by Geremy Bridgeforth
First place, Fiction, Arlington County Detention Facility/Heard/OAR Writing Contest, October 2023
Late in the 1940’s there was a gun store on the corner of Woodshire and Consiter Lane located in southern Pennsylvania. This particular gun store specialized in old school guns and, to be sold alongside those old school guns, old school bullets as well. October 15, 1948, the owner of the gun store misplaces a particular twelve pack of bullets. Mr. Wallmack searches the whole store in search of his missing pack of twelve bullets, but they were nowhere to be found.
Unknowingly, while moving a very heavy set of 9mm pistols from the top shelf of his gun cabinet he set the missing twelve pack of bullets down on that gun shelf which was fifteen feet full in height, Mr. Wallmack never thought to look for the missing pack of bullets where he accidentally lost them. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and these months were stretched out considerably to become years. Over the next 73 years, that twelve pack of bullets faded into memory as pack after pack after pack after pack after pack of bullets were sold. This particular pack of twelve did not because no one knew it still sat on top of that fifteen-foot gun case collecting dust all those many years.
August 28, 2023, was the date that tiny dusty pack of bullets finally decided to move.
“I can’t!! I just can’t do this anymore!!!” said one of the bullets in the twelve pack. Suddenly the lost twelve pack of bullets stood up right and opened its casing which allowed one of the bullets to move, jolting out.
“What do you mean you can’t do this anymore?” asked one of the other bullets.
“Ugh, finally out of that dusty old box,” said the bullet that jumped out of its casing. “What I meant was I can’t just sit around in that dusty old box for another moment. “It is completely worn out and it’s starting to stink!” exclaimed the bullet that jumped from its casing.
“Dodge, have a little more faith someone will buy us, you will see,” said another bullet within the pack of now eleven bullets.
“Buy us?” said Dodge as he looked over the side of the gun cabinet. “No one even knows we are alive up here,” yelled Dodge as the other bullets shushed him to keep the noise down. “Plus it has been over 70 years. This store doesn’t even sell the type of gun that we are used for anymore, anyway, so I doubt that we will be sold any time soon,” exclaimed Dodge. “You guys do what you want but my time of sitting in a box waiting to be sold is over. I have dreams and one of those dreams is to be fired from an automatic weapon,” said Dodge as all the other bullets gasped.
“You can’t leave! If you do then we will never be sold,” said one of the bullets inside the case.
“She’s right. Nobody is going to buy a twelve pack with one missing. Who is gonna buy an eleven pack of bullets?” exclaimed another bullet that was inside the casing.
All the other bullets nodded their heads in agreement. Dodge paused for a moment, he thought really hard and very clearly about the decision he was about to make, then he lifted his head and spoke.
“You know what guys? I would rather take my chances out in the world trying to find a new purpose than to sit here and wait for one to come to me. If you are comfortable with your lives on top of this gun cabinet for the next 70 years, then be my guest, but I am going and there is nothing you can do to stop me,” announced Dodge.
Every bullet that was left of that twelve pack felt their hearts go cold as Dodge climbed down from the gun cabinet onto the hard marble floor and right out the front door. Meanwhile, back on top of the cabinet, the remaining bullets were still convinced that someone would discover their whereabouts on top of the old gun cabinet and buy them.
“At last, my first touch of freedom,” said Dodge as he walked gracefully out of the front door at the gun store and as the sunlight touched his face, he makes a childlike smirk as if he realizes there is just enough milk left for one more bowl of cereal.
As Dodge finishes embracing his first touch of freedom, he starts to walk from the doors at the gun shop and into the store’s parking lot. Dodge looks around at all the cars that were parked there.
“Mmmmmm” he wondered. “What are these things? They can’t be guns…could they?” Dodge asked himself.
Just then the ground begins to rumble as a large pair of size nine shoes marched towards him. Dodge quickly jumped from out of the path of the shoes.
“Whoa! Watch where you are going buddy! Can’t you see I am trying to walk here?” shouted Dodge angrily.
Dodge picked himself up off the ground, wiped himself off and continued on. “So, let’s see…new purpose…new purpose. What is my new purpose?” Dodge asked himself.
Suddenly the ground began to rumble again but this time there were dozens of pairs of shoes marching towards him in a frenzy. Dodge quickly ran towards one of the cars that was parked in the store parking lot and hid behind one of its tires. A few seconds passed and the stampede of shoes had finally moved on.
“What the hell’s going on? Is there some kind of gun sale at the store I don’t know about?” asked Dodge to himself. “I have never seen so many people so eager to buy guns,” exclaimed Dodge.
Dodge leapt from behind the tire, but as soon as he did, he had an idea. “I got it! My purpose…it’s so clear to me now,” said Dodge out loud. “My new purpose, the meaning behind life…the reason God manufactured me on this earth is because I am to find the type of gun that I was manufactured for and get fired from it,” announced Dodge. “Ahh my life has meaning again,” said Dodge as he fell out and lay flat on the parking lot ground.
Dodge laid there for a few moments taking in his newfound purpose. Then suddenly a seagull swooped down and took Dodge into its mouth and flew off into the distance.
“Great God speed! What the hell,” exclaimed Dodge as he desperately tried to escape the clutches of the seagull. “Hey I am not a tuna! Do I look like a salmon to you? Release me at once you airborne rodent as I will make quick work of you,” exclaimed Dodge as he desperately tried to punch and gnaw his way from the belly of the beast.
“Alright, I see how it’s gonna be! I see I gotta get rough with ya,” said Dodge as the seagull swallowed Dodge whole.
At that moment, Dodge let off an array of punches, kicks and insults in an attempt to hurt the seagull. After moments of this repeated action, the seagull finally gave up and in midflight the seagull upchucked Dodge along with its afternoon meal it had minutes before it grabbed Dodge from that parking lot floor.
Dodge is then hurled down towards the ground and lands directly in a trash can moments after a huge pile of sludge, that also descended from the seagull’s belly, dropped onto Dodge’s head. As Dodge lay soaked in vomit, he thought to himself, “Welp, I know I am on the right path, because that could have gone a lot worse. Now where do I go from here,” thought Dodge as he picked himself up and climbed out of the trash can.
As he did, he looked up and saw a billboard that read Welcome to Texas!! Dodge’s eyes widened and with a strong gulp he uttered the words, “Well here goes nothing. Hello Texas!” Dodge began to walk past the welcome sign and into the state of Texas.
To be continued …