Every year, about this time, I begin to look back on my life and the many Christmas memories I've built up over the years. Some of the memories are great, others, not so much. The one that sticks out the most in my memory is Christmas in 1984.
I had just turned 12 years old, and Santa brought my brother and I brand new H&R Single-Shot 12-Gauge shotguns for Christmas. As my (younger) brother was a better shot than me, his gun was "full choke;" mine was "Modified," meaning it spread the shot wider to help me hit was I was aiming for. My brother, on Christmas Eve, had a little accident that left him hospitalized for a couple of months, so he and my mother were in the hospital for Christmas Day. My dad's oldest brother, Claude, worked in construction in Birmingham at the time, and since it was winter, he was out of work for a few months and came to stay with us while my mom was at the hospital with Derek. Dad would go to work every morning, come home in the evening just long enough to get a shower and change, and head to the hospital to check on everything, so Uncle Claude was the one watching the (other) 3 of us.
I woke up one morning after Santa had dropped our presents off, and decided to go hunting. Squirrels are abundant where I grew up, so I was gonna do some squirrel hunting. I went out and had a lousy day of hunting (I guess it was too cold for the squirrels to get out of bed) and returned home shortly before lunch with nothing but bruises from shooting the gun (a 12-gauge packs a pretty hard punch on a 12 year old). As I got to the front door, I broke the gun down to make sure it wasn't loaded before I entered the house.
Being a 12 year old kid, I wasn't ready to put the gun away. I wanted to admire it, hold it, wipe it down; basically, just sit and hold it, even if I wasn't "using" it at the moment. As I lay on the love seat, gun in hand, I started daydreaming of a wonderful day of squirrel hunting, where every shot dropped at least TWO squirrels (I've never had a problem with dreaming big!). I had kicked my shoes off at the front door, and was laying there with my socks still on.
I remember the next few minutes very vividly. I stuck the big toe of my right foot in the end of the barrel, pulled the hammer back, and pulled the trigger. I held the hammer with my thumb as the mechanism was released and eased the hammer back to it's resting place. I pulled my toe out of the end of the barrel and left the barrel resting between my big toe and my second toe, pushed through the sock on my right foot.
I pulled the hammer back again, and squeezed the trigger, not holding the hammer this time. Ka-BOOOOOOMMMMMM!
Apparently, during the 2 or 3 seconds it took me to check the gun (when I walked into the house) I was struck with a temporary blindness that didn't allow me to see the shotgun shell that was in the chamber, and I had walked into the house with a loaded gun! My Uncle Claude was washing dishes, waiting on my dad to come home for lunch, and immediately started throwing dishes around in the kitchen, all the while putting cuss words together that clearly didn't belong together. Some of the "compound swears" I had never heard before, nor have I ever heard since.
As the smoke cleared (and Claude got his nerves settled down), we noticed that my parents bedroom door was no long on the hinges, and there was a circular pattern on my parents bedroom wall about 7 feet in diameter. I had also "killed" my sock, a lamp, dad's alarm clock, and my mom's set of Pyrex bowls (from Claude dropping them), 8 "kills" in all! Hell of a shot.
My dad walked in less than 5 minutes later. From the look on his face, I knew this was it. I retreated to my bedroom to begin work on my "Last Will and Testament."
To this day, my dad has yet to say anything about the incident, other than "You owe me a new door." I'm still waiting on my punishment. I have never shot a gun since that day, nor have I even held one. That day I learned a very important lesson; I'm not responsible enough to handle any kind of gun, except, maybe, my Love Gun, and even then, I handle it with care.
Happy Holidays to all of you from the Kevin Waide Project.