My first roommates in Las Vegas were two Air Force guys who also happened to be gun aficionados.
I had enough experience with guns. When you walk into the house of my childhood in Mechanicsville the first thing on your left will be a gun cabinet, locked. Long sleek hunting rifles that have killed bucks and ducks greet you, "Hi."
My roommate, Jeff, had a shotgun. I thought it was beautiful. He kept it in the corner of his bedroom hidden behind his always opened bedroom door. One time a drunk man climbed over the wall in our backyard and started throwing rocks and epithets at my window. It petrified me. I ran to Jeff's room in my underwear and told him there was a crazy man in our backyard.
"Well, do you know who he is?" his sleepy but calm face questioned.
"No! The only people I know in this town are you and Vince! He's screaming the word WHORE!" I was 23 years old and from a town that ended in -ville. I was not use to such talk at 2 am in my backyard.
He stood up, completely naked. I was a little startled but remained focused. He reached around his door and pulled the shotgun out and walked calmly to my room. The man was still yelling when Jeff pushed open my window sliding the barrel out into the night.
"Hey, motherfucker," said Jeff.
The man below stopped yelling for a moment, his eyes wide. He was an older man, leathered from the sun with tattoos on his neck. He wore a wifebeater the color of dirty dishwater and cargo jeans.
"Hey yourself," his eyes narrowed again and he stumbled backwards a bit before regaining his composure. This guy was incredibly drunk. Possibly high to say what he said next.
"You think that scares me, bro? Skinny white dude with a gun? Where's Marisol, huh?? You banging my wife??"
I had pulled on a t-shirt and sat on the floor next to Jeff's legs, my knees pulled up to my chest. I didn't even want to breathe.
"Man, you got the wrong house. Get the fuck out of my yard."
Jeff's voice was calm. His finger remained on the trigger. He yawned and cracked his toes that were inches from me.
"Fuck you, man! I know she's there! And I know you're not going to shoot me, pussy! Doubt you know what to do with that---"
A shotgun blast rang through the night. The silence afterward rang in my ears.
"Jeff! Jeff! Jeff!" I stood up in a panic, looked out the window expecting to see the worst thing. I had been in Las Vegas barely a month and would now be involved in a murder trial.
But all I saw when I stood was the man climbing frantically back over the wall, his cargo jeans sliding down showing the band of his Joe Boxers. My eyes wide, I looked at Jeff.
"I just shot it in the air. That same guy was here about 6 months ago," Jeff turned and without looking said with a laugh in his throat, "Meth's a hell of a drug."
The next day we went out to the desert to shoot. I had fallen a little in love with Jeff and his gun. Our house was at the very end of town, literally. Northwest Las Vegas stopped at our neighborhood and turned into vast desert. I would imagine how this use to be the bottom of the ocean, imagined water spilling over the mountains and filling up the valley again, washing us all away like ants under a hose.
We took his truck out far enough so that our house was just a dot, the Stratosphere even farther away, a tall line with a hat on top. It was breezy, the sky was empty of clouds and I was in the desert alone with a man who had a shotgun, who I had only known a week.
"You ever shoot before?" He pulled out a pack of cigarettes in his cargo shorts.
"Well... I mean, yeah. I've shot a gun before but nothing like this," I nodded at the gun resting against his truck so smartly, like it was winking at us.
"This should be fun then. I usually bring something to shoot at but for now we'll just shoot and practice holding it. It's got a hell of a kick so I want to make sure you're ready for that," the cigarette was in his mouth now. I looked up at him, intimidated. I felt like the worst thing I could do was let him down somehow, to not be able to handle his gun. I wanted to impress him.
"Ok. It looks like there's something out there I can aim for anyway. I thought you had put it up before we got here," I said pointing at something in the distance. We couldn't make out what it was, only it's color which appeared to be purple.
"Hmmf," said Jeff, putting a hand over his eyes, squinting to see what it was, "Yeah, I didn't put that up there. I wonder what the fuck it is, I was just here a few days ago, didn't see anything."
We started walking. It was May. The sun was already turning on us. My long hair quickly grew hot on my neck. I stopped to throw it back into a puffy bun. Jeff stopped as I did this, still staring at the horizon.
Used condoms littered our path, making Jeff mutter things under his breath I couldn't hear. I wretched as we passed a dead rabbit, it's entrails spilled out onto a rock. I suddenly thought of rattle snakes and looked helplessly at my bare ankles and flip flops. Shit.
Another thought crossed my mind as we watched some small tumbleweeds blow by. How the hell had I ended up here? How would I have guessed as a girl, dancing in my parents' living room to Wilson Phillips, blue ribbons spinning around my face that I would one day be in the deserts of Nevada shooting a shotgun with a guy who grew up in Oregon? It made me wonder what could possibly happen next.
"Holy shit... What IS this?"
Jeff was ahead of me and my thoughts snapped back to the task at hand. We had reached the mysterious purple thing.It was about three feet tall and maybe six inches around in diameter. It was rubber and it looked like...
"Um. Jeff? That kind of looks like..."
"A penis! I know! I think it's a dildo! What the fuck??!"
We stood there completely in shock. The little girl with the ribbons who use to play My Little Pony and went to Vacation Bible School in the summer, who's favorite song was a tie between "Jesus Loves Me" and "Love in Any Language" had grown up into a woman who now stood in front of a gigantic sex toy made for a giantess.
"How is this... anatomically possible?" I couldn't stop staring. What made it even more disturbing was that scattered around it were surgical gloves.
"I have no idea. Well... I DO have an idea but I think it would be very ungentlemanlike for me to share that with you," he laughed. He noticed the gloves too "What the HELL was going on out here???"
I had never seen anything like this. I had never even seen an actual dildo except once when I was 20 and I got invited to one of those sex toy parties by a girl I worked with in Florida during the summer. But that was Florida. Things like this are to be expected there. But in the middle of a literal wasteland?
"Jeff. I don't even know what to say. People come out to the desert to do these kinds of things? It's so hot, they must have been sweating horribly. The poor girl that had to take this!"
We looked at one another and the absurdity hit us so hard that we couldn't stop laughing for what seemed like minutes.
We ended up having a better target then we could ever have imagined. The slugs either got embedded in the rubber or simply bounced off. The last shot, made my Jeff, blew the head of it off which we thought was a great finale.
Yep. That little girl never would have guessed what she was in for.
This is actually a true story. Yeah. Weird. Thank you to the talented Dafeenah for the prompt "As the little girl danced, her blue ribbons spun around and she..." I hope I kind of did it SOME justice, I know it's not that great. Also I prompted the very wonderful Carrie with "You're a Dear Abby type columnist. Write a question and an answer from one of your readers." Check them out and please consider joining the Indie Ink Challenge.