Even though it had been sixty-two years, he could still remember that day he first held the weapon he was now holding in his hands with absolute perfect clarity. It was a spring day in 1943 when he, while seeking refuge from sniper fire from a yonder tree line, found the dead American lieutenant behind a crumbled garden wall somewhere in southern France. “I think I’ll be having more use of this now than you will, sir” he remembered hastily whispering to the dead officer when he unsnapped the lieutenant’s service .45 from its holster on his belt to take the weapon for himself.
And now, today, sixty-two years later the more things changed the more things stayed the same: he was still correct in that assessment.
He looked the weapon over (in reality for the very first time). It was a M1911 Browning Colt .45 ACP semiautomatic pistol with the words US ARMY stamped heavily into the blue steel on the slide. It was heavier than it looked too, he thought, as all objects of stark reality do when one gets up close and personal to them. Slowly he worked the action and observed a .45 round that looked like it meant business feed up and into the firing chamber from the spring loaded clip ready to go.
Yes. Ready to go.
He thought about that quality of being ready to go. As the teenagers that lived down the hall were constantly fond of saying he “could dig it” too. Ninety-two years young! He was as the director of the local senior citizen’s center liked to say about him. But the thing was -he always thought when the director said that- he sure as hell didn’t feel so damn young. No, he felt…only the ninety-two.
He rested the heavy sidearm in his lap as he sat in his recliner and looked out the window of his tiny apartment onto the park at the beautiful spring day unfolding outside. It was a beautiful spring day just exactly like that day when he found the dead lieutenant behind that crumpled garden wall somewhere in southern France. Watching, he intently studied the outdoor scene of sunny blue skies and young couples with children playing in the park living out their lives in the moment and…remembered (a terrible thing memory can be when you’re all alone and ninety-two years young! he thought). He smiled a little at the day out there and the people in it and realized he loved them immensely. He saw that he indeed was a lucky man in that he had seen so many years and had loved so much in all of them. Love! Yes! That was the ticket! Because without love life had no value -no, none whatsoever that he could see at all.
He then looked down once more at the heavy dead officer’s pistol in his lap and hoped whoever found him would take the weapon for their very own just like he did. Like him as a young man so far away from home and yearning to return there to those he loved all those many years ago, they would certainly be having more use of it then he would after today too.