Open Fire

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.

“And how.”

“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.”

“You sure?”

“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.

Open fire.

63 thoughts on “Open Fire”

  1. Well Done Fillet says:

    first? I cant go first……I get stage fright…..I’ll be back after 46th comment…

  2. Jones says:

    Bellagio is the best hotel on the Strip. It’s beautiful. And usually generous to me when I play blackjack there. 🙂

    Maybe I’ll check that range out next time I’m there. I’ve always wanted to fire an M1 rifle.

  3. Jeff says:

    Hehe… that is one of my favorite places to go when I’m there. One of the few in the country where you can rent and fire a full-auto weapon.

    Glad 2 clips helped relieve you of some of your intellectual burdens.

  4. Rachel 2 says:

    Isn’t it great when a physical action makes you understand an emotional response? I love how life has quirks and cycles that we aren’t even aware of, a lot of the time.

    Glad you had success mastering your aims.

  5. Corey says:

    You know to always aim for the head, right Waiter?

  6. Chef Green says:

    I think I need to take up shooting. There are alot of “zombies” that need proper killings.

    Glad you’re finding your feet again, Steve.

  7. witchypoo says:

    Hah! Loved the post, but that pesky Manuel upstaged you with his first comment.

  8. Lori says:

    Great post! Makes me feel hopeful. And for sure I’m taking my husband to the Gun Store next time we’re in Vegas. Sounds like a hoot!

  9. mike says:

    Lean into it …

    Thanks. Those words apply to me as well; thanks for sharing!

  10. Peter P says:

    Yeaaahhhh!! That’s more like it.

  11. The Bartender says:

    Houston, we have Splashdown.

  12. Greg says:

    The Gun Store is a lot of fun — I don’t gamble, so that’s where I drop cash when I’m in Las Vegas — but leave it to the Waiter to draw Life Lessons from it!

  13. Chayia says:

    Great attitude.

    We all get down at certian times in our lives but I believe being strong is taking those moments and realizing that they aren’t forever, that you control your future, your life. Not the other way around.

    This is what your post reminded me of. Thank you.

  14. Jessica says:

    Eugh. Americans and their gun fetish. American imperialists in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places where they’re unleashed on human beings have said similar. And the Iraqis, Afghanis and other human beings are being turned into human jelly too.

  15. russgrad says:

    Way to go Steve! The Gun Store is a great place to go. My wife shot her first gun on our last trip to Vegas there. Now she’s trying to decide what to shoot with next. You’ve got to try an AK-47!

    Jessica…bite me!

  16. paul says:

    they are being turned into human jelly by each other, (e.g. this morning’s news tells of a bomb going off at a mosque). Sad but true, they have to stop butchering each other.

  17. Rich says:

    “American imperialists……”

    Liberalism is a mental disorder.

  18. jrh456 says:

    Sometimes the inspiration and the best advice for life comes from the most unexpected places

    Great story


  19. Jones says:

    Politics >>>> Exit

    Please let the door hit you on the way out.

  20. Marcy says:

    I really loved this one. Thank you!

  21. dave says:

    “…American imperialists…”

    Jessica, if Americans were imperialists, we could have easily taken over Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America whenever we wanted. We like Canada, we (mostly) like Mexico for their culture and, especially, their beaches but they do have oil so what’s stopping us? Could it be that we’re not the oil-thirsty imperialists you believe us to be? No, it’s just the Euro-trash of the world projecting their hate on us.

    WWII Germany, China, Russia – those are imperialist nations. Study their forms of governments and get back to us with that statement. Don’t worry though. We’ll still be here for you if one of the other countries invades your’s. You can rest easy in that thought, Jessica.

    To: Jones
    When this becomes your site, then you can make the rules. Otherwise, don’t preach to me. I don’t care for the discussion of politics on a non-political site either but when one dunderhead insults the host of this site and his country, he has the right to let his readers give sh!t back to them.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I love reading your stuff. And I’m really only commenting so that first poster will come back and write something.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Two posts about firing guns recently … hmm, are you sure you’re ok?

  24. Becs says:

    Lean into it, baby.

  25. Sami-Ann says:

    Okay you know what? THen you have asshole’s like Osama Bin Laden who killed thousands of innocent people on 9/11, Saddam Hussein who gassed thousands of his OWN citizens, Hitler who killed millions of Jews, handicapped, Catholics, whoever he decided he didn’t like that day. Oh, and take a look at most of Africa as we speak!

