A Short Story by
by Domenic Migliore
(Originally written at Bridgeview Academy Therapeutic Day School in 2005)
"Let me help you with that. "Frank turned around to see a stout, muscular man eyeing him. The man repeated himself: "Can I help you with that?”
"Uh, sure…" Frank smiled. He looked down to the man's nametag. It read Buster. "Uh, Buster."
"Please, call me Jim." The man said politely.
"Okay, Jim." Frank turned back to the shelf.
"This is our latest model." Buster pulled down a small semi-automatic pistol. "It's a Beretta compact. Put it in your pocket and you can pop it out and scare the pants off of the crook."
"Oh, I don't intend to use it on a person. I'm really looking for a hunting rifle." Frank corrected.
"Oh, nuts." Buster set the pistol back on the rack. "Why get a rifle when you could get this?" He pulled down another pistol. "The Glock Seventeen. You know how many holes you could put into a buck with this bad boy?"
"Actually, I really am looking for a rifle."
"All right, come with me." Buster said, disappointed. He put the Glock back in the display as they walked to the back of the store.
"I've got something that'll knock your socks off." Buster took out a pair of keys and swung them right into the lock. He turned them and typed in a combination of buttons on the entry pad.
There was a click and a beep. Buster put the keys back into his pocket.
"Hey, Crease!” Buster yelled. I'm going back to the Killi-ma-jig!
"Alright, Jim!" A woman yelled back.
In the back, there was a large room filled with rifles, semi-automatics, shotguns, snipers, fully auto weapons, any firearm you could imagine.
"Follow me." Buster skipped ahead. Frank followed behind. They stopped in front of a large rack of automatic rifles.
"I can't use these." Frank groaned.
"Come on." Buster said gleefully as he reached up for a large weapon.
"It's a M-Sixteen." He said. "Fully automatic. Hollow point rounds if ya like." Buster stuck in a magazine. "Or the M-Four? The G-Thirty-Six? A M-Fourteen? A Fifty cal sniper rifle if you’d like?"
"What?" Frank asked.
"The fifty cal sniper rifle."
"Oh, Cal used to be my nickname."
"And why's that?"
"My last name's Caliber."
"No kidding. Mind if I call you Cal from now on?"
"You haven't been calling me anything so far."
"Oh good, Cal. That sounds great. Now I prefer the PSG-One."
"Oh, man. I don’t think I’m even licensed to carry any of these." Frank began. "Can't..."
Buster cut him off. "Oh fiddle-faddle, Cal!”
"I really just prefer what you got out front." Said Frank.
"All right, negative Nancy Sinatra. I'll take ya back."
After Buster took Frank back to the front of the shop, Frank tried his best to make a dash for the exit. But he wasn’t so lucky…
"Wait, Frank!" Yelled Buster. "How about this Saturday, me and you go up to the mountains and I show ya how to really bag some good game?"
Frank tried to make up an excuse fast: "Actually, I was planning on…"
Buster cut him off: "Just give me your address and I'll find ya. I could really show ya how to shoot."
"I don't think so, Buster." Frank said as he darted out of the store.
“Call me Jim!” Buster yelled after him.
That Saturday, Frank sat on his couch watching TV when there was a knock on his apartment door. Frank got up andanswered it.
"Hello." Said Buster. The stout man was wearing tan and green camouflaged hunting gear. "Ready to go?"
"Buster… What the…?”
"It’s Jim, remember? Come on, I've got everything loaded up."
"But how did you find me?"
"You know that day you left the gun shop? I followed you. Now come on, lazy bones. Let's go." Buster turned to lead the way. "Come on!"
Frank felt he had no choice in the matter, nor did he want to be rude. So he went along.
Frank had never seen such a forest. It was gated off. A large sign in front of it read, simply:Private Hunting Preserve.
"Like it?" Buster asked as they drove off into the vast forest.
"Yeah." Frank began. "I've never seenanything like it."
They set up on a cliff. Frank had an old Winchester while Buster had a M-Four with a nine-hundred yard scope.
"See 'em?" Buster asked, looking through the scope.
"Yeah." Frank said looking at all the deer. "Wow!"
Buster fired. The shot was silenced by his rifle's sound-suppresser.
"You missed." Frank said seeing not a single deer scathed.
"Oh, my god." Frank said seeing the wounded man lying face up on the ground. “What did we do?”
Upon closer inspection, Frank noticed that the man was butt-naked, with an identification number burned into his thigh. His eyes, teeth, and tongue were all surgically removed.
Buster charged out from their cover, pulled out a Beretta compact, and shot the already harmed man twice in the head.
“You’re right!” Buster blurted out. “My shot was a few inches off.”
"Oh, god!" Frank screamed. "Oh, god!"
"I hope I’m not getting rusty.”
"Are you insane?!"
"You're not going to partake?" Buster asked." Come on, shoot one. There's one!" Buster pointed to another sightless naked man running through the woods.
"You're crazy!" Frank said, before finally taking off back down the hills toward their vehicle. Buster raised his rifle and managed to put a round into Frank's shoulder just before he got out of sight.
"Why doesn't anyone like to hunt with me?" Buster inquired of Frank’s lifeless head, now sitting stuffed upon his mantle. "Do you think it's because I'm too soft-a fella?"