Walmart. Everyone buys ammo at Walmart. Yeah, well, “everyone” doesn’t live in Rhode Island. You know how your neighborhood Walmart is clean and tidy and staffed by people who give a damn (even if they’re just pretending)? Not in my area code. But that’s how it is with passionate pursuits: they take you places where you wouldn’t go on a bet.
I never knew there was a Walmart down by Route 146. Google knew.
I parked the truck at the edge of the lot, away from Toyotas and Chevys that had never seen better days. At least not with their current owners . . .
An obese thirty-something with a backwards baseball cap and a grease-stained Adidas T-shirt sat on a bench outside the door. He sucked on a cigarette in the sweltering heat, staring at nothing.
Equally pregnant middle-aged men moved like message-less bottles cast into an endless, featureless sea. Or something like that. None of them were attached to the women, whose steely stares indicated more than a passing familiarity with shiftless men.
I wasn’t sure who was coming out of the store, or who was going in. My mind was busy processing potential threats, checking for cover and concealment, plotting escape routes.
A greeter stood at the entrance.
“Do you sell ammunition?” I asked.
“In THIS neighborhood?”
The ammo case in Walmart number two lay approximately six miles from the entrance. Not as the crow flies. Obviously.
The Sports Department’s ammo cabinet was locked but not loaded. What few bullet and shell boxes lingered on its shelves sat at odd angles, placed and replaced without care or respect for anything or anyone.
Not that there WAS anyone.
I eventually found three customer satisfaction representatives (or whatever they’re called). They were schmoozing by a lightly packed case of Twilight DVDs.
“Why are there are three of you here and no one in sporting goods?”
“You want ammo?” the alpha assistant enquired.
How the hell did she know that? How many irate ammo buyers had she already faced? Did they get ammo? Would I get ammo, now that I’d been “outed” as an ammo buyer.
She pressed a button on her shirt and called for help.
“What do you mean she doesn’t have her walkie?” she asked her button.
“I sure don’t,” a voice next to me said. A women pushing a cart full of Toy Story 3 merch rolled up next to us.
“You got the key to the ammo?” the alpha asked.
“I got lots of keys,” she countered, jangling four key chains in rapid succession, like a tone deaf bell-ringer turned security guard.
“Yes, well, do you have the key that opens the ammo case?” I asked, trying to steer the conversation in a more goal-oriented direction.
“I don’t want to wear a walkie ’cause they always bother me with it.”
I’m not often speechless. When I am, it’s usually because I realize that the next words out of my mouth will might get me arrested.
“I’ll have four boxes of Winchester nine millimeter bullets,” I said.
“Nine m m’s?” she asked, immediately before dropping a box on the floor.
“Yes, and not that one,” I said.
“Do you want them for a handgun?” she asked, ringing up the sale.
“I figure its better than throwing them at people,” I said.
“Targets.” I corrected. “It’s better than throwing them at targets.”
I might as well have been talking about the weather in Uzbekistan. Wasn’t she supposed to check my license? Would it have made any difference if I’d said the nines were for that funny Calico carbine thing we tested back in the day?
Never mind. Providing I didn’t get stopped on the way out of the door, I’d visited Walmart three times: my first, second and last.
“How did that go?” Sam asked.
“About as well as expected,” I answered.
She moved the bag off the patio table, into the house.
Steven’s ordered 2000 rounds of nine. If the Internet didn’t exist, I’d of had to invent it.