Kurt was always a brooder; that's how I remember him six years ago.  But without alcohol and possessing a firearm I imagine he'd still be alive today.  Suicide is 80% accessibility.  If my sister hadn't seen those pills laying around she wouldn't have tried the whole bottle.  If Kurt had just stumbled in drunk (after being publicly humiliated by a girl he liked) and simply passed out, things would've been fine.  But no.  There was his father's gun.  And his favorite Corrosion of Conformity album.  And his suicide note.

Always the father's gun.

My friend Bob got trashed one evening and found his father's gun.  Dead four years now.  Or like that fucking nut who lived out in the woods and drank and ended up shooting my cousin to death.  I kept the news clipping of her death, like our mutual friend keeps a clipping of Kurt's obituary from the weekly column.

The "firewater" thing runs in my family.  Dad has it.  I imagine I do too, but I avoid alcohol on principle.  I'd probably have done myself in a long time ago were I provided immediate access to a gun and whiskey.  Highly probable then, but not now.

I miss eating with Kurt at the Waffle House.  I miss his trademark scowl and his deep booming voice and his too-rare and vigorous laughter.  I miss his regular greeting to my sister, who is a striking and charming woman:

She: <all bubbly and singsong> "Hi Kuuuurt."
He:  "Fuck you, Holly."

Guns and alcohol don't mix.

"Okay, you boozers, it is closing time and we have a special deal for y'all. For anyone who hands me their car keys and agrees to walk home, and I know most of you assholes live within three blocks of here, I will give you a loaded handgun to protect yourselves against harlots and thieves."

"That's a good deal, Sam! Here's the keys to my Toyota."

"Very nice choice, George. Any other takers?"

"Take the keys to my Dodge. You got any machine guns?"

"Fuck you, Tony. Since you're an idiot, I'll give you the .45 with the ivory handle. Anyone else?"

The patrons of Sam's bar began lining up, giving Sam the keys to their vehicles and accepting a loaded handgun in return. This was going to be the smartest idea Sam ever had. None of the drunken maniacs on the road tonight would be coming from his place. Businessmen and soccer moms would be safe from the creeping evil that disturbs their zombie-like existences.

"Okay, the bar is closed people, take your guns and get the fuck out of here."

"See you tomorrow, Sammy!"

"Yeah, tell your wife she still owes me for keeping you out of the house every night."

"She loves you for it, Sammy!"


It was 2:43 on the digital clock behind Sam, who wasn't watching the clock since he was having anal intercourse with one of the cooks from the Chinese restaurant next door, when the first shot was fired. Sam carefully withdrew and went to the window while the Chinese cook fell onto the floor and wept.

"Seems trouble is brewing," Sam told himself. "Maybe I should go see what is going on out there."

Three figures were gathered in the dark, standing behind a dark blue pickup truck. They were arguing with a combination of anger and drunken warbling. A third man was lying on the ground in a pool of blood, the victim of the shooting Sam had heard from inside the bar.

"What's going on here?" Sam asked them.

"Tommy couldn't remember where he left his keys and the son of a bitch was our designated driver tonight."

"I took his keys inside, gave him a .357 Magnum for them. What, are you people stupid?"

"Oh, yeah, Chip! Sammy took everyone's keys. Remember? That's why we got these nice pieces now."

"Fuck you, Bruce," snapped Chip, who then fired his gun into Bruce's crotch. "How's that feel, asshole?"

"Okay, that's it, give me back my guns. The promotion is cancelled and I am calling the police."

"No cops." Chip pointed his pistol at Sam's crotch and muttered, "Dare you to, dare you to," over and over.


And now, a poem...

I know a man
Fills his gas
When the tank shows halfway
Helps him feel better
Spend less more often
He tells me over beers
He sleeps better this way

Times are changing
Some roads longer
Some roads diverge
Others come together
There never was a choice
There never was an option
All we could do was merge

Can you hear it calling
The breath of the wind
The lesson of uncertainty
Icy calls the voice
Come together and not apart
Destroy what is not ours
Rise again in diversity

It was never meant to last
This myth made of stories
Glorifications of a bloody past
Honor lost amongst graves
Truth lost amongst lies
We know what we feel within us
Our time has not yet passed

Rise from every corner
Stand up at every crossroads
Tear down what they are building
Build up the temple once more
It will only take three days
No more and no less
This is what you leave your children

Sense the relevance.


In the parable of the prodigal son, we hear the story of a man with two sons. The first stays at home like a momma's boy and works in the fields and kisses his father's ass. The second son goes off into the world on his own to stake his own claim and begin his own life. He makes some tragic mistakes, loses all his money and starts eating out of a pig trough just to stay alive. When the second son comes home, his father kills a severely overweight cow and they have a big party to celebrate. The first son protests, because his father never threw any kind of party for him and he stayed home like a sissy and did everything his father told him to do. His father laughs and tells the first son that he's pretty much had a free ride through life so stop bitching. His other son has balls, grit and determination. He has returned and it is time to celebrate.


Sam was barricaded inside his bar, on hold with the local police department, which had apparently been bombarded with calls regarding random shootings all over the Rust River section of town. Sam's bar happened to be called the Rust River Saloon. There was a connection.

After ten minutes, a very tired sounding female 911 operator took Sam's call. "Police department. How can I help you this evening?"

"I'm the one who handed out the free guns. I just wanted them to stop driving drunk. It seemed like a good idea. Many of them were hunting enthusiasts and veterans. I figured they had some sense about them."

"Let me get the supervisor, sir. We've had quite a few shootings in the Rust River section of town and I see that is where you are calling for. How do you feel about going to prison as an accessory to murder?"


Sam was rushed through the justice system and found himself someplace like Rikers Island. He did not feel comfortable there. There were a disproportionate number of African Americans being improperly incarcerated at this facility. Since most of them had been framed for crimes committed by white people, they didn't like hearing that Sam once ran a redneck bar.

There were a total of sixteen murders on the night of Sam's keys for guns program, which was not continued by the next owner of his saloon, a smarter man in his late 60s who was retired from a successful marketing scam business he operated for more than three decades. Jonas would overcharge his patrons, fail to bring them their change, and have his half-naked waitresses lift most men's wallets as they tried to leave at the end of the night. One night he blew a man away with a shotgun in the middle of the bar. They had argued for weeks about the man's incessant need to play the same Bob Seger song every night at least three times.

The name of the song was "Hollywood Nights." No charges were ever filed against the owner, but an African American male between the ages of 17 and 25 was seen outside the bar shortly after the shooting and did serious time. Sam wants people to visit him in prison. He just wants someone to talk to. He got kind of used to it, having been a bartender for ten years.

The beer you spend your very last dollar on will always taste much better than the one you buy with your wallet full. This is truth.

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