Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sunday Scribbles XXI

The Notebook: if you've seen the film, you'll know what I'm talking about. I met a couple the other day, at a second-level retirement "home", who brought the reality of the movie home to me forcefully. These places aren't homes, of course. They're institutions for desperate people, most of whom are too enfeebled by circumstances to look after themselves. But I digress. This elderly couple were charming. He reminded me of the chap in The Vicar of Dibley.. No, no, no. no. yes.. and she was another caricature: the vague older persop, always confused. Funny, until you actually meet them. In this case, the lady was permanently bewildered, and he was her staunch, loving support. She is obnviously descending into the hell that is Alzheimers, and he is always by her side. She was constantly on the edge of panic, not knowing what was really happening, and he was simply there, being patient, talking to her, never condescending, always caring. Bugger. Old age often isn't graceful.

Katzenbach: I finished "Hart's War". I think it's the first time that I've finished a book, then wanted to go straight back to page one to start it again. Jenny ripped it out of my hands, anxious to get her hands on it. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Katzenbach II: I also learnt something about writing dialogue from the book, as well. The author is a master at making dialogue between his chatracters involve the reader - in other words, I felt as though I was contributing.

I Believe: On Tuesday, I'll be back for my "I Believe" series. I'm actually very excited about this idea - this may, indeed, be what the blog has always been about. And I know where it all began - with the Socrates Wine Club, in Taupo. For the first time in my life I was actually examining my principles, and sharing those thoughts with other people. How I wish you'd been there.

Reading: Nothing, right now. But thinking hard about "Hart's War", and "Rats".

Listening to: Ian Anderson, "Rupi's Dance". His best solo album.

Word of the Day: curmudgeon. I enjoy being one, but sometimes fail miserably at it.

More RATS:

He ejected the final cartridge, said “hmm,” picked up his brass, and shoved it into his pocket.
He fed five more bullets into the magazine, walked ahead fifty yards, and knelt. The target-rats had by now fixed a fresh target to the frame, and were rasing it as he got to the fifty yard mark He called out to them, telling them not to point to where his bullets hit. He could see that well enough from this distance. He waited until he heard their response, flicked the rifle-strap around his left wrist again, and swept the rifle up to his right shoulder. His arse was firmly planted on his right heel, and his left elbow was locked onto his left knee.
The five shots came in a blur, less than a second apart. Squeeze, flick the bolt up with the thumb, allow it to spring back and eject the shell, then sweep it forward, again with the thumb, and lock it down with a fresh bullet in the breech. Squeeze. Repeat as necessary. Arthur was showing off, and he knew it. He stood, and started the walk back to the 100 yard line, as Ken Swain fired his second round.
All five of Arthur’s bullets had gone through the same hole.
At fifty yards, four of Swain’s were on-target. His first round had gone high and to the left.
There were now over two hundred men watching the competition, and money was changing hands. The bets were now whether or not Arthur Tomlinson’s last fifteen shots would be on-target: that he was a better shot than Swain had already been established.
Arthur waited for Swain to come back to the firing line, made sure the safety was engaged, and then stripped two five-round clips into his rifle’s spring magazine, filling it to capacity. The balance of the weapon had changed now. Arthur hefted the rifle, then worked the bolt, ejecting five of the bullets. Adam Perry, his sergeant, fed the bullets onto a clip, and tossed it onto the ground. Arthur lay down, finding his prone position again, then shot an encouraging grin at Swain. “You’re a good shot, Ken. And I reckon you could be a very good shot, if you wouldn’t mind a few pointers.”
“You’re on, Arthur.”
“After the bet, then?”
Arthur picked up the clip from the ground, blew on it to loosen a couple of stray crumbs of dirt, and put it into the rolled-up cuff of his left sleeve. Once again, his five shots rattled away in a heartbeat. Once again – no. Four shots on-target, the last rising a hair’s breadth to the right.
“Barrel’s too warm, I reckon,” said Arthur to himself. He stripped the bolt out, and blew down the barrel a moment, then turned the weapon around and looked down the barrel. He grunted. It was starting to foul up. Swain had fired his last round, firing prone. He was starting to get a little ragged: only two bullet found the bull’s eye.
Arthur re-placed the bolt, fed five bullets into the magazine, and sat on the stony soil, facing the target. He brought his knees up, knees bent at a 45 degree angles. Twist the strap around his forearm, slap said forearm hard against the left thigh. This is probably the most uncomfortable way to shoot, and Arthur hated it. Five rounds, slow fire: five bull’s-eyes.
Ken Swain’s last five rounds were scattered about the target. Had he been shooting in anger, only three would have inflicted major harm on an opponent. Good shooting, but not good enough.

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