Doppelgänger

He-Man meets Faker

We all want to believe that we’re special; that there’s no one else on earth like us. You know how disappointed you feel when you realize how common you really are? Well imagine how much more disappointing that must feel for the most powerful man in the universe!

Skeletor: “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, He-Man! It looks like you’re not so unique after all!”
“Meet my latest creation—FAKER!”

Skeletor taunts He-Man as, through a magic, Fakers dons a human head that closely resembles He-Man’s! As the two gladiators skirmish, Skeletor reveals that Faker began as one of Man-in-Arms’ proudest accomplishment–a robotic training dummy imbued with the strength & speed of a true warrior. Skeletor’s minions ambushed a band of heroic warriors during a simulated patrol. Tri-clops made some modifications & then Skeletor put the finishing touches on the simulated life-form by channeling a portion of his own power into the robot. Surely, a warrior that was equal part machine, equal part conjured beast–could combine all the necessary qualities to equal & even surpass the fighting prowess of the most powerful man in the universe! Right?

After a brief struggle that, at times, demonstrated strength & speed from the robot that seemed to equal that of his twin human: He-man proves that things aren’t always as they appear.

In the end, looks are only skin deep. He-man’s true strength comes from his humanity–more specifically, the righteousness of his humane qualities. He-man knows how special he is without needing to be reminded all the time. He-man knows that what powers his strength in combat is the compassion of his heart. He-man is strong because he only chose to rely on that strength when absolutely necessary. And because his motivation is pure, the power of Greyskull coursed effortlessly through him, it’s truly deserving champion. When the machine in Faker begins to fail, the power of Greyskull does not. He man perseveres because his strength comes from a higher place outside of himself.

By the end of the brief conflict, it isn’t even close. He-man sends Skeletor scampering for safety atop this giant panther with his defeated robot servant in close pursuit. He-man had won; but Skeletor realized that he had uncovered a true weapon in the war for power. Skeletor had discovered the art of deception over brute force. He would perfect that weapon & deploy it again when the time was right. But for now, He-man had saved the day once again.

Overdue Calibration

It was election day in my state. I hadn’t been to the range since the Presidential Election of 2020; over a year ago now. My absence from the range was not politically motivated–Covid-19, protests that hinted of civil unrest, & growing popular support for the Democratic party had all conspired to render ammo difficult to find & expensive when found. My decision to avoid the range was a fiscal, not a political one. Nonetheless, I believe in the responsible exercise of the “Right to Bear Arms”–meaning, I believe in “exercise.” I wanted to assess proficiency with my primary defensive weapon–a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield. This handgun is a 9mm pistol carrying a maximum number of 8 bullets. It is not an “assault weapon;” but provides an honest man a reasonable chance to defend his life if need be, especially give it’s suitability to carry concealed with appropriate license if legal to do so in your area.

I was sent to the hybrid lane. Given the long layoff, it took me more time to readjust to this lane’s touch screen controls vs the old-fashioned switch in my usual pistol lane than it took for me to rediscover my aim. Although my first shot was low, it was still straight center & in the target. This would have been an effective self-defense hit. My sight picture & trigger control had not fallen off much.

My very first shot after a year-long layoff at 5 yards was slightly low but still passable for self-defense.

Mag 1

I was using 3 of my 4 magazines today–my two extended 8-rd ones & 1 of my two 7-rd ones. The other seven rounder I was holding out of practice as I like to keep at least one loaded for a just-in-case self defense situation. Despite its 8-round capacity, I only had it loaded to 6. I was using an already opened box of Remington Range 124 grain ammo that I purchased during the Covid summer of 2020. Early on, my pistol tended to malfunction with 115 grain Winchester “white box” ammo. After talking to some RSO’s (Range Safety Officers) & a couple of friends who were retired police, I decided to focus on my grip & use 124 grain bullets when possible. The weapon has proven much more reliable since then, & today was no exception. Today would feature a malfunction free performance.

Despite a couple of low shots I was satisfied with the results from my first magazine.

