It’s the day after my nocturnal pity party. I somehow managed to get a few good hours of sleep and the bump on the roof of my mouth shrank to half it’s original size. After that good news, eating a decadent room service breakfast, and getting a good interview under my belt, you’d think I’d feel better. I don’t. To the casual onlooker I look laid back and composed, but inside I’m hot, angry, impatient, and feeling raw.
So I guess it’s a bad idea that I’m holding a submachine gun.
The German made Heckler and Koch MP5 is a one of the world’s preeminent close quarter weapons. Chambered in 9mm Parabellum, it has a cyclic rate of fire of about 800 rounds a minute. When you absolutely, positively have to kill every motherfucker in the room, this is the gun you want to have. And if you’re in Las Vegas and have a fistful of cash to spend, the Gun Store on 2900 East Tropicana Avenue will be happy to rent one to you.
“You ready?” the instructor says, after briefing me on the MP5’s manual of arms.
“Ready,” I reply.
“Go for it.”
I slap the cocking handle closed with the heel of my right hand, tuck the weapon tight into my left shoulder, peer through the sights, snick of the safety, and pull straight back on the trigger. The weapon burps out several bullets. The cartoon zombie on the paper target flutters.
“How’d I do?” I ask the instructor.
“You missed,” he replies.
“I hate when that happens.”
“Lean into it more. You’re letting the thing control you. Don’t be afraid of it.”
Something in the instructor’s words resonates with me but I don’t know why. I reshoulder the gun, shift my body weight forward, and pull the trigger. This time I blow the zombie’s head off with a five round burst,
“Better,” the instructor says. “Now try going full auto.”
I re-align my sights and let fly. Twenty rounds zip out of the gun and tear the paper zombie in half.
“Now that’s something you don’t get to do everyday!” I shout.
“Cool ain’t it?” the instructor says.
“You’re out,” he says. “Reload.’
With some help from the instructor I reload the weapon. When I slap the cocking handle closed a smile creeps across my face. I pick an aim point on the zombie and fire.
The gun rattles and roars. The air fills with the smell of gunpowder. A hot shell casing lands on my collar and rolls underneath my shirt. I ignore it. As the carbine dumps it’s recoil into my body a purgative rage sweeps through me. Whatever I was feeling last night is square in my sights and I’m killing it. Killing it dead. Now I know why the instructor’s words resonated with me.
Suddenly the gun is empty and there is silence.
“Have fun?” the instructor asks.
“That was something,” I reply.
“You want to buy some more bullets? Go some more?”
I look at the holes in the tattered zombie. While there’s a few misses there’s a lot more hits. If that zombie had been a real person he’d be human jelly.
“No, I’m good.”
“I’m sure. Thanks.”
“Thank you, sir.”
I leave the range and head for the gift shop. I buy a pen shaped like a rifle bullet. I’ll give the pen to a waiter friend of mine. If that doesn’t send the message to cheap customers at sign the check time, I don’t know what will.
I walk out of the Gun Store. It’s late and evening’s making it’s cooling presence known. In the distance the mountains that ring the city are falling into shadow. The neon lights of Las Vegas begin their escape from the muting effects of sunlight and start throbbing in anticipation of the encroaching night. I zip up my leather coat for warmth.
“Lean into it,” I say aloud. “You’re letting the thing control you. Don’t be afraid of it.”
I smile. Whatever I was feeling last night is gone. I hail a cab.
“Where you going?” the cabbie asks,
“The Bellagio please,” I reply. “I’m gonna play me some blackjack.”
“Then let’s go brother.”
I hop in next to the cabbie and we head towards The Strip. I’m leaning into Las Vegas and the rest of of my life. It doesn’t control me. I’m not afraid of it.