    It was the AMERICANS who helped to end WWII and who have helped END GENOCIDE, even though our manner in which it was done was terrible. I don’t necessarily agree with this war we’re in now, but don’t you DARE THINK FOR ONE MINUTE WE ARE A KILLING PEOPLE. If anything, we are some of the biggest advocates for peace in the world. Who defended the Muslims in Syria in the 90’s? THE MOTHERFARKING AMERICANS.

    We don’t have a perfect history. We treated our natives and African Americans like shit for generations. But you know what? We don’t stand for that anymore. You wanna talk imperialists? Look at the British in the 1700’s and 1800’s. Look what they did to Australia! How can you single out the United States?

    The point is, EVERY country and EVERY race has their faults. For you to stereotype and single out Americans is sinful and flat out IGNORANT.

    GROW UP.

  26. Scarlett O'hara says:


    Stupidity can sometimes be remedied by the absence of ignorance. If you wish to speak intelligently about a subject you should learn all sides of the argument. Instead of just listening to propaganda you may want to think for yourself.

  27. Ryan says:

    Thanks waiter… just the words of encouragement I needed to hear today.

  28. Bryan says:

    Bellagio for blackjack eh? You’re a high roller!

  29. admin says:

    If this post turns into some kind of troll infested comment war I’ll shut off the comments for this entry.

  30. Beau says:

    Ever since I was in the Army, I’ve always maintained that you’ve never really had fun until you’ve fired automatic weapons. If you ever get the opportunity to try it at night and with tracer rounds, I highly recommend it 😉

  31. Kensey says:

    amen, admin!

    Steve-thanks for tipping us on a Vegas destination while researching tipping in Vegas! The Gun Store is now on my list.

  32. A fan says:

    “When you absolutely, positively have to kill every motherfucker in the room, this is the gun you want to have.”
    You crack me up Waiter!
    Seriously I love your writing. I wish I had the knack for entertaining writing.

  33. Zohar says:

    I love the pen shaped rifle for check signing… Perfect.

  34. Kevin says:

    Sounds like a good time! Definitely a lot cheaper to rent than pay the $20k or so for a transferable one, but hey with idiots like Jessica passing ’em up more to go around for me!

  35. Booply says:

    I would never count on an mp5 to clear out a room. Even in semi-auto, it’s just not a gun you’d want to use unless you have extensive training. If you go full-auto, as you noticed, it empties the mag in less than 2 seconds of holding down the trigger. It sure is fun to fire a gun though when you’re po’ed. Gun-ranges make it nice like that, where you can just let loose, responsibly of course. Main reason I own a beretta 9mm, to fire off a couple of clips to take the edge off. I’m not much into meditation like some people, but I’m also not into killing people either. I just like firing guns in a safe environment without any politics interfering.

  36. Jennlm says:

    Good for you!

  37. Nurse Carolyn says:

    Two thoughts…(tongue in cheek, of course)

    How long until the check from NRA shows up in your mailbox?

    Your visit to the gun store is just the male equivalent to women going on a shopping spree at a shoe discounter and bringing home a dozen pairs…aka Retail Therapy.

  38. Mac The Bartender says:

    Well put waiter… Cheers…

  39. admin says:

    I’ve seem women out those shoe sales. The gleam in their eye is can be psycho killer murderous!

  40. Food Service Ninja says:

    question for ya Waiter-whats the rental rate for an mp5?

    But most impt how much for the plumo or plato pens-way tips have been of late I need a dozen STAT

  41. Woo says:

    Hey Waiter!

    That is so awesome that you went to the Gun Store! Was it already in your plan or did my comment suggesting it have any impact?

    Glad you enjoyed it! Shooting great weapons like the HK MP5 is a great stress relief! I’m glad you felt it too.

  42. nunya says:

    Mr. D,

    I don’t even like weapons and I understood that.

  43. dman says:

    You want to buy so more bullets?

  44. tem says:

    Has anyone mentioned that you resemble Chuck Taggart from the Gumbo Pages?

  45. Emery from Washington but on Maui says:

    Great therapy, thank you! (Are you gonna send me a bill?)

  46. paulWTAMU says:

    Did you rent any other guns? I’ve always wanted to try the FN90 pretty badly, or a skorpion machine pistol…seems like a good place to do so!

  47. Ashley says:

    Despite the advice being somewhat cliche, I can really feel it resonate with me. Lean into whatever you are afraid of. Control it instead of letting it control you.