Mag 2

A bit prematurely, I decided to test how well I had retained trigger reset discipline . I loaded my second 8-rd magazine with 7 FMJ bullets this time. I fired one slow shot as I had done all throughout my first magazine but over the next five rounds I managed to perform two separate double-taps. Results were decent but were nothing to get excited about. I was only shooting at a target 5 yards out.

Mag 3

I pushed the target out to a more serious 10 yards. I used my smaller 7-round magazine & chose the target at the top of the left column as it had not yet been punched. I noticed that I had to focus a bit more on my grip, initially at least, after dropping down the the shorter magazine featuring barely any space for my pinky to grip. Nonetheless, I managed two sets of double taps & two slow, deliberate shots over the course of the 6 rounds I’ve loaded. AMMO CHANGE: Since I knew the Remington Range 124 grain tended to cycle well through my pistol, I didn’t want to burn through the entire box. I took advantage of the opportunity to buy a new box of target ammo for a reasonable $23.99. (Because of the ammo shortage, many gun dealers/ranges only sell ammo if you are renting a lane for practice or buying a firearm.) I bought a box of Fiocci Line Classic at 123 grains. While I liked the bullet weight, I had not cycled this bullet through my weapon before. I wanted to test it for proper function. Starting at Mag 3, this is the ammo I used until I choose to fire off a single Speer GD hollow point that I found loose in my range bag.

Mag 4 & 5

Back to an 8 round magazine. I aimed for one of the bottom circles at 10 yards. I go back to double taps. I’m a bit low. (no picture). Dissatisfied, I reload the next 8 round magazine with 7 rounds. I use six Fiocci FMJs & the one loose Speer GD.

Here is a lower target following an assortment of drills from between 7 & 10 yards.

Mag 6

I loaded another 8 round magazine to six or seven then moved the target closer to the common self defense practice distance of 7 yards & practice double taps. I didn’t photography for accuracy as I was more concerned with trigger reset & quicker follow-up shots. While my accuracy at self defense ranges had not fallen off much over the last year without practice, the speed of my follow-up shots had. I wanted to redress that situation quickly m, if possible.

New Pistol

By this time, I had run through 6 magazines with my subcompact 9mm pistol. I had expended between 36-40 rounds using primarily 124 gr FMJs from Remington & Fiocci plus one lone Speer GD HP, also at 124 grain. Satisfied with the reliability of my ammo as well as my residual proficiency, I wanted to try some rounds through my “deep cover” pistol. In a post from November 2020, I reported that my beloved Kel-tec P3AT pocket pistol, which had served me dutifully since 2007 with barely any malfunctions, suffered a catastrophic failure that made me consider retiring the old warrior for good. But over the layover, I decided I didn’t want to give up on such a faithful companion so soon. I purchased a factory replacement recoil spring & guide rod thinking changing them out would most likely solve the problem. If not, I could at least try this $12 solution myself before contacting the manufacturer for a possible warranty repair.

My first shot with my little mouse gun was promising. Sadly, the promise would soon be broken.

Old Gun

I don’t remember if I was shooting from 5 yards or 7. But my first shot was decent considering how dramatically smaller this .380 ACP pocket pistol was compared to my “subcompact” 9mm. I was optimistic with my first shot but not yet satisfied. Over the next 5 shots (I had my 6 round magazine loaded to the max), I would try to dial in my aim. It wasn’t meant to be. On my 5th shot, I noticed the round failed to expel. I thought I had experienced a common jam when I racked the slide to examine the issue. What I discovered was well worse. I experienced the same catastrophic malfunction that I had witnessed back in 2020. Even with the new springs & guide rod, I was still hanging on to an old gun.

Oh well. This Kel-tec was no Colt. It didn’t have legendary status. It didn’t cost a fortune. But for what it was meant to be, it had done it’s job. I still plan to call Kel-tec about it for any warranty options I may have. But either way, I’m hanging on to this old gun for the memories of nothing else.

