The Shape of an “L” on the Forehead

PROLOGUE

Hey y’all. I had this vivid dream last night that was so detailed & felt so powerful, I thought it would be a shame not to share it. I thought it would be entertaining to present it in the form a rough script for a one act play. I even threw in a handful of pop culture allusions to one time popular terms &, for those of you who can handle it, even a bit of social satire. CAUTION: I use some slang from & even a handful of private idiomatic expressions. Follow along if you can, but don’t read too far into this: it was JUST A DREAM, man!

OPENING SCENE

Hot Blonde from my past is sitting on my right in a hot tub. She’s acting like we’re “together” & I’m going along with it but not overanalyzing what it means. I don’t mind if she talks to other men while she’s with me; I’m not too possessive, just enjoying the attention & the semi-exclusive access to her that she allows me. I’m in an outdoor hot tub with the jets either lightly on or not on at all. She sits down next to me on the right side & presses her body tightly against mine. I’m a little surprised but I weave my right arm inside her left arm & she accepts. I rub her smooth, female thigh while she rests her left hand on my right thigh. Other people start to show up. At first, it’s the Young Thick who I believe is vacationing with us. He sits down to my left a couple of feet away. I remember feeling relaxed & confident. I have my hot, blonde, flight attendant loving up on me at my right. I have my young but impressionable body guard buddy to my left. I’m feeling good about my own physique as well. Out here, I’m obviously a “have,” not a “have-not.”

WARNING: A NEW CHALLENGER ENTERS THE ARENA

An unknown Caucasian male unexpectedly shows up & takes a seat in the hot tub on Hot Blonde’s right side. He looks like college kid with the surfer boy hair from the gym–but older, more confident, & huskier. He cautiously takes notice of Kara but respectfully avoids engaging her in conversation as she is a stranger. But Kara eagerly strikes up a conversation with him. He quickly warms up to the idea of getting to know her & shoots an occasional wary glance my way while he tries to assess my relationship to her. Although Kara is verbally attentive to him, she continues to love up on me physically. To curtail any awkwardness, I coolly acknowledge the stranger to let him know that I was in the picture without chasing him off. If Kara wanted to talk to him, he could talk to her. But she was still with me. In the past, an interaction like this would have angered me. Today, I stayed cool though. I was connected to Kara but not attached. We weren’t together “together;” we were together enough. I was closer to her then this cat was & that’s all that mattered. I’m the one who was rubbing up on the top & inside of her left thigh. New guy didn’t want no smoke.

I mostly engaged my Young Thick bodyguard on my left. Despite his immense physical presence, he had adopted a deferent attitude in the current setting He was spoke to me freely but was silent towards our companions, even Kara, who knew him. I caught glimpses in his eyes of silent admiration as he assessed how I dealt with the potential challenger to my love interest without going absolute nuts. I was allowing my girl freedom but wasn’t allowing anyone to punk me either. It seemed as if Young Thick was taking notes on how he might act if in a similar situation.

ENTER, STAGE RIGHT

A new player then entered the arena from “stage right.” He walked behind us & took his seat in the hot tub to the Young Thick’s left. If you were to plot a seating chart outlining the five of us, we formed a capital “L.” The new stranger, Young Thick, & I made the long vertical line. The hot blonde & potential creeper made the short horizontal line. At this point, I was still in confident & in control. I did not perceive the newcomer a threat. I actually recognized him once he got settled into the water. He was a casual acquaintance. He wasn’t a friend, but there was respect between us. There would be no smoke.

But the stage had been set for change. A battle-hardened adversary once said of his enemies: “When they feel the strongest is actually the time they are most vulnerable.” Young Thick seemed to realize this before I did, because he began watch me carefully to gauge my reaction to the new challenger. Seeing no threat, I greeted my acquaintance. In this situation, it was clear that the hot tub was my home. I had been there first. I was there with the hot blonde on my arm. I even had a tall, muscled up, young man at my side to handle any light work, if need be. Like a lion feeling secure in his home territory, I graciously allowed these two new men into my domain as a host opens the doors to his own home to guests. But, if any guest chose to start trouble, the law would favor my swift & potentially violent response. Whatever happened here, I was in the right. Castle Doctrine extends to public recreational places like resort jacuzzis, night clubs, & bars. It didn’t have to be written in any arbitrary law book. Any red-blooded American male with half a sense of honor was sworn to abide by these rules on pain of death! I knew the rules; there would be no need for smoke today.

