The Day My Grandson Paul
Found a Loaded Gun
When Paul dashed out of the house to meet me that evening, as I came home from work, I could tell something was wrong.
Paul is the grandson my wife and I had been raising since he was five. Now, at age 14, we felt secure in leaving him home alone for short periods. And I could tell by the absence of another vehicle in the driveway that he was alone.
Anyway, his face was red and he was crying uncontrollably. He was also yelling, but I couldn't understand what he was saying because he was so hysterical.
"What's the matter, Paul?" I asked. "What's going on?" "I didn't know it was loaded," he cried. Then he quickly added, " I know you'll never trust me again, but it wasn't my fault. I swear? didn't know it was loaded."
Oh my God I thought. "Someone had handed Paul a loaded gun. Was one of his friends lying dead inside the house?" As I moved quickly toward our front door, I kept telling Paul to calm down and just tell me what happened. By now he was clinging to my arm, begging me to stop and listen to him. So I stopped in the doorway and asked him again what had happened, and who had given him a gun?
"It's Grandma's gun," he sobbed. "I know she's gonna kill me when she finds out what happened!" "Grandma has a gun?" I asked, scarcely able to believe what I was hearing.
Paul nodded and again said, "I didn't know it was loaded. Honest, I didn't!" Now I'm thinking, "Okay, he didn't shoot a friend, but maybe one of our dogs?"
"No!" Paul yelled, "Not the dogs?hey're okay." This was confirmed when I opened the door and all four came out to greet me. But they were acting a little agitated.
"So what happened?" I asked again.
"Well, Grandma kept the gun in a secret place and she thought I didn't know, but I've known right along."
"Right along?" I asked incredulously. "How long has Grandma had a gun?" "I don't know," Paul said. "Forever, I guess."
My head began to spin. Forever? A gun? In my house? Now I really did have trouble believing what I was hearing.
"So what did you shoot?" I asked.
"The waterbed," Paul sobbed. "You shot our waterbed?" Paul just nodded, and continued to cry. "Oh, my God," I thought. "The bedroom must be flooded, and probably the rest of the house as well."
But I took some comfort in knowing that the victim was a waterbed, and not one of Paul's friends or one of the dogs.
Well, the carpet in the bedroom was wet, but I didn't find the ankle-deep flood I'd expected. So I ran outside and dragged a hose into the bedroom. I connected it to the spigot in the water mattress to let the rest of the water drain outside.
Next I began throwing towels, sheets, blankets and anything else I could find onto the soggy carpet, to help suck up the water.
Then I heard a car pull into the driveway. My wife and Paul's mother (who had recently moved in with us after having been out of touch for several years) would be in the car.
I went out to meet them, feeling more angry than I'd ever remembered feeling in my life.
I hardly knew where to begin.
Finally, I managed to blurt out, "Paul shot the waterbed!"
"Shot it?" asked my wife as she moved quickly toward the front door.
"Right!" I replied. "Shot it and he says he used YOUR gun!"
Well, I won't go into the details of how we had to call a professional carpet cleaner and how we later got the holes in the water mattress patched, but suffice it to say we all survived the day.
Nonetheless, I wanted to know why there was a gun in the house, and a loaded one, at that.
"Well," my wife said "you're here most of the time now but don't forget there was a long period of time when you only came home on weekends. And I felt more secure having a gun on hand."
Okay, that was a valid point that I couldn't argue with. "But why didn't you tell me about it?" I asked.
"Because I know how you feel about guns," she replied.
Well, all this happened a number of years ago. My wife subsequently sold the gun and there was never any discussion about buying another.
To summarize, Elaine passed away in 2000 (after 40 years of marriage) and I later sold the house to move closer to other members of our family in Orange County. As for guns, well, the last time I handled one was in 1951 in Korea.
And perhaps one day a psychopathic killer will be out to get me and I'll say to myself, "Gee, maybe I should own a gun after all." But, for the moment, I remain blissfully unarmed.