoin issues shares and it dilutes so the price goes down.
Noah: I don't think that's how it works.
1: You’re basically buying a part of a big webpage
FC: This is like listening to someone try to explain that pi is exactly 3.
Noah: What's wrong with you?
FC: I am the Anthony Bourdain of the gun world. I eat, I drink and I yell at idiots.
4:45 PM It's getting close to show close, I need to get ready for the wedding. I grab my Lauren shirt that thankfully is non iron and just dressy enough to work and just casual enough to be worn without a tie if you need to and whip off my HK polo. I put on the shirt and tuck it in as I notice a lovely couple walk up out of the corner of my eye. Its Jim and Jane, Jane is a pharmacist that works at the hospital and Jim is a Gastroenterology resident at the hospital too. They buy lots of guns from me. I finish tucking in my shirt as we talk shop.
Jim wants 6 cans, 3 handgun and 3 rifle and wants to know what his options are. I rattle off all the options I would look at and I write some down on a legal pad for Jane to show him on the computer when he gets home. We talk 762 vs 556, 45 vs 9mm and direct thread vs QD for about 10 minutes as I tie off my blue Ted Baker tie into a Pratt knot. The apex of the tie just touches my belt buckle. Length is right on the money, and I didn't even have a mirror. Jane approves of my knot and color selection. Go me.
4:55 PM: Fabulousness achieved, I call back in and find out national system is still down. FUCK. Well this is gonna have to wait till tomorrow. I shove Airman Cecil O'Malley's paperwork under the table and start stowing stuff since the show is about to close.
4:59 PM: Table is covered up and FC is walking out the door as the announcement crackles over the loudspeaker. THE SHOW IS CLOSED. PLEASE LEAVE THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR.
5:01 PM: On the way to the wedding! I stop at Target along the way because I've forgotten to get a card. I find one that says "It was meant to brie" on the front. It has some greeting card herpes, aka glitter on it but I have no time to be picky. As I'm in line to checkout I write something cheeky.
"I always said love was cheesy and I camembert it sometimes.....Love, FC"
The cashier scans it, I plug my amex into the card reader as I slip in a yard in there and seal up the envelope and slide it into my jacket pocket.
The ride to the lake breaks every speed limit in two counties.
5:45PM: I arrive 15 minutes before the ceremony is about to begin and the parking staff puts me in the back lot. I hike over to the open bar and get a fresca. I'm supposed to behave myself, so FC quit drinking and is just chilling with a fresca as he scans the room.
I know NOBODY at this wedding except the bride, groom and MAYBE the bride's massage therapist. Nope. I know nobody here. Awwwkward. I behave myself and sip on a fresca as the wedding starts. She gets married. She says yes. He says yes. FC is an ordained minister and can step up and marry someone in case there's an emergency but my services will not be needed at this wedding because things are going smoother than a cold filtered miller genuine draft. It's all good. The DJ announces the new couple and they walk down the aisle together as husband and wife for the first time. The music starts playing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNEgUPKxk7A
ITS HEAVY D AND THE BOYZ! I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO TO A WEDDING WHERE THEY PLAY THE COUPLE OFF TO HEAVY D! I mention this to the people sitting next to me and they're like it's just like hitch!
I'm like what?
They go on to explain to me that it's a movie. Starring Will Smith. Huh. Didn't see that one.
5:45 PM: The open bar and the food is coming out. I look around and I definitely do not know ANYBODY HERE. I need to eat and go home. I grab a plate of cocktail shrimp and some lobster sliders and sit down at a picnic table away from the crowd. I don't even notice a busty brunette with cleavage showing also sitting at the table staring at her phone across from me until she says hi.
(I scarf down a lobster slider. Munch munch)
1: So how do you know the lovely couple?
FC: Well she was a friend of a friend and next thing you know I'm showing up to the Christmas party and the wedding. Then Seth is showing up and then they're getting married. You?
1: I work with Lisa, I'm a flight attendant. But I've been out of work for a few months. We had this thing at work. It's called a fume event. I happens when well uh how do I say?
FC: Contaminated bleed air via the pneumatic air conditioning kit - or PACK - gets into the cabin, causing all sorts of respiratory irritation and all sorts of other things for the crew. You're on the 320, right?
1: The airbus? Yeah. Me and Lise are also on the....
FC: 321 and the 319. Yeah, I'm familiar with the technology.
1: You're a pilot.
FC: Not exactly. I just know airplanes really well.
1: So you're an aerospace engineer.
FC: I wouldn't go that far. Hahaha. That's stretching it. A lot.
