Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pick yer poison

Considering that only about half of the ceramic tile flooring could actually be seen through the maze of boxes and tubs still lining the hallways, the guest room in the Hall was abuzz with activity.  First Master Ian, and then Master Chris flew in, and for awhile Mrs. H. doubted if she was ever going to be able to keep the refrigerator stocked.
  It was the occasion of Ian's 21st birthday, and brother Chris' arrival in town had been a well kept secret; when the boys finally reunited, Ian nearly knocked Chris over with joy.
 Having purchased advance tickets to a huge airsoft competition in Corona, California, Ian unpacked several of the airsoft rifles Mrs. Hall had been holding for him and choosing a couple of hefty weapons, he invited Chris to do likewise, and the two of them drove down for the mock battle.  The event was attended by over 300 people, who were divided into two teams and then staged a full battle in lifelike conditions. Late into the evening, they returned exhausted, but victorious.

After a hearty breakfast of their favorite lox and bagels, it was decided the little group would take Ian around the suburbs during the day, bring him home for a breather and then hit the Strip for a wow finish.  Since Chris could only get four days off for the visit, they had to set a land speed record for sightseeing, covering as many of the big casinos as they could humanly manage on two feet. By the end of the night, the boys could be seen leaning against the balustrade, taking in the last two shows of the famous dancing fountains in front of the Bellagio just ahead of midnight. Moments later they dropped off to sleep in the back seat of the car, as Mr. Hall ferried their tired little selves home.

After Chris took off back to Montgomery, the merry band attempted to settle into something resembling a routine, but the lures of the city called to them constantly, and so each day became another adventure.

 For some time Ian had been diligent in squirreling away a considerable amount of scratch towards the purchase of a new car, and while he was still far from his goal, he felt he was sufficiently along in the schedule to look at some new representatives of his choice.  Searching out a nearby Ford dealership, he struck up a conversation with one of the salesmen, and before Mrs. H. knew it, Ian had talked him into letting him test drive a brand new Mustang 5.0. and was seen careening out of the lot.  Approximately 45 minutes later, a young fellow with a smile so large it threatened to swallow his whole head, reluctantly crawled out of the vehicle and floated on over to the Halls.  "That was just so much fun!" he continued to say for the better part of the next hour.

Sometime nearer the end of his leave, Ian mentioned he hadn't hit a rifle range yet, and as that had been one of the items on his to-do list, he thought they had better start investigating his choices.  Some short research later, they found themselves at American Shooters indoor range, gazing at a wall of rental firearms and watching Ian drool.  "Mom, mom- look at this one~!  Oh, man, I have to try this!"  Ian was absolutely beside himself, but not so consumed that he didn't forget his usual generosity- he graciously offered to set both Mr. and Mrs. Hall up with ear/eye protection and some rounds of their own to fire off. It was indeed a fun afternoon.  They started off by firing a FN FS 2000 semi-automatic, and having purchased 40 rounds, both the Halls were able to get into the action.

It had been nearly thirty years since Mrs. Hall had graced a pistol range, but happily, she managed not to embarrass herself; when the target was rolled to the front and examined, it was Mrs. Hall's shots in the bullseye.  Ian headed in to rent a huge Desert Eagle .44 Mag at the desk, but at that point, Mrs. H. begged off, explaining it was time for her to return to the role of videographer, until such time when she could acquire a tad more upper body strength.  Mr. Hall did not demur, however, and showed off some fairly considerable skills with a firearm himself.

Between exploring all the outlying casinos and blowing up paper targets, and running errands and moving furniture, the Halls managed to exhaust the better part of a Ian's leave, and before they knew it, his time was up.  Halloween was his last night in town, and after sampling some well-reviewed (but scarily named!) vintage, Ian and Mrs. Hall attended to the trick or treaters at the door and then called it a night.  Several heartfelt and much too brief hugs later the next morning, he was gone, winging his way over the Pacific and back to Okinawa again.

(Editor's note: Regarding the banner photo at left: one of the more fanciful decorator touches purchased along with the house was a grouping of large apothecary jars in the kitchen.  Thanx and a hat tip to Martha Stewart Magazine, October 1996, for the wonderful idea of filling them with what could truly be called ardent spirits.  "A sound idea for any occasion," remarked Mrs. H.)

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