I stopped by the tiny post office and picked up a box. I copied the mailing address from my pocket and tossed the old phone inside, turned on. I sealed the box, slapped the label on, and got in line to pay for the postage.
I smiled as I left the building. If someone wanted to track my cell phone now they could trace it as it traveled across the country to a vendor that bought used phones. I didn’t want to leave any obvious trails of where I was heading.
I had to engage the four-wheel drive on the truck as I entered the dirt road where a sign was posted Laremy Shooting Range. I was nervous as I got out. I envisioned crazy gun toting burley men with few teeth popping out to greet me. I was ashamed at the stereotype I’d conjured up when a soft spoken, casually dressed man called “Hello.”
“Hi, there,” I replied as I took his offered hand. “The sporting goods store referred me here,” I volunteered as I flashed their business card.
“Johnson’s a good guy,” he answered when he saw the card. “We get a lot of referrals from him.”
“I’m afraid I don’t know much about shooting these,” I said as I pulled the guns out.
“That’s what I’m here for,” the man replied. “I’m Charles Laremy, the owner of the range,” he added.
“Lisa White,” I said instantly. “Could you give me a couple of pointers on how to fire them?”
“We’ve got a class for beginners-” he started but I cut him off.
“I’d love to do that but I’m only in town for today. I’m just passing through on my way home. Is there anything you could show me now?” I hesitated, wondering if I sounded suspicious.
Apparently, he saw nothing amiss because he smiled and said, “Sure, we get a lot of busy shooters here. I can show you some basics and then you can take a class maybe when you get back home.”
“Yes, that’s what I was planning to do eventually,” I replied. “I bought the guns thinking I’d feel safer after the break-in but I’m finding I’m even more nervous since I’m doubting my ability to actually use them.” He seemed to buy my cover story as he shook his head in response.
“We get a lot of beginners in the same situation. You’ll feel a lot better after today.” He motioned me to follow him, “Let’s take a look at them first. They aren’t new, are they?”
I nodded, my heartbeat ratcheting upward, “No, they’re my father’s. I borrowed them. I’m not sure what kind of shape they’re in.”
He picked up the rifle and looked it over, “This could use a good cleaning.” He laid it back down and picked up the handgun, “This one looks to be in decent shape.”
He cleaned both guns meticulously to my untrained eyes and then started giving me basic instructions in shooting. I nodded at each of his statements but my pulse began to beat rapidly with nervousness. Soon, he’d ask me to actually fire one of the weapons.
“Let’s start with the handgun first,” he said, finally.
I listened to his last minute instructions then put on the giant ear protection that looked like oversized ear muffs. I moved my body and hands as he indicated. The gun felt like a brick in my hand. He’d cautioned me about keeping a firm grip and not letting my arm grow weak. If I didn’t, it was likely I’d jam the the gun.
For a split second, I thought about how the movies portrayed shooting a gun. The character could just pick it up as if it weighed no more than a phone and lightly pull the trigger, arm flailing the entire time. The gun would never jam.
I took a deep breath, full of nerves. I pulled the firm trigger back and the gun jumped up a little in my hands.
“It’s okay,” Charles reassured me. “Just hold it a little tighter next time. The next pull of the trigger will be much easier.”
I nodded and fired again. He was right. The second time, it didn’t take much effort at all to pull the trigger.
He motioned for me to keep firing. After a moment, I relaxed.
“Not bad for your first time out,” he remarked.
“Did I hit the target?” I asked in disbelief.
He laughed, “No, but we can work on that.”
By the time I left the range and made another stop to buy more ammunition, I was only feeling slightly better about my skills with either gun. I’d hit the targets eventually with both the handgun and the rifle but that was in a calm field with an instructor.
Would my arm grow weak and I forget everything I’d been told and warned if I encountered John Leech? It was another question I couldn’t answer.