1: Let me get this right. You're friends with Lisa and Seth, you know airplanes, you're the only one at this wedding actually wearing a suit......
FC: To be fair, it's Louisiana in October. We're lucky most of the folks here aren't wearing Mossy Oak and Realtree.
1: Hahahahahhah! You must live in Baton Rouge!
FC: I do.
1: Me too! What part of the city? I live in (names neighborhood)
FC: I'm over in (neighborhood next to her)
1: OH MY GOD! That's 10 minutes from my house! So anyways, you're smart, you're funny, where have you been all my life? I'm Ally.
FC: I'm Will.
1: You wanna get dinner together? I literally do not know anyone else here and I was thinking about leaving before I met you.
FC: Uh sure. Lemme just top this fresca off.
1: I'll join you.
6:15 We're told by the bartenders to grab a ceremonial wedding tervis tumbler with a patch commemorating the happy couple's nuptials hermetically sealed inside. They didn't want a bunch of red solo cups going to the dumpster so they decided to ball out. I walk up to the table where there's literally 200 tumblers in varying colors to choose from and I grab a random one as Ally grabs one too. We head to the bar, she fills her with vodka and sprite. I top off with ginger ale because I'm staying sober and I have to drive 45 minutes back to casa de FC in BTR.
She asks me how I know so much about airplanes, I tell her it's been a lifelong obsession and I've done some ground school on the 320 and the 737 and I much prefer the 320. I ask her what's tough about her job and she tells me that most people don't know they only get paid when the doors close. I say yeah, block time is a real bitch sometimes. She looks at me like I'm crazy. I'm like what? She's like HOW DO YOU KNOW ABOUT BLOCK TIME? I told you, I know airplanes. We chat some more as the crowd gets drunker and drunker and more ridiculous on the dance floor. Someone requested Strokin' by Clarence Carter and the DJ ACTUALLY PLAYED IT. Goddamnit Lisa! HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF A DO NOT PLAY LIST? Wow.
7:10 PM We find some seats for dinner as the buffet opens up, I pile a bunch of chicken marsala and beef wellington on my plate and we head back to the table. She's only a few years older than me and cannot believe that I am single. She asks if I've tried tinder. I tell her the tinder story about me being stuffed into the back of a police car and it is met with raucous laughter.
1: So, do you dance?
FC: I do a lot of things, but I don't dance. Baton Rouge is the city that rhythm forgot.
1: I don't really dance either. As a matter of fact, I'm perfectly content to people watch all night with you here by my side.
Her hand ran down to touch mine. It had a ring on it.
FC: What does your husband think about that?
Next thing I know, Lisa and Seth have dropped by the table to say hello. They're taking pictures with everyone and we can't continue the conversation we were just having. Lisa dives in to hug Ally, Seth gives me a handshake, sips my drink and asks why there isn't any bourbon in that tumbler.
FC: Gotta behave myself. Long drive back home.
Ally: OH MY GOD LISA! Will is FANTASTIC! Where have you been keeping him? He's funny, he's amazing and he looks hot in a suit! If I wasn't married, he'd be the perfect guy!
(We're cut off by Lisa, she looks at me sternly.)
Lisa: WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?
Lisa: Yesterday! When I was getting my wedding dress fitted! You called me a half attractive woman.....
FC: It's not a normal occurrence! Most of the women who open my door are total heifers! For real! Take the compliment!
Lisa cracks up, and Seth who has had a few drinks laughs so hard that he damn near falls over. You can hear the cackle of his laugh carry across the lake. The best man props him back up and they all have a laugh. The wedding planner slides in and tells the bride that her cake has been outside of refrigeration for an hour and 15 minutes now and is structurally deficient. They need to cut it now before it collapses in upon itself like a black hole. Lisa grabs Ally, Seth grabs me and the rest of the table follows. We're now part of the wedding cake cutting crew.
7:15 PM: The entourage all takes their Instagram positions as Lisa cuts into her structurally deficient cake and Seth resists the urge to do anything cheeky and fun with frosting. It's cute, everyone toasts the newlyweds.
7:20 PM: I pull Lisa aside privately and I ask her - what the fuck is Ally's deal? "If I wasn't married he'd be the perfect guy?" WHO THE FUCK SAYS THAT? A married woman? At a wedding? To a guy she JUST MET?
Lisa: Look, I have no idea how her marriage is going or what her deal is. But just because there's a goalie doesn't mean you can't score.
FC: WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?
Lisa: It means that maybe, if she's throwing herself at you......you should catch her. I gotta go throw the bouquet. Brb.
