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A Badge and a Gun

This is but a sample of this story.  The complete version is available in my print collection Man Against the Future.  From there, you can order signed copies, or buy it for the Kindle or the Nook.

It was Timmy Johnson’s eighth birthday today and his badge and gun would be arriving by mail some time this afternoon. Everyone received a license to detain or kill evil-doers on their eighth birthday. Eight years old is what they called “an age of responsibility.” It was supposed to keep everyone honest. That’s what they said anyway. When they passed the legislation, those in favor of it asked their constituents, “Who in their right mind would commit a crime if they knew that every citizen around them over the age of eight was carrying a loaded firearm and duly obligated to dispense justice?”

To their credit, the majority of Americans held it in their hearts that this was both foolish and stupid. Sadly though, the majority of their elected officials were in support of the Mandatory Firearms Protection Act of 2081. The majority of Congressmen received money from their campaigns from the National Rifle Association. The National Rifle Association was a group of people, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of them, who got together as often as they could to shoot guns and talk about how great it was to shoot guns and to talk about how sorry they would make anyone who wanted them to stop shooting guns or take them away.

They were gun-crazy.

So, because of this minority of gun-crazed individuals with deep pockets, little Timmy Johnson would be receiving his badge and gun that very day.

Timmy couldn’t wait. Although he couldn’t wait, his mother, Helen, could. She wasn’t very enthusiastic about all of this. She was one of those Americans that thought it was both stupid and foolish to give anyone a gun, let alone an eight-year-old child. She didn’t like guns at all, even hers. She hid her pistol in her nightstand drawer, unloaded and in its holster, as often as she could. She did this despite the fact it was illegal.

Not carrying your Government Issue firearm and badge was an offense punishable by a one thousand dollar fine and up to ten years in jail.

Displaying a reckless disregard for the law, Helen cooked a large, hot breakfast for her family without the aid and comfort of her gun. As her husband arrived at the table with his morning paper she was laying out this feast of pancakes and eggs and hash browns and bacon and French toast and milk and orange juice and coffee. Fred Johnson had stopped arguing with his wife about the bad example she set, vis-à-vis her gun. He’d given up threatening to report her a long time ago.

Sitting down with a sigh, he folded his newspaper around to the third page. “War, war, war. That’s all they seem to print these days and I’m tired of reading about it…”

“Well, you know dear,” Helen offered after she set down a skillet of crispy bacon, “that’s what’s going on in the world.”

“Mm-hmm…” He ignored her and continued reading between bites of breakfast and gulps of coffee.

The next to sit down at the table was Billy, Timmy’s older brother. Both he and his father were wearing their pistols in leather shoulder holsters. Billy had received his gun in the mail four years prior on his eighth birthday. He still had four more years until he could get behind the wheel of an automobile.

“Morning, Mom. Morning, Pop.”

“Good morning, Billy,” his mother echoed.

Fred merely nodded, then added, “Hmmm…”

“Billy, be sure to say Happy Birthday to your brother. He’s terrified you’ll forget.”

Exasperated, Billy rolled his eyes. “Mo-o-o-m… How could I forget? It’s all he’s been jawin’ about for the last three months.”

“I know, I know. But I’m your mother, dear. I worry about things like that. And I worry sometimes that you aren’t good enough to your brother.”

“He’s lucky I ain’t shot ‘im.”

Helen dropped a bowl of pancake batter on the floor, her face instantly streaming tears of appalled shock. These words out of her eldest sons mouth cut her deeply. “William Leroy Johnson, don’t you dare say something like that. You promised me you’d never say such things.”

“But, I got a right to, if’n…”

Fred interceded, cutting Billy off, “William. Listen to your mother. I’ve had plenty of reasons to shoot you, but have I?”

Red with shame and staring at his plate of hash browns, Billy allowed only two words to squeak out: “No, Dad.”

“That’s right. It’s because I’m your father and I love you. And you should love your brother the same way.”

“I know, I know…”

“I don’t want to hear anymore about shooting your brother again. How can I enjoy my paper if you keep scaring your mother half to death?”

The complete version is available in my print collection Man Against the Future.  From there, you can order signed copies, or buy it for the Kindle or the Nook.

It can also be read in the book God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut. It is available digitally and in print.


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