This, I’m afraid, is not a story about a thing my husband did. Or a thing my husband said. (Although, seriously, remind me to tell you about the time he started a rumor as a social experiment that ended in flooding and destruction of government property and necessary supplies.)
This is yet another story about his time in a snazzy blue beret, during his days as a Professional Walker. In this story, he was walking along and just happened to witness one of Uncle Sam’s finest, being all he could be.
Assignment: Provide a visible border patrol for the Republic of Macedonia.
Uniform: Standard Army issue, plus one powder blue beret – starched to perfection.
Rules of Engagement: DON’T. Seriously. Even if you’re fired on, just fucking duck behind a wall or some shit and radio in that you’re taking fire. Do not, under any circumstances, fire a goddamned bullet or there will be hell to pay.
Here’s the thing, though: a Military presence, making a show of marching around, driving around, and guarding sand castles (I’m working on getting you a picture of that, I swear) and not carrying any sort of weapon at all would look rather silly, even if you account for their terribly sharp blue beret. So guns are issued, and a clip of ammunition in a ziploc bag. Your bullets will be counted later, so you’d better have an excellent explanation for any that are missing!
Now, some of you might live in Texas, and therefore wouldn’t have guessed, but you cannot come onto a post or military base armed. True story – the place where they keep all the guns and tanks and planes is exactly where they don’t let you bring a gun, even if it’s the one that they issued to you for the purposes of defending democracy and whatnot. Now, this isn’t much of an issue stateside, but out where they do a lot of moving between base and outposts – where our story takes place, for example – there is a procedure for coming onto either while carrying: remove all ammunition, and, to prove that your weapon is empty, fire into a barrel of sand they keep right there at the gate. There should be a dry *click* to prove your gun is now just a scary-looking paperweight, at which point you’re free to move on.
On this particular day, Husband was walking along, minding his own business as much as was possible under the circumstances, when he saw a vehicle pull up to the gate of the home base; this was a medic, back from an outpost run of patching up boo-boos and refilling med kits, but even he had to carry a gun, just in case someone was watching. Or whatever.
So, right there, as Husband watched, the medic slid back the bolt to clear the chamber, released the bolt, dropped the clip,* moved the selector from “safe” to “fire” and…
The MP’s at the gate moved quickly, spurred to action by the sound of goddamned gunfire. Meanwhile, startled by the shot from his apparently magical weapon, the medic pulled a confused face and slowly turned the gun over in his hand, then around, to look down the barrel…
Whereupon he was tackled by the MP’s, because HOLY FUCK, that idiot just shot an innocent sand barrel and then turned the gun on himself!
Husband moved on quickly at that point, both to be further away from the scene of reckoning and to make sure that story got the exposure it deserved. To that end, he eventually married me, though he claims the two are totally unrelated and the fact that I tell these stories (at great length and with no provocation or prompting) had no part in the attraction.
* It was at this point in the story, the very first time that Husband-Who-Was-Then-Boyfriend told it to me, that I gasped in horror** and started making frantic arm waving motions, as though I could warn the idiot medic about the ginormous mistake he was making. Because I’ve seen a panicked MP, and they’re not friendly or understanding.
** Husband tells me that he loved that I got it, that I knew already what the medic had done wrong. For those of you who didn’t catch the error, pulling back the bolt does indeed clear the chamber if a bullet is queued up, but releasing it pulls another from the clip. Which is why you’re meant to drop the clip, then pull back the bolt. The medic, a fully-trained Army soldier, had left exactly one bullet in his gun.