Friday, August 22, 2008

Blackwater Blog Weekend: The Journey

The floor is lurching and bucking. I'm standing up, my right hand braced on an overhead cabinet and my feet spread apart to grip the padded deck. Todd Jarrett is speaking in my ear, telling me to go ahead and draw my weapon. Tamara is waiting patiently behind me for her turn.
"Go ahead," he says, "it's no problem."

This is not an advanced tactical training exercise. Blackwater USA and Todd Jarrett just don't want us walking around with loaded pistols in non-training areas, which makes a certain kind of obvious sense, but it hadn't occurred to most of the gunbloggers as we were riding this rolling rec room (well, it's a rec room in the Burt Gummer sense of the word, as in this would be the wrong dang rec room to break into--did you know Blackhawk's bus driver was a cop for 28 years? Neither did I.) down from Virginia. Jarrett has gotten permission to have us clear our weapons with him on the bus so we can head over to lunch. And he's right; the gun comes out, the mag drops, the slide comes back, and I don't even fall down. It's a measure of how far this place will take me past my current limit. The instruction has not even begun yet!

But this post is really just about how I got here. Mostly, I want to thank Brian (who knows who he is, and who I don't necessarily need to "out" to the world since I don't know how private he wants to stay.) Brian doesn't know me, except that he reads this blog, and Lawdog's, and some others. Brian, like SailorCurt and several others, didn't get the chance to come to Blackwater with us, but he saw a chance to help out, so he gave me a place to stay. This trip hasn't been cheap, and that was a huge help. It actually reminded me a little bit of the time years ago (before most of us had blogs) when Oleg Volk decided he'd had enough of snow and socialism in Minnesota and moved to Tennessee. Oleg was as broke then as I am now, and I didn't have much either, but I did have a roof and four walls. Oleg and two of his friends stayed with my wife and I, and it was a great night and great fun. Anyway, Brian, watch the mail.

The flight was more or less uneventful; security treated me well and the airline's agents were very patient with me. I took photos out the window like a complete geek; the boys will want to see them when I get home. We took off in torrential rain and landed under clear skies, which is always worth doing. I read a little Pratchett and wrote a couple of lines of a bad poem ("Sailing in my steely fish/in the ocean miles above your head/You don't even know you're on the bottom of the sea") and tried to figure out why the little air-conditioning nozzle over my seat occasionally blew what smelled like pure sewer gas.

The next morning, I woke up on someone else's couch to the sound of sirens. The sirens rolled on by, but I was coming awake . . . . oh yeah! I gotta get up; I'm going shooting today! Ever mindful of the dangers of missing your cab or calling without knowing your address, I got all my info together and arranged a ride in a Vaudeville Taxi.

What's that? You haven't ridden in a Vaudeville Taxi? You'd love it. In a Vaudeville Taxi, the driver brings along her best friend/straight man and the two of them crack your ass up all the way to your destination. Stop signs may be disobeyed in the process, and your driver may find herself lost at least once, but you will leave a huge tip anyway because you have been entertained.
"Looka these firemen, fill the boot, fill the boot," one of them may say. "I need about dolla for what I got in the boot. Look at this boot and gimme a dolla. I'll give you a dolla, fireman, but I'm gonna need a boot or somethin'. You don't get nothin' for nothin', fireman."

Later, her friend will making random clicking noises and tell her "I just told you all about you, and you don't even know. That's African right there, girl, just a series of clicks. You don't even want to know what them clicks means."

It's a good time. It's kind of a shame when you have to get out of the cab. These two were very impressed that I was headed to Blackwater to do a pistol course.
"So, you do like that security stuff, right?" the straight man asked.
"No, I teach school and drive an ambulance, and that's about as adventurous as I get." I admitted.
"Oh! You do that overseas and stuff, huh?"
"Uh . . . . no. I do that in Illinois. I'm just a mild-mannered school teacher."
"OH! Illinois? You from Chicago, huh?"

Clearly I am something of a disappointment to my cab drivers, but they were still very nice to me.

OH . . . . did you want to read something about shooting at Blackwater? Maybe the next post.

Here I'm going to thank Todd Jarrett for everything he taught me today (and I DID learn new things that HAVE made me a better handgun shot. More on that later.)

I'm also going to thank Thanos and Kerby at Para-USA for making this all possible--and for thinking to include one voter in the mix, because without that, I wouldn't be here.

And I need to thank My Bride, because she made it easy to come here when she could have made it hard. And my sons, who wrote their daddy a card and sent him nuts.