Notes & Observations

Since I had shot a little low at 5 yards to start & then a little high at 10 yards later on, I didn’t bother testing my proficiency at distance. For my primary CCW pistol, I want to see about half my shits strike the intended circle for a distance of 25 yards. That assessment would have to wait until next time though.

When I go through a layoff from the gym, the first thing to go isn’t my strength but my stamina.

When it comes to shooting, the first thing to go isn’t my accuracy but speed.

Moving forward. I know I can go a year without practice & still remain competent with my weapon; but that’s pushing it. A more reasonable time frame would be nine months max between sessions if I am to retain my speed with follow-up shots.

My overdue calibration was now complete. I passed.

Le Morte d’Fidelitas

Image borrowed for not-for-profit, creative purposes. Click on highlighted text “SOURCE” for image’s origin.

Do you remember the tale of King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table? It’s a series of legends that means so many different things to so many different people. The tales revolve around such high order concepts like honor, courage, & equality. This tradition is not just an amazing story: but a series of numerous amazing stories that, taken together, create a context for an idealized age. The theme that stood out the most for me as a student was the love triangle involving King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, & Sir Lancelot. This particular sub-plot highlights what is to me the most treasured of all high order concepts–FIDELITY.

The entire premise behind the Round Table was equality. Unlike a traditional table that takes the shape of a square or rectangle, there is no “head of the table.” Any point around the circle’s outline stood an equal distance from the center. Any one knight seated there could take center stage at any given moment. Each man, whether lord or vassal, was equal part speaker & listener; performer & spectator; leader & follower. The Round Table served as a stirring symbol for an ideal for which we still strive even today. So imagine the shameful scandal it must have been when the leader behind such a beautiful idea fell victim to the common sin of adultery.

Click on the highlighted link that follows to see a YouTube video clip from the 1981 movie Excalibur. In this scene, the King asks the rhetorical question, “What is the greatest quality of knighthood?” The answer he receives foreshadows the betrayal that is yet to come.

Careful what You ask For

As if that weren’t bad enough, Arthur’s Queen Guinevere, the iconic pure lady in the most elevated legend written from the courtly love tradition, not only cheated on her husband . . . but did so with the his best friend . . . Lancelot!

Sir Lancelot was Arthur’s greatest Knight. On multiple occasions, depending on which tradition of the legends you cite, Lancelot fought & defeated the entire lot of knights all on his own. He was the champion who would defend the King’s, or the Queen’s, honor in single combat in situations that didn’t warrant involving the entire army. Lancelot was supposed to be the Guardian of Purity; but he betrayed his King–and best friend–by sleeping with the Queen. The affair between Lancelot & Guinevere was the betrayal of Betrayals! It was a sin interwoven into a sin. Not only did the King of idealistic Camelot lose his wife to such a profane sin of adultery; but did so knowing that it was his best friend & bodyguard who stole his wife away! Why didn’t they just stab him in the back & then urinate on his bleeding corpse as they ridiculed him while he toiled through his last painful breaths? Where were their 30 pieces of silver, as they had “betrayed their master with a kiss“?

Here is another link from the 1981 movie. I couldn’t find a clip in English but that shouldn’t matter as the action requires no words. Fast forward to the 1:18 mark & witness for yourself the death of fidelity.

Once Seen, cannot be un-Seen

But when it comes to stabbing people in the back, it was Arthur who had the last word. After having endured so many whispers of this tragic betrayal, the King tracked his Queen into the woods only to find the unclothed bodies of the two people who he loved the most asleep in an intimate embrace. The brave warrior held mighty Excalibur over the pair of evil-doers, ready to slay them as was his right as husband & king. But instead, the King of Camelot, Champion of Equality & advocate of righteousness, plunged his sword in between the two lovers & left them alive to awaken & live with the guilt of their sin. While Guinevere & Lancelot chose to strike their King down with infidelity, their King responded not with violence but forgiveness. Arthur was too faithful to his wife & friend to end their lives.

