by Jonah

(date unknown)

Nathan’s grandfather has a M1 Garand (he’s sitting here telling me how to spell it). His dad wants to buy it back from him. Nathan’s been cleaning his grandfather’s handguns and rifles and in return gets to shoot them. He’s been cleaning an Ithaca .45 auto that’s also a WWII veteran. He says it shoots a tad bit to the left. His dad has finally started reloading all those 9 mm shells he’s been making us collect. Nathan says: “they shoot much better than some made by rookies at the police academy (they would just scoop the powder out, brush the top off, and insert the lead:) ). Needless to say, there were quite a few uncontained explosions at the range. My dad laughed a great deal when telling us that story.”

About a week ago, we went to play Q-Zar, “the world’s favorite laser game,” according to its advertisements. Nathan, Stephanie, and I met some other people down there and waited while watching Nathan play graphically violent arcade games until they called us into the briefing chamber. There we divided into two teams, red (actually orange) and green. The ref (or employee, whatever) came in and picked me, since it was my first time, as an example of how to put on the vests. They’re kind of a breast plate and back piece connected with straps and shoulder pad things on top with a gun attached by a telephone cord type wire. After the briefing, we entered the vest place, where everyone else put on vests, and then on to the battle room. It was a maze-like room, foggy, and with loud music playing. We all went to our appropriate energizing stations, and then the game began. It was great, sneaking around corners, blasting away at the enemy. You could see the lasers as they shot through the fog. That helped with aiming. When you get shot, a thing on the breast plate (mine was more on my tummy) vibrates. I was running here and there for the first minute or so until I remembered the first rule — NO RUNNING.

Whenever you get shot (or tagged, as they benignly call it), the gun talks to you, saying, “Defense shield active… active… warning… warning…” and you have to wait for six seconds before you can fire again. I shot the green headquarters twice.

During a lull in the game, the ref that had given us the briefing came up and told me he thought I was doing pretty well fo:r my first time and gave me some pointers. “Protect your back. And don’t tell anyone I told you this, but if you unsling you gun, you’ll have a better range of motion.”

After 15 minutes, though it seemed like a lot longer, it was all over and we returned to our energizing stations, as per the instructions our guns gave us, for our points to be recorded. Mine didn’t work right, so the ref came over to try to help. Finally, we went out, and I got my score sheet from the desk. The ref came over to where we were comparing cards. “What’d you do?” he asked. “Not bad for your first time.”

As we were leaving, he came over again and handed me a couple of coupons for 2 dollars off my next game.
“Come back,” he said.

On the way home, Nathan and Stephanie started teasing me. “He likes you,” Nathan taunted. “You probably could have got in free if you gave him your phone number.”

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