7:25 Lisa goes to throw her bouquet and Ally has found me and is back at my side.
1: Where were we? I was just saying to Lisa that I was wondering where a guy like you has been all my life? You are awesome.
FC: I am awesome, and you are married.
1: Yeah, I know. Come on, I really want you......I mean I really want you......to go photobooth with me. Come on, it'll be fun.
She grabs my arm and drags me to the photobooth and she puts ridiculous hats and stuff on me. I'm like no, I've been looking ridiculous enough from birth. i'm good. She literally begs me with puppy dog eyes and does that thing where she shows cleavage.
FC: Isn't this like against one of the ten commandments? Thou shalt not......photobooth with another man's wife?
1: Hmm. Yeah, I guess. You're really sweet though. If I was single, I'd be all over you right now.
FC: Who says that? Really?
1: So, answer me this. You're not an engineer. You're not a pilot. What do you do?
FC: Gun dealer.
1: So if I had something like an AR15 that needed some work, you'd be the guy to call?
FC: Maybe, depending on what you needed - there's a lot of things where I'll just tell you flat out what you're trying to do is uneconomical and a bad idea.
1: Well, I'd really like it if you could check out some of my equipment sometime.
FC, internal monologue: WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE
FC, external monologue: Bring it by the gun show this weekend and I'll see what I can do.
I crack an uneasy smile as she gets up to go use the bathroom. I decide it's time to get the fuck out of here.
8:11 Making my escape plan proves to be a little tougher than I expected. The parking at the venue at the lake is dark and unlit and I have to navigate my way back to my car in the dark using the light from my phone. I reach into my jacket and I realize that their card is still inside. Fuck. I gotta go back. I turn around and head back to the gift table and I use some ninja recon skills I picked up in catholic school to make sure Ally is nowhere nearby. The coast is clear. I walk up to the little birdcage they have for cards, drop mine in confidently and get ready to turn on my heel and leave. I start making my way back to the parking lot when Seth is just walking out of the bathroom next to the gift table.
1: Hey man, you heading home?
FC: I am now, forgot to drop off your card.
1: Ally thought you left without saying goodbye to her, so she asked me for your number. I gave it to her.
FC: Oh dear lord.
FC: Did you hear that woman? "If I was single, you'd be the perfect guy!" Those words are not in a vocabulary of any married woman I know.
1: Dude, you just gotta chill out and go with the flow man. It's not your marriage. If she wants a piece of you, cut her off a slice.
FC: Are you serious?
1: When I met Lisa, she was still married to Freddie. Look at us now, 7 years later and we're happy. You want to be happy, don't you?
FC: Yeah but....
1: No but's! Go storm the castle! I gotta go, but I'll catch you at the afterparty tomorrow night! You going?
FC: Yeah at your house right?
1: Yeah, what time the gun show wrap up?
FC: 4, so I'll be out by 5.
1: I got steaks going on the grill at 3, I'll get save a nice one for you. You still a medium rare guy?
FC: You know it!
1: I think Ally is gonna be there too, you two should get to know each other a little better.
FC: That's what I'm afraid of!
Seth goes back to his wedding, I hop in the car and drive home. It's almost 10PM as I approach the Jersey mikes by my house. I stop in to grab a sandwich for Sunday.
Just as I walk up I hear one of the sandiwch makers swear she's going to slit the throat of the next person who orders a sandwich. Eep. I tell her I need a giant 9. She starts making me one. I ask her if she's trying to get out of here right at 10? She says yeah, she's trying to catch the end of the Yankees/Red Sox game. I tell her my old man was from Brighton and my mom was from Elmhurst, so there's no love lost there. We have a laugh. She caught the Yankees pummeling the A's in the wild card on Wednesday. I whip out my phone and check the score for her. Yankees are up 6-2. I tell her she should be able to catch the end of it at home or whatever sports bar she's going to. She tells me she's going to the outback steakhouse the next block over to watch it and they better have the game on when she rolls up in 15. I tell her I'll do her one better. I dated the bartender there (once, she friendzoned me) and I'll message her on facebook to have it on for you. It is at this moment, I am asked for the second time that evening - from a strange woman I've just met - where have I been all her life?
I head home, throw my sandwich in the fridge and head to bed wondering WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?
Did FC like get game all of a sudden?
Donald Trump is President.
The Eagles won the super bowl.
You can't make this shit up.
I got one more day at the gun show too.
Postscript: As I write this, it's Columbus day and the Indians, the Redskins and Braves all got their asses handed to them.
We truly live in interesting times.
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