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I could see him ejecting shells from the shotgun from behind his makeshift firing position. He probably thought I was a zombie communist (Zommbunist?). Had the theft of our Xbox denied him an outlet for his unique brand of dementia? Had I unwittingly armed a psychotic war veteran?
A small group of frightened neighbors gathered hesitantly in the hallway.
"Um, are you ok?" one neighbor hazarded. I think his name was Simon, and that he once stole mail from me.
I dismissed the shotgun blast with a bad excuse, "Ceiling fan exploded." I waved them off with a dumb smile. I don't think any of the apartments had a ceiling fan, but I didn't want to stick around to see if they bought it. I quickly reached through the hole my Dad had blasted in the door and unlocked it.
After a brief struggle, and a mellowing headlock, Dad gave up the weapon and we got a good night's sleep, but only after I'd dismantled the gun and hid pieces of it all over the house. If he was going to kill me in my sleep, he'd have to go on an Easter egg hunt for gun parts first.
The next day I returned the loaner, and canceled my purchase of the gun. Mark was unhappy with me, not only for the loss of the sale but also because I hadn't properly secured the weapon. I would have told him to fuck off but since he was better armed, I decided just to take his lecture on proper gun etiquette as penance for letting my Dad shoot at me.
Having saved myself $700 by not buying a gun, I decided to make my next stop a GameStop [Ed. Note: That slogan will cost you $3 million, GameStop CEO]. I replaced the Xbox and shoplifted him a copy of Modern Warfare 2. Dad needed something to keep him occupied, and as long as he was busy shooting polygonal Russian civilians, I felt safe.
I haven't been able to afford a new door, but the cardboard and duct tape seems be foiling any intruders. Maybe the spray of shotgun pellets in the hallway wall acts like a proverbial head on a pike, warning thieves that crazy people live inside.
When I told him what happened, my friend Jim joked that Dad was a veritable case study about the causal link between games and violence. We laughed - I don't know if there's a link between games and violence, but I do know now that there's a link between crazy Dads, guns and holes in my door. My Dad is a special person. Right now, he's barking out orders at some squeaky-voiced teenager. "Return to your goddamned foxhole before the commies use your brain to reanimate Stalin!"
Ah Dad, I love you, even if you do try to kill me sometimes.
Marion Cox can be followed on Twitter, or if you prefer more traditional stalking methods, you can find him passed out drunk in The Public Library of Springfield every afternoon between 2 and 5pm.