I just ran across this story. I wrote it several years ago and had forgotten it. Hope you don’t mind if I “celebrate late” for Father’s Day?
A Father’s Day Story
Well, it’s Father’s Day, but my father died in 1983. Sometimes that feels like just yesterday and at others, as if it’s an eternity ago. I visited his grave today. He and mother are once again together. How can you wish a deceased parent a Happy Father’s Day except by remembering, so this is my Father’s Day present to him.
My father was a “crack” shot. Probably because he came up in the Depression and didn’t have much money and none to waste on “missing”, so he got to be a very good shot as he hunted the Mississippi woods to help feed his family. After he was grown and married my mother, he worked for 45+ years with Jitney Jungle (that was a grocery store chain here in Mississippi) in various positions. When he first began working there, he was in the warehouse, and as with all warehouses – there were rats. That’s right, wherever there’s food stored…there’s rats. Now word got out among his fellow workers that he was a good shot with a pistol, so it soon became his job to “take care of” these pests with the pistol that was kept in the manager’s desk drawer. One day, a group of workers were arguing and making a big commotion, and they came to him and started talking about betting whether he could shoot one of the long, thin, light cords in half that hung from the ceiling. And they were all talking about betting their week’s wages.
“No, no!” he said. “I’m not betting my week’s pay on shooting a string. “I’ve got a wife and kids!”
“No.” Someone said, “We don’t want you to bet…just shoot.”
He didn’t even like that idea, but finally agreed. He then crossed the room, reached into the drawer, took careful aim, and…
“No, no, no!” Half of them shouted. “What’s wrong?” the others asked.
“You said he was a “quick draw.” “Ain’t gonna be none is this aiming. He’s gotta grab that thing and just shoot!”
Will they argued back and forth for a while and everyone finally agreed he would just grab the gun and shoot. Well, he put the pistol back in the draw and someone started counting to three.
My dad grabbed the pistol, spun around to the agreed on light cord, raised the gun, pulled the trigger…and in a hair’s breath of time…
The light cord went limp as it fell to the floor.
At that moment, there were both the cheers of the winners and cursing from the losers and whoops and hollers that filled the building and rang out…until, someone said, “Hush!” “Huuuush!”
“What do you want? We are celebrating! “
“What’s that noise?”
Everyone got real quiet. “I don’t know?” “Don’t remember ever hearing that before.” “Where’s it coming from?”
“Can’t tell.” “Spread out and look.”
Soon someone called out, “Hey!, here it is!”
“What is it?”
“Not sure, but one of the freezers is leaking.”
Well, you got it. The bullet that split that light cord went on to punch a hole in a refrigeration line on one of the big, walk-in freezers.
And you wanna guess how much a refrigeration line cost back then? Well, I’m not sure exactly, but it took all of their paychecks. So they went from big winners to big losers in the same moment. Could have been worse – could’ve lost their jobs. Mr. Jud, the owner, just shook his head and laughed the next day, but added a “Don’t let this happen again.”
I don’t think my dad ever agreed to anything like that again. If he did, he kept it to himself.
“Thanks, Dad – you worked hard all those years and provided for us. Sometimes I think you didn’t think you did so well in life…but I wish I had done half as well and you gave me lots of great memories, that’s just one of them.”
“I love you. See you soon.”