Congratulations Mr Foote on your 50th story published by Literally Stories.
The New Springfield 7.62×51mm sniper, SO, with Inversion Camera Scope has perfect balance, elegantly carved walnut stocks, precision parts, outstanding reliability, and incredible accuracy. It fits hands, shoulder, face, and eyes like an extension of the body. It’s an exceptionally fine tool for killing people at long range.
It’s a one soldier weapon. The Inversion Scope eliminates the need for a spotter. The gun is a work of art. It’s one of the most excellent tools I have ever had the pleasure of operating, but only for four months and twenty-five days.
The replacement’s a hunk of junk. Plastic, carbon fiber, chemistry set materials, unnatural and unreal, without personality or appeal.
If the Lieutenant, the Captain or even the Major had tried to get me to trade my New Springfield for that Star Wars bullshit; we would have exchanged words. I would have kept my Springfield, turned my back, walked away. And that would have been the end of it.
But the Bowling Ball, the Chief Master Sergeant, came for my gun. His black bowling ball, bald head with a neckless attachment to his bowling ball torso and his bowling ball fist rolled up on me, pointed at my Springfield and placed a plastic gun case on my bunk.
Not one word out of him. I should have told him to fuck off, to get lost. I should have stared him down. I should have – I swallowed hard, shook my head, no, but I handed him that prized extension of me.
As he departed with my rifle, he said, “Three days.” I interpreted this to mean that if I was still unhappy for three days, I could come and see him, and he would return my weapon of choice. I hope that’s what he meant.
The plastic toy replacement has poor weight distribution, worse balance, feels cheap and is as ugly as home-made sin. It is infused with hideous green-gray camouflage colors and infected with odd bumps, grooves, indentations, and rough, unfinished spots. It’s a fucking disaster.
There’s no scope. There’s a tiny screen that pops up where the scope should be. There are three circles that the shooter is supposed to line up on the target. Three cameras in the make-believe gun supply the images on the screen. It’s fucking ridiculous.
There’s a sixteen-hour training video that comes with this Frankenstein of a weapon. I watch the first three minutes. What a goddam waste of time.
I have targets one mile out and moving on foot three armed males well-spaced and keeping low, moving fast with good intermittent cover. Impossible shots. The plastic feels so alien against my skin, and I’m uncomfortable with the balance of the weapon; the screen’s way too small, and – I stop thinking. I breathe life into the plastic, sweat feeling into the unfeeling, ground the butt of the weapon into the flesh and blood of my shoulder. I line up the circles. The gun fires me. The weapon pulls my trigger finger.
“Control, this is Alpha-Hotel, off targets, three down. Mission accomplished. I’m homeward bound.”
I take the rifle in for a calibration check. I’m required to do this every day for the first week of use. The techie shines a little flashlight at the gun as I enter the Tech Shop.
“What did you just do with that gadget?”
The techie holds up the tiny tube for my inspection. “I turned it off. This is a remote on/off.”
“Well, shit. I should have one of those.”
“You need to take that up with the brass or God or somebody, but not me.”
On the second day of calibration, I have a complaint. “See, look at the counter. It shows one shot fired and three killed. It should be one for one.”
The same techie pulls up the screen. We watch a playback of my last shot. When we watch carefully, we see the one-shot terminates three targets. Wow!
“Come on Hotshot you need to watch the movies after the kills.”
I don’t watch the movies, ever.
On the third day of calibration, I’m just opening the door to leave when the techie calls me back. “Hotshot, come on back. It checks out. Take your rifle. I don’t need to see you or your weapon again. Good-bye and good luck.”
I don’t use the circles or the screen anymore. I pick her up, hold her tight, close my eyes, she fires me. The movies go to headquarters on some wireless connection. I get letters of commendation.
Two weeks after she comes into my life. I pass the Bowling Ball. He stops talking on his Com/Phone long enough to say, “Henderson, for God’s sake, don’t fall in love with the bitch.”
I have a smart-ass answer on the tip of my tongue, but the Bowling Ball has moved on, and it’s too late… I mean, I mean; it’s too late to respond to the Chief Master Sergeant. That’s what I mean.
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