An Old Friend
Yet we often fail to build muscle memory to make the weapon safely stowed again under stress. So I worked at drawing the weapon, squeezing off two shots, snicking on the thumb safety and reholstering.
At the range, I was happy to bump into an old friend who runs a pharmacy on the seedy side of town where I used to work. On a cold December afternoon few years back, Roy (not his real name) was dispensing meds when an armed teen burst into the store with a bandanna over his face.
The teen demanded money, and the cashier emptied the till for him. The bandit pocketed the cash while waving his chrome Lorcin wildly. When the teen began to exit the store, he swung the pistol towards the cashier who was cowering behind the counter. "Die bitch!" were his last words.
Roy shot him center of mass with a .357 revolver. The slug blew apart the masked teen's aorta, and shattered his spine. The criminal managed to crawl outside the pharmacy to bleed out and die in the parking lot. The shooting was declared justified, and Roy was never charged.
The community that Roy's drug store was nestled in split into two factions, one which accused him of murder, the other ambivalent and uncaring. Little did it matter that many of those people obtained medications for their family on a tab from Roy. He became ostracised in the community he supported, a community Walgreens would never invest in.
I asked Roy how he was doing. He said fine. I told him it was good to see him shooting again. Roy said he never stopped. He just continued to shoot privately. He related that he had lost some sleep for a couple of years, and he still thinks about the shooting every time the bell on his drug store door jingles. He still watches customer's hands closely, but business is good again, and the threats of retaliation have stopped. He has no regrets, although he still occasionally asks himself "What if....."
Thankfully, Roy does not carry the burden of "If only I had a gun......."