Friday, February 4, 2011

I was with my father and late maternal grandfather at an antique gun show in the parking lot of Eastern Michigan University. A Goodyear blimp like a giant hermit-crab croissant hovered high overhead. My father and grandfather toted their acquisitions toward an embankment surrounding the lot; I followed empty handed. (I haven't fired a gun since my teens.) My father uncharacteristically aimed his new old rifle at the blimp and fired. Characteristically, he missed; even more characteristically, he accepted failure with good-natured equanimity and turned to proceed on his way. My grandfather then seized his opportunity to display superior marksmanship. He took aim, fired, and missed. Unlike my father, however, he was unwilling to concede that the target was beyond his range. He took more careful aim and fired again, this time hitting a glass panel of the blimp. I heard a faint tinkle and saw tiny shards falling. My grandfather chuckled his bad-boy chuckle, and we all turned and started up the embankment.

Suddenly I heard a horrific crash behind me. Like the opera-house chandelier in The Phantom of the Opera, the blimp had fallen on the rifle show, crushing countless people! The wrecked blimp gushed a pool of gas that spread with preternatural speed. I tried to run up the embankment after my father and grandfather, who'd disappeared; but I stumbled and fell, and the gas got me.

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