Daydreams of: Survivors and Relics

The old man walked through the aisles of the gun show.  His steps were slowed from the assault of old age and old wounds.  People behind him would grunt their displeasure before rushing through an opening when it presented itself.  Ignoring the low protests, the old man grimly continued forward.

He limped past the pistols and revolvers; found an easier path by the shotguns; and struggled his way through the crowd gathered around the modern sporting rifles.  The old man finally stopped when he came upon a row of old rifles leaning in a soiled wooden display rack.  His slim, weathered hand pulled out one of the rifles.  It felt heavier than he remembered.  His right hand instinctively went to pull back on the bolt-action, but was stopped by the unyielding cable tie wrapped tight just behind the safety and woven through the trigger guard.

Thoughts flashed back to Stalingrad in ’42.  How at the age of eighteen he fought against the Nazis in their assault of the city.  Memories of shelling, screaming, explosions, and the low moaning of injured soldiers and civilians flooded his mind bringing along with it the phantom smells of sweat, sulfur, fire, and copper.

A hand stretching out in front of him snapped him back to awareness.

“Ninety bucks?”  Cried out a young man wearing a digital camo tank top and buzz cut.  “Why so little?”

“Because they’re cheap!”  Spat the young man’s friend.  “They are ancient, heavy, bolt-action pieces of junk that can only hold five rounds.  They’re no match for a modern AR.  Forget them.”

The young man looked at them with disdain.  “Yeah.   Cheap pieces of crap.  Let’s go.”

The old man raised his hand as the boys left.

“Can I help you?”  The middle-aged vendor asked.

“I’d like to buy this Mosin-Nagant.”  The old man replied.

The vendor glanced over at the young men ogling the ARs and said, “For you,  Sixty.”

Painfully created for the Trifecta Challenge.

32 thoughts on “Daydreams of: Survivors and Relics

  1. sometimes it is the older, classic stuff that is better.

    Interesting tale. I could see the old man pushing his way through the crowds…he would have been really old too if this piece is set in the present. Perhaps even too old to be wandering through a gun show?

    • He’d be roughly 88 years old if he was 18 in 1942. There are still quite a few people that age drivning and moving around here in Florida. With so much free time on their hands, they often got to fairs and shows just to do something. Don’t let their age fool you.

  2. Nice story. We have a lot of able-bodied older people in Arizona, too, so the age didn’t phase me. I like that the vendor gave him a deal, rather than charging him the full $90.

  3. I can picture my grandfather in this story. He attends all the old engine shows, and even though he is in his 80’s he knows every thing about the value and history of the engines. I liked this very much.

  4. Very well done – great use of “cheap,” here – not just in the direct sense, but also in implication. That is, by devaluing the rifle, the younger men devalue the old man’s experience. More than a little social commentary here.

  5. Great story – I love how cheap the young men show themselves to be, so focused on ‘the latest and greatest’ technology and completely ignoring the rich history behind the older gun. It’s interesting how poorly the old gun does in contrasts with the new ones, but how poorly the young bucks show when compared to the old man. favourite line – “His steps were slowed from the assault of old age and old wounds”

  6. Thank you for linking up to Trifecta this week. This is an incredible story. You had me with the leaning guns–I saw them perfectly in my mind, and I wanted to see what the old man saw in them. I was worried we were going to be subjected to some crazy, unbelievable story line, but instead you’ve given us an amazing tale that I think a lot of us can relate to in some way. Nice job.

  7. Oh my God. I love several things about this. First, I love the language. Phrases like “the assault of old age and old wounds” (keeping age and injury separate) and “at the edge of 18” (so young) make the piece so visceral. Second, I like the realism. I’ve never been to a gunshow until right now, just this minute. The old man’s memories of a gun that pretty well saved his life are SO clear, so sharp. Third and finally, the vendor. I loved the vendor. He turns the whole ‘cheap’ thing on its head, making the kids cheap, the guns quite valuable, and the discount a gesture of honor, like he just knows.

  8. I really enjoyed your story. I’m sorry I am just now getting around to reading it. It was quite powerful and emotional. Well done!

  9. This is so different than any of the prompt pieces I’ve read and different here is so very good. The simple descriptions you chose to illustrate the pain of age and old memories paint a lump inducing picture.

  10. Congratulations on the win this week! Your story was one of my favorites. The story itself is not one that I can relate to, but your writing style and character(s) made me feel very drawn to it, and I felt warmly comforted by the end, despite its melancholy undertones.

  11. Pingback: Looking back and looking forward. | Thoughts, Ramblings, and Daydreams

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s