FUZZY LOGIC

Again, I’m recounting a dream that I had last night. In long dreams like this one, the details between transition scenes become fuzzy. To summarize, Hot Blonde predictably started talking to Acquaintance guy. I didn’t mind because she does this to every new guy who happens to cross paths with us while we’re together anyway; but then she explained that she knew him to. Before I even had a chance to trigger my alarm bells, people started to disappear. I noticed that Creeper Guy had left. My Young Thick was no longer a factor as he had politely excused himself to go inside. Before long, Hot Blonde had taken more than a casual interest in Acquaintance guy. She was now on my left in between me & Acquaintance Guy. Although she was still holding my hand, she had most of her body turned towards him. Occasionally, she’d turn to her right to smile talk to me or even blow me a kiss then wink. But those occurrences became fewer & fewer fast. Even I remember right, she was still holding my left hand with her right when they started making out furiously. Shocked, I braced myself to hold on. As I gathered myself to prepare what to say, prepping my body for a possible confrontation, she stopped kissing him & for the first time in a long time–focused her attention just on me. Her eyes were sad & glue as she feigned an apologetic look. She broke away from her new lover & leaned in close to me while she whispered quietly: “It’s okay. He & I have been seeing each other for a while. It’s give me a few minutes & we can hang out later.”

1453—THE OTTOMAN TURKS

Without a word, I emerged from the pool to go back inside. When this newcomer arrived, people starting to disappear. And now, I was disappearing to. I took one last glance as the beautiful, tall, blonde voraciously turned her full attention towards the newcomer as she threw herself into a frenzied embrace with him. Their two bodies sunk beneath the white bubbles of the whirlpool jets. As they sunk beneath the service, I turned away never to look upon them again. Although they were out of sight, I could still see everything come tumbling down.

It was a long walk back into the resort. Looking back, it must have been uncomfortable to go from a hot water jacuzzi to open air without having toweled off; but I don’t remember feeling cold. I passed through the lobby of our resort, past my Young Thick friend without casting a glance his way. I made my way into a small kitchenette off to the side of the main lobby. My sister was in there eating something. She immediately greeted me by telling me about what she had just been through. I didn’t want to talk but politely listened, not making eye contact. I was still shell-shocked from having had my entire kingdom plundered from right underneath my nose. There was a covered plate on the table that I instinctively knew was supposed to be mine. When I lifted the cover, I saw a half-consumed meal. My sister then explained that she had decided to eat half of my meal. For the first time since I had watched the sinking of the Titanic underneath the cold North Atlantic waves, I spoke; and the words were harsh.

FAT/BALD

I blew up at my sister the way I had only blown up at a true enemy in the past, like that Fat Bald. In fact, it was as if my consciousness had separated from myself & I seemed to be listening to myself talk the way I bystander would. I was stunned at the harshness of my words but was too frozen to act.

My sister was quick to counter-attack me. She called me a hypocrite & screamed out that I was selfish. I caught my breathe & tried to explain that I had just experienced the worst day of my life. She didn’t seem to care. When I reminded her that she had eaten my dinner without permission, she finally snapped to. She grew silent, perhaps recognizing that she had over-reacted then asked: “Well. What do you expect me to do to make that right now?” Then she walked out.

Her words struck me. Was everything suppose to make something right? Couldn’t things just be? There were some things that couldn’t be made right. That collapse of Rome that I had just witnessed out on the pool deck….nothing was going to make that right.

I sunk down into the chair. I was afraid to move, lest the day somehow manage to get even worse! Lyrics from a song from a by-gone era came to mind . . . something about “the shape of an L on their forehead.”

CURTAIN CALL

Less than two hours ago, I was on top of the world. I was at the apex of my physical existence. I was surrounded by competitors for all the blessings I had already earned from myself, & it was clear that there wouldn’t be “any smoke.”

And indeed, there would not be. But in place of “smoke” . . . “tears.”

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.