a story about the relationship between a girl and her gun
The gun was too hot to take down, but that was expected after pumping one hundred rounds through it in a matter of seconds. I’ll leave it up overnight to cool down. It was a night shoot, as they always were to simulate “real world” situations. After a quick debriefing I can finally make my way back to my berthing. It’s already dark and quiet because everyone else is sleeping. I hit the shower to wash away the days sweat and grime. I just hope there’s hot water tonight. When you’re on a ship with five thousand other people fresh water can get kind of scarce. I’ve learned to take my showers in less than seven minutes; it was something they drilled in us since basic. For some reason when I’m done I never feel completely clean as if the water was full of sweat and grime from the people working below decks. I finally climb in to my six by two foot rack which has become my sanctuary. After each night I look forward to going to sleep, not just because I’m tired but I can finally shut out the rest of the world even it its just for a couple of hours. I honestly think it might be one of the only things that keep me sane these days.
"Reveille! Reveille! All hands heave out and trice up. Reveille!” It was like one big alarm clock for everyone to share that went off every morning at six am. I choose to skip breakfast because to me a few minutes of extra sleep are more valuable than food. Down at muster my shipmates have the same look as me; tired. A quick roll call to make sure no one has disappeared or fallen overboard then I head back up to my gun. It’s another hot day with not a cloud in sight as I step out on to the weather deck. It rarely rains in the Indian Ocean. This is a heat like I have never experienced before. The kind where you instantly start sweating when you wake up in the morning and it’s hard to breathe. It is almost unbearable in long sleeve uniforms and heavy boots but I just get used to the constant sweat. Sometimes I embrace it when I’m trying to shed a couple pounds and imagine that I am just sitting in a sauna all day.
My gun station is at the very front of the ship and I like it that way, always looking forward and never behind. I call my M2 Browning .50 caliber heavy machine gun Bessie. Bessie and I have a special relationship; I take care of her and she works for me. It’s probably the easiest relationship I ever been in my life. Today I’m going to take care of Bessie. I take her down to my workshop to begin the delicate process of cleaning her. All in all she has about thirty pieces. I inspect each one carefully looking for any faults in them, its imperative that I do this because the smallest discrepancy could mean disaster. I scrub the carbon off each piece restoring them to clean. It’s a long process but it’s something that you cannot cheat. Just like any relationship you have to put some work into it and the results will be worth it. Bessie has her own storage locker where I place her; there she will rest until tