ARTICLE: THE OLD GUN by David L. Falconer
The tall middle-aged man stood with the tall old man in front of the gun safe as the door swung open. The old man was the younger man's mentor, his best friend, and to the young man's great fortune, his grandpa.
"I wanting you to take your pick of my guns," the old man said, peering into the safe as the younger man smiled a whimsical smile, one both happy and sad at the same time.
"Grandpa, whatever you want me to have is fine with me," the younger man said, his voice strong and deep, yet soft.
His grandpa picked up an old lever action rifle. "This was your great uncle's from the turn of the century. It’s a model 94 Winchester and it’s been used but it’s probably worth enough to buy two new ones now."
"It’s a nice rifle," the younger man said, taking it in his hands, working the lever and raising it to his shoulder. "I've always admired it."
"So has your dad," the old man said. "You might have to fight him over that one!"
The grandson laughed along with the old man's chuckling as he put the gun back in the safe, bringing out a 1890's model Winchester pump .22 rifle.
"This little gun belonged to your uncle too. It shoots good." The old man handed it to the younger one.
The younger man took a moment figuring out how to pump the rifle, then working the action gently, checking the chamber and closing it before handing the gun back to the older man.
The old man said, "Your uncle killed many a gray squirrel with that rifle."
The younger man knew that was easier said than done for most because grays don't slow down for much and getting a shot at them with a .22 takes some luck and skill as well as an accurate gun.
The old man put the gun back in the gun safe and pulled out a beautiful silver inlaid double barrel shotgun. He hefted it to his shoulder in a natural swing, both eyes open as the gun came up as though a quail had taken flight.
"That's the gun you got in that dog trade," the grandson said, recognizing the double immediately.
"Yep, this old gun was worth a $1000.00 back in 1984 and I bet its worth two or three times that now," the old man commented. "It shoots good too. I shot a few birds with it but didn't want to scratch it up carrying it in the field."
The gun went back in the safe and he brought out a new Browning A5 Lightweight 20 gauge. "I got this one at a Quail Unlimited Banquet. Your Uncle won it and gave it to me."
The young man held it. "It looks brand new."
"I've shot one box of shells through it."
He put the gun back in its place and looked at the younger man. "There is some other guns in there son, but those are some of the more expensive ones."
The younger man took a deep breath. "Can I see that old lightweight A5 20 gauge there in the back?"
The old man reached in and got it out. "Son this old gun has seen better days. I had to replace the forearm on it cause the original got cracked and it doesn't match the other wood. Most of the bluing is gone and the vent rib is nicked." He handed it to the younger man. "The old gun still shoots though."
The younger man held the gun respectfully in his hands. Treating it much like one would an old friend. "This is your gun," he said in a tone leaving no doubt it was a statement. "This is the gun that you taught me how to shoot a semi-auto shotgun with."
He looked in his grandpa's eyes, his own eyes no longer dry. "This is the gun you killed the bird shooting it one handed because I flushed the birds and you still had your hand on the top wire of the fence."
He pulled back the loading lever and the old gun locked back. "This is the gun you knocked down five quail with five shots on LB Lowe's land on a covey rise. It’s the gun you let me use to kill my first turkey when I was 11 years old."
He let the receiver forward. "This is the gun you were shooting that time I knocked down every bird you were going to shoot at when we had such a good day hunting on Camp Gruber.
He looked his grandpa in the eyes again. "This was your gun grandpa and it holds a million memories. And of all the guns you have this one means the most to me. I don't have a million dollars grandpa, but I would not take a million or even two million for it."
The old man nodded in understanding, his eyes no longer dry either.
"It will be yours son," he finally said.
The younger man smiled. "I don't want to collect it anytime soon, Grandpa."
"I'll do my best," the old man said.