Posted in flash fiction

The flamingo

As he pulled into the driveway, beads of sweat began to run down the side of his face. His stomach knotted. It was right there, in front of his house, was the upside down flamingo. They knew. They knew everything.

He had been so careful. He never used his real name. All the money was offshore. He never used the same burner phone twice. Every communication went through at least a dozen servers all over the world, each with different encryptions. Long hair, crewcut, mustache, goatee, clean shaven – he changed his look every month.

How did they know? How did they find out? How did they find out where he lived?

It didn’t matter. His whole world just turned upside down. He just kept on driving. He couldn’t go home. He couldn’t call his family. Or a friend.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a few folder bills. Thirty-seven dollars. He wouldn’t get far with that. But he couldn’t go to the ATM. He couldn’t cash a check. He dared not use a credit card. If he drove his car, some camera would pick up his license plate. He just had to keep moving. He had to keep out of sight.

There was only one option. He jabbed at the unused burner phone to get a taxi. He had just enough for a ride to the zoo. Flashing a fake membership card, he went from the turnstile right to the flamingo pond. Leaning on the rail, watching the wary birds, a quiet voice said, “That didn’t take long.”

“What do you want? Just leave my family alone.”

“You know what we want.”

He took the popcorn box, not surprised at how heavy it felt. It was the usual Glock. The clip was full, but he would only need one shot. He slowly walked towards the exit.

He vowed this would be the last time.

Just like last time.

Posted in listening, questions

How many guns do you need?


Not too long ago I was wondering, “Who has a gun?” Since then, one headline caught my attention: “Only 3% of Americans own half of the nations guns.”

On the morning of the recent Las Vegas mass shooting, I was on my way to a conference with two colleagues. As we glanced at the TV in a rest stop restaurant area, the reported number of fatalities and injuries continued to rise. Our conversation over lunch turned to guns.

One friend began talking about his concealed carry permit, and the gun he preferred when carrying. He went on to describe some of his handguns and rifles. Some had been customized. Some were special orders. Some had been hand-me-downs. Some were for hunting. Some were for self-protection.

Finally I asked, “How many guns do you have?” Looking up, he mentally counted through his own personal inventory. I don’t remember the exact number he mentioned, but it was more than ten.

Now I’m wondering, “Why does a person need so many guns?” I understand the need for different kinds of guns for different kinds of shooting or hunting. I’m sure there are new models and new technology, as well as old favorites and classic designs. It just never occurred to me that someone would have that many.

The subtitle to the previous headline read, “7.7 million Americans own between 8 and 140 firearms.” Apparently, “that many” isn’t that many when it come to guns. The Las Vegas shooter Steve Paddock owned 47 guns.

The guys I’ve gone out shooting with all own a variety of guns. Each time I’ve gone out, they’ve brought a selection for me to try. They’re always eager to demonstrate their collection. “Here, try this one.” “How did that one feel?” “You’ll like this one.” “This is what I carry.”

I still have a lot to learn about guns, ammunition and shooting. My dad had a couple of rifles. When he was growing up, you had have a gun and you had to know how to shoot. If you wanted to eat. He never taught me anything about them. He never took me hunting with the beagle. But I know he was pretty good. They always had food on the table.

Posted in Ask the pastor, Life

Who’s got a gun?

Photo by Sofia Sforza on Unsplash

Eight, nine, maybe ten years ago, I was talking with a few of our ushers at the rear of the church, probably about 10 minutes before the beginning of a worship service. I’m not sure why, but the discussion was about handguns. Maybe they had been to the shooting range, or they were planning an outing. When one mentioned a specific gun, Floyd pulled up his pant leg and revealed that exact model in an ankle holster. He said, “You mean, like this one?” At that moment, I realized that on any given Sunday morning, at least one of my worshipers was packing.

Since then, I know that many members have purchased guns and gotten concealed carry permits. How many have that gun on them or in a handbag on a Sunday morning? I have no idea. When we last worshiped in Haiti, I noticed that many of the ushers had a sidearm under their suit coat. Usually a 9mm. Continue reading “Who’s got a gun?”