    Nice post. 🙂

  48. Lynn " Lulu" Bagdon says:

    Hey Mister Waiter,
    I ordered your book after seeing you on the tail end of Oprah,
    I got your book, I have read it at the end of my night shift. OMG.
    This is my life! You crack me up for a lot of different reasons. \

    There are so many things that I can relate to.
    I work 5-11. When I get home, I do normal things that people do when they work 9-5, read the paper, relax, make dinner, watch TV, Pay bills, check E-mail? I just make it 12 hourS later, I sleep till noon, get up and go to work at 4, that is my morning!

  49. kdollarsign says:

    Hi Steve! I work in PR — saw this media inquiry and thought of you — you may be interested in reaching out to this freelancer… here is her inquiry:

    I am writing an article (in the query stage, possibly for a top U.S. daily) titled, “What to Tip When Every Dollar Counts: The New Rules.” Since the economy has taken a turn for the worse and then the even worse, many workers are more dependent on tips than ever. But millions of people have lost their jobs and are not spending as they used to. They eat out once a month rather than once a week, and when they do, they order less expensive food items or fewer items. What are people tipping at times like these, when every dollar counts? What are the new rules for tipping in a down economy? I will interview workers whose incomes are based on tips (restaurant servers, bartenders, taxi drivers, valet/parking attendants, hotel doormen, beauticians, etc.), people who have changed their tipping practices, experts from the hospitality industry, and financial gurus. I will include a sidebar, “The New Rules for Tipping.” Please do not send attachments at this time. Contact: Judy Mandell,

  50. sadianne says:

    This post reminds me of yoga class. The harder you struggle, the more difficult it is to maintain the pose. You need to embrace it, accept it, lean into it.

    But there are days, I could really use a gun and zombie!

  51. Jolene says:

    I’ve only just discovered your blog recently and have been keeping up via my rss reader, but felt I had to comment today…

    Las Vegas, machine guns, zombies… I love how you embraced the Gonzo spirit and let it roll… H.S. Thompson would be proud.

    Keep up the great work!

    New fan, and from a long family tradition of waitstaff,


  52. Jolene says:

    PS: I meant the whole Vegas trip, by the way… not just today. Good luck with your interviews!

  53. Jennifer says:

    Ah Recoil Therapy! Just what the doctor ordered. There’s a place around here with Full Auto Fridays. Honestly, one trigger-pull per shot does it for me just fine. Ammo’s expensive.

  54. Lani says:

    Your entry made me laugh. My hubby spends the day at the target range after a bustin’ a$$ all day. He says its great stress relief. He bought me a pistol for Christmas. I’m still learning but I hope to pulverize zombies soon too.

    Good work

  55. Malinda777 says:

    What happened to the original blog? Is this it? I seem to remember 100’s of comments after a post…

    I wanted to send my favorite Maitre d’ a special copy of your book 🙂 I couldn’t find the links to all those great stories you wrote around 2005 with hundreds of comments…

    Perhaps it’s a blonde moment 🙂

  56. fsd says:

    Your entry made me laugh. My hubby spends the day at the target range after a bustin’ a$$ all day. He says its great stress relief. He bought me a pistol for Christmas. I’m still learning but I hope to pulverize zombies soon too.中国公文网

  57. Old Sarge says:

    God bless you, sir. Full-auto is dandy fun, although it;s far better when the government is paying for the ammo. Anyway, it’s a wonderfully cathartic experience. Jessica, get a life!

  58. db 345 dinerwaiter says:

    what happened to the waiter web site, who give’s a crap about your boring life you loser!!!!

  59. loomis tripp says:

    WHO CARES???????????????????

  60. Felix Eddy says:

    Hey Waiter! Long-time reader of the Blog, Love your book, And I’ve been recomending it to waiter friends ever since it came out. I had a similar panic-meltdown in Vegas last year, one of those temporary lonliness/exhaustion episodes compounded by the unreality of the place and realizing you’re far away from home and loved ones… I think it’s probably more common than you’d imagine. Good luck with your next book, I’ll be looking forward to reading it!

  61. Margaret says:


    This is one of my favorite posts of late, kinda reminds me of the stuff you were writing before the book. I have been a fan for a long time; you have a true gift, and reading your writings is sometimes the last thing I do before I fall asleep at night. Please keep on sharing with us often!

  62. linds says:

    experienced something similar while rock climbing. i was struggling in a tight spot, body contorted, trying to figure out where my next move would be, holding on with all my strength. then my spotter said, “just try standing up.” and i did… and it was the easiest thing in the world.

    sometimes we make things more difficult than they are… and the way out is just to do what’s natural.

    that lesson has stuck with me ever since.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *