Monday, December 29, 2003


When I lived in L.A. a biker friend of mine from the north would occasionally invite me to go shooting out in the oilfields. It was fun. He had a regular arsenal: a couple of 45 calibers, a 9 mil, a .357, and some 22's, both rifles and handguns. He also packed a couple of 10 gauge shotguns. Much too much firepower for shooting tin cans, but you've got to use them for something.
We'd drive outside the city limits, down the oilfield trails and off the road a little ways. Shooting off rounds out there wasn't really legal, but it was common practice. As long as you weren't doing any hunting without a license the local law enforcement didn't much care.
We would practice every conceivable scenario. From drawing holstered weapons on quickshot targets, to sniperlike shooting from a distance of a dotsized target, to tight patterns on shotgun spreads, shooting imaginary moving beasts. It was an easy way to waste a few bucks on ammo.
Afterwards, we'd spend the evening shooting the breeze and cleaning out the weapons. We would put great care into this. Both of us were veterans and knew the benefits of keeping clean, well lubricated firearms. Kids were everywhere. Like every good biker household, my buddy provided shelter for destitute friends and their children. There never failed to be an abundance of people.
Late that night, and for some unknown reason, after emptying out the unspent shells from a shotgun, he miscounted and when he thought it was empty, he aimed the shotgun at the ceiling and pulled the trigger. The final remaining case shot out with a tremendous BANG! Everything stopped and we all stared at him in disbelief. His face was covered in white dust from the fallen plaster the blast tore out of the ceiling, leaving a hole the size of the Grand Canyon above him. Our eyes met as we both suddenly thought of the same thing: "Oh shit!!!" we yelled, and started gathering all the weapons as fast as possible, before the police arrived and arrested somebody for firing off a shot inside the city limits.
Within a couple of minutes we had bagged everything up and started making our way out into the backyard to find a hiding place for the guns. We put everything inside a small brick shed where he kept his barbecue supplies. Safely hidden behind the charcoal briquets.
Still waiting to hear the sound of sirens coming our way, we decided to peel out of there and head down to the nearest bar to play some pool. Pretty cavalier, I know, leaving all the women and children to face the law if they came, but my friend was right to believe that with his reputation, as soon as the cops saw his face they would decide he was guilty. If all they saw were some women and children denying everything, they were more likely to believe them.
The police never did show up. We played a few rounds of pool and later went home, and marveled at how we started the evening with a bang!

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