It was an innocent quick trip to the local supermarket. Two or three items and I would exit the place. I was wrong on so many levels.
My fast dash down a shopping lane was quickly stopped. Passage was blocked by a local who always remembers me from TV news days. My retirement is now just about 21 years in the rear view mirror but many folks seem to think they saw me just last night. Hey, this was always a nice fella. I couldn’t blow him off. There would be no quick exit for me.
“How come ya not working? How come ya not covering the news, all this gun stuff”? I heard the questions but still blinked because we’d chatted about the end of my professional days many times recently. A pause for a quick, polite answer.
“No place for an 80-year-old reporter on TV these days,” I answered with a small smile. My friend-fan looked confused. “Remember our chats about Boston TV news and what happened to veteran reporters?” I asked, hoping it would cue his memory. He still looked confused and then agitated.
“Yeah!”, he finally said, “It sucks! You should still be on the tube. You should be reporting the real news about this gun violence stuff. We could always trust you. These damn kids today, all puffed up and reporting crap!” I nodded but my friend-fan was clearly just getting started with his tirade. I took a deep breath and just looked at him.
“Garry, they are trying to dump our second amendment, dammit! Yeah, and the liberal media is covering it up.”
I so didn’t want to have this conversation. Other shoppers were trying to squeeze by or stopping to listen to the retired reporter dish out stuff on the hot button issue of gun control legislation. I should’ve begged off, saying I needed to move on, that I needed the bathroom or my hearing apps were buzzing. I shoulda, coulda. But I didn’t.
So, I jumped into the verbal fray. Bad Garry.
I eyed my friend, “How many mass shootings do we need? How many schools, churches, supermarkets… places like this need to be targeted with blood baths and innocents? So many children who’ll never get to pursue their dreams…” I paused to catch my breath
My friend-fan said it “They are trying to take away our guns, Garry. Nobody is taking my guns, Jesus-Mary! NOBODY is taking my guns. I gotta AK-15, a revolver and…” He saw the look on my face and continued, “I’m not one of those crazies. I’m OKAY!” His eyes were getting bigger. “I got a camp, a cabin nearby where I can be alone and enjoy myself.”
I let him pause for breath and, carefully, picked up the verbal tennis ball. “Why do amateurs, peace-loving folks need semi-automatic weapons?”
The surrounding crowd was growing. People were hovering. The big news everywhere was now supermarket fodder. Not a good situation even when you think you can score some points for intelligence. That’s just stupid, Garry. Still, my reporter DNA plunged ahead to the dark hole.
I amped up my voice, “Why can’t we have legislation that at least will make it harder for whack jobs to get semi automatic weapons so quickly and so easily? Why not?”
My friend-fan shot back, “Hey, I ain’t no whack job. What are you saying here? You’re a good guy, Garry. You know me! I’m telling you. Things are gonna get worse if they try to take away our guns. Believe me, things are gonna get a helluva lot worse around here!”
That was my cue. I said, “Good talk. Gotta go. Take care of yourself, my friend.”
I scooted to the express check out counter and was out the door in minutes. I wanted no more of the “Guns Are Us” conversation.
Someone saluted me as I double-timed it to the car. What now? Oh, right. I was wearing my NCIS rain jacket.
Grab your gear! Dead vic on the TV.