When you've dealt with the general public as long as I have, the one true inevitable fact of life is - you never know what will walk through the door.
It was midday yesterday when the door buzzer went off. I hit the lock release and he walked inside and immediately said, "I don't feel well."
He stumbled to a chair. I don't know the man well. I knew he was a state school teacher, industrial arts; what we used to call a 'shop teacher.' The man was extremely overweight. Little streams of sweat ran down his face, breath labored. At first I thought the old boy was in the early stages of a heart attack. I was still a few feet away when he began his rant at a pace not unlike a drunk writer lost in the troughs of a stream of consciousness work out.
He began, breathlessly, "Stephen I hate the *&^%^@#*ckers you know what I'm saying the da*n school board, I'm under doctor supervision and I had a nervous breakdown last week I'm all right really and but I need to kill one of them really man it's okay don't look so serious I swear man but I need to shoot someone."
Then, he took the handgun from under and behind his sweaty tee-shirt. He held it in both hands as if it were just a movie prop; he looked straight ahead, his voice a monotone of continuous bather. I held very still and slowly eased my hand back and hooked my thumb on my carry piece. I just did not know his intentions. I did not like this situation.
I asked, "Bubba, do you need a glass of water?" As I eased to my right. He took a deep breath, "Ah, sure. I'm fine, I just need to sit here a while." I could not take my eyes off the gun. It was a piece of crap Smith, the Sigma series, awful trigger system. Junk. Still, I could not help but notice the magazine was settled. Loaded, who knows. I just took it for granted. Booger hook was in place.
I took another soft step towards him, forgetting he'd asked for water. He continued, "They're trying to drive me crazy that stupid school board, sonsabitches (excuse the foul language) and I'm under doctors orders and I'm on medication and I need help and my life is awful but I'm okay trust me, Stephen, it's no ones fault but mine for allowing them to bring this down on me." (or words to that effect) Sweat continued to pour and he continued to caress the handgun and I'm thinking, "What the heck is he about to do, shoot me, or himself." Like that.
I did not like this situation. I glanced outside hoping beyond hope other customers didn't choose this moment to walk inside. I took another big step and settled in the chair, but one, from him. I asked, "Bubba, would you like me to look over the handgun?" No reaction. I still had the heel of my hand rested on the stock of my Glock. Holding his piece of crap Smith in both hands he used the back of both to wipe away sweat, his face was red.
Me, "Hey, let me see your gun." I reached. Him, "Oh, ah, yeah, well I was just thinking this morning....you know, ah, well, hey you know man I'm fine, really....oh God man I'm fine....doctor said I just need rest maybe retire man, you know." He still held that damn gun, tight. I shifted my weight a bit to my right, calculated my odds.
Thirty years I've dealt with nut cases like him.
That isn't nice, is it, to call a man you barely know a nut case....no it isn't. I don't live his life, haven't any idea the mental pain he deals with on a daily basis. It was obvious this poor gentleman was under some extreme stress. He was very overweight and I'm sure that fact didn't help his fragile mindset, and if you add the stress of his job, the children he dealt with everyday, and that socialist school board, well, crazy is truly understandable.
I once had a gentleman walk into my shop, dressed to the nines in a thousand dollar suit with Italian loafers and ask me if it would be okay if his mommy and daddy (his words, exact) could come inside and wait while I helped him. Mommy and daddy, really. I kid you not. I said, "Sure, no problem." He walked back out and I never saw him again. Go figure.
Or, the time a nice old man came and asked if I'd care to help him draft a plan for suicide in order to spare the pain of his children and grandchildren finding his body in a pool of blood. Wanted to know if canvas or plastic laid on his bed would be sufficient to contain the splatter of the head shot, and please, come to the house afterwards and gather his firearms and sell them for his family.
Then, there was the young man, high on God knows what, that stood in my waiting room and detailed his afternoons fun. He gave me a blow by blow of how he planned to beat his young wife; them married less than six months. Used his hands for emphasis. He looked me in the eyes and said he was 'going to' bite her nipples off, kick her in her neither regions, bite her buttocks. I reached to hold him, tried to grab his shirt while I took the phone in my other hand and he did a rabbit on me. Slammed my door so hard he almost shattered the glass. Last time I saw him he was on a hard run across the park. I gave the officer, when he arrived twenty minutes later, a detailed description. Never heard another word....
Many nights I arrive home and stand for a second and thank the Good Lord that I'm normal.
So, I ask the poor man again, "The gun, Bubba, what's the deal?"
Silence, peaceful silence as he takes in the handgun, then, "Oh, ah, whew, I don't feel good, Stephen, but, I, ah wanted to know if you'd like to buy it."
Quickly I said, "No, but let me hold it." He laid the weapon on the chair between us and I eased my hand over and took it. I slipped the magazine out, racked the slide. Empty. I could feel the tension slip from my muscles. Relief.
He in his little worried world, kept the words flowing, "I'm fine, doctors orders, and I hate the school system."
I said, "Are you able to retire?"
He looked over at me. "Yes. why?"
He walked out a few minutes later. God bless him.