The Older, newly arranged. Brandon Joyce.


I remember it well, son. Yep, Dick Davis and I were driving my Saturn round, IN BROAD MOONLIGHT, with the gas-gauge this much below empty. Now you have to understand that, well, in that grizzly period of the American media circus, day-to-day things that we take for granted like Unleaded Gasoline or plastic Jack-O-Lanterns had become matters of LIFE AND DEATH. The Sniper, MUCH LIKE MISTER DEATH HIMSELF, just did not discriminate between man or woman, black or Italian, Jew or gentle [sic], Michael’s or Seven-Eleven. Cold and faceless as he was, everywhere and nowhere (like Lucifer himself, or God himself), ready to snipe away the life of innocent shoppers, without so much as a manifesto in his wake. So there was no “too careful” in those days. We all understood the danger we were in. We read, and had understood, the Safety Precautions enumerated in the Washington Post. BUT, son, if we stopped getting gas, or buying cans of aerosol snow from Michael’s, the sniper had already won and we were already dead.

Pulling into Amoco- slowly- we had already unfastened our seatbelts and drafted a good, clear, solid plan: I would pump, Rich would pay. When the coast was clear, we mobilized. With my belly to the concrete, slowly, slowly now, I removed the gascap, selected Amoco Regular (we all had to cut corners in those days), and began pumping. So far, no casualties. Poor Dick Davis, though, he was caught out in the openair, executing what they call a “ten-point soldier’s crawl” all the way up to the convenience mart, with a fivespot clutched in his hand. Onlookers- with seemingly little regard for their own lives- just pumped away obliviously, like so much sitting ducks. But just as I finished up pumping and Davis was folded safely on the passengerside floor, the clerk blurts over the intercom “You went over! You just went over! You gonna have to pay the difference.” Dammit! All our precautionary measures had been in vain. If it isn’t one thing, it’s the next.

I sighed and said “that’s okay, Rich. I got it, Rich. I got it. I got it… man.” We exchanged knowing nods, both knowing that, things being as they were, I knew I might not be coming back. I collected some cushion-change and ran again for the mart, dodging the crossfire as best I could. And once through that threshold, I took cover behind a pyramid of quality Frito-Lay products. The clerk did raise some interesting points about our defense strategy. “What’s wrong whichall? You know he gonna shoot yall now!!” Amazing, simply amazing. Such Complacency and Denial in a time of True National Emergency. I nodded solemnly to the cashier- and to my fellow Americans who were just good people trying to buy their gallons of Two-Percent, their pecan logs, and their GPC 2-for-1 Value-Packs. With one look, my fellow patriots understood, and riding out on a wave of collective courage, I rang out “Cover Me!!!” That crazy psycho be damned.

We were off to Michael’s to purchase some stryofoams balls (and some wicker baskets, an etching kit, and maybe a plastercast of the Venus de Milo). We zigzagged through the parking lot in open defiance; refusing, for the most part, to cower. Real American Heroes, showing grace under fire. We would show that psychotic maniac- WHOEVER HE WAS- that WE WERE NOT GOING TO LIVE OUR LIVES IN FEAR.


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