What’s a 60-year-old lady doing with a .357-magnum Smith and Wesson cowboy pistol? When I purchased a house in the woods on a Pacific Northwest island, a male friend insisted that I take his father’s pistol with me. My friend thought I needed protection in the woods.
I put the .357 in a shoebox and moved to my new island home. One night I heard someone walking outside my bedroom window late at night. It was dark. I thought about getting that gun out of the shoebox. I quietly got out of bed and carefully slid the curtains back an inch. I was staring directly into a dark brown eye attached to a fine set of antlers. Woman and beast stared at each other for at least 15 seconds. The deer continued his nightly foray around the perimeter of my house, and I went back to sleep after my heart rate dropped. The gun remained in the shoebox.
A neighbor lady called me late one night. She heard noises outside. I thought about taking that .357 out of the shoebox but figured there was a deer outside her bedroom window or maybe a wild turkey. Turkeys liked to frequent the neighborhood. I talked down her hysteria over my cellphone. Since my gun was unloaded, I would have had to throw it at an intruder anyway. Everyone went back to sleep.
Another time, there was a whole flock of sheep in my front yard. I like lamb chops, but I still didn’t get that gun out of its shoebox.
I tried to give that .357 back to my friend when I moved to Southern Oregon, but he talked me into buying it from him. He needed dental work and didn’t have insurance, so I gave him $400 to help his teeth out. He has better teeth now, and I own a gun.
During my final haul of possessions to Oregon, a highway patrol officer pulled me over for speeding. The unloaded gun was in the shoebox on the passenger seat in a bag with an open container of homemade hooch. The apple brandy was a gift from a friend. I was worried. The officer gave me a warning for speeding and did not notice the contraband.
When I became a resident of Oregon, a friend recommended I acquire a concealed weapons permit. I wondered how hard that could be. The Sheriff’s Office gave me a list of licensed trainers for permits. I took a class. It was easy. An officer from Jackson County who taught marksmanship came to my house and showed me how to take apart and load four different kinds of guns that he owned. We read through a computer program about gun safety. I passed the training. I didn’t even have to use a gun.
I got fingerprinted at the Sheriff’s Department and they mailed my concealed weapons permit to me. I put it in the shoebox with the gun. I don’t plan on using it. My holster doesn’t match any of my dresses.
Diane Wallace lives in Jacksonville.