Editor’s Note: The following content involves the use of characters both named & un-named. Any likeness to other people, real or imagined, is completely coincidental.

Fidelity. In my own life, my pursuit for this lone ideal above all others has been the biggest source of my frustration as well as the greatest block to finding lasting love for myself. Although I don’t claim to be “king” or any form of “royalty” for that matter, I’ve often played the role of Arthur in my life’s intimate relationships. On more than one occasion, I’ve dealt with the aftermath of some unseen betrayal–or, worse yet–borne witness to such betrayal, at least in my own eyes, similar to the ghastly scene that Arthur discovered in the woods. I even shared one such instance with my wise pastor. I told him that every time I closed my eyes, I’d see my beloved Lorraine with that corrupt monster who stole her from me. I could never free myself from the pain of that disappointing image; I could never feel pace, whether my eyes were opened or closed. For months afterwards, all I saw was PAIN. My pastor responded in a factual but sympathetic way: “It’s true what they say. Once you see something that horrible, you can’t un-see it.”

In more practical terms, he followed this up with: “You have to forgive.”

“Forgive?” I asked, confused.

“Forgive them. Forgive her. But forgive him too.”

I stormed out of his office in anger. I was disgusted with my pastor’s weakling advice. I could forgive her, of course . . . she was pretty! But forgive that fat, ugly beast? NO! I wanted to slay this pile of walking pollution as was my right as a man betrayed. I would un-sheath my Excalibur & not re-sheath him until he had feasted on my enemy’s blood! (This is figurative language used for dramatic effect only).

At the time this conversation occurred, there was no talk of “Arthur” or “Round Table.” I only bring it up now because, after countless painful nights & deep reflection, I, too, chose not to strike down those who had wronged me. At first, my pastor’s plea to forgive seemed like vile weakness; but eventually, I saw forgiveness in this case as strength. Like King Arthur, I did attention to betrayal; but then walked away. Today was the day that this same pastor invoked the legend of Arthur & “The Sword in the Stone.” And today was the day I finally decided to heed that wise man’s plea & put the betrayal behind me, not in front of me. It only took . . . oh, I don’t know…..a year or so. (Statement inserted for humorous effect only).

Today’s sermon haunted me as I went about my Sunday’s chores. At some point, I realized something. It wasn’t so much the loss of Lorraine that I had been mourning; but the failure of faithfulness. I had witnessed what I believed to be the loss of a sweet girl’s innocence, & I regretted that perceived loss. She wasn’t the love of my life; but she was my Camelot. She was validation of an impossibly child-like expectation I have always held onto. She was my fairy tale. And her betrayal was the death of my innocent vision.

In every Arthurian legend, his death evokes both pain & hope. Pain, because the Warrior King who was not too proud to show mercy when warranted had passed; hope, because of a prophecy that declared that when the need arose, on a future date the King would return. If I’m not mistaken his epitaph read:

Arthur: the Once and Future King.

For me, fidelity died with when Lorraine disappointed me. But it wasn’t her job to uphold my world view anyway. Concepts like Fidelity are bigger than one person or one moment. Fidelity, like love & courage–can be vanquished for a time, but not forever; so I mused.

I’ve mourned the death of my personal Camelot as I saw it sink beneath the dark waves of The Lake. My treasured dream had ended. But after today’s sermon, I realized that my use of the word ended is premature. The place where I am now is neither an end nor a beginning; but a continuation. Life, spiritual growth, triumph–these high order ideals often occur in cycles. I had witnessed what I thought was the death of fidelity; but it was simply a set-up for its re-emergence. My cycle continues. I’m still learning. I’m still improving. I hurt but then heal. I hate but then love. I fight but then forgive. Just like the legend says about King Arthur, when the need arises on a future date, my Camelot will come again. I treasured Lorraine. I treasured what she represented for me; what I made her out to be. But doing so was unfair to both of us–and foolish. When I experience my own personal Camelot, it doesn’t have to have anyone else’s name on it other than my own.

My Camelot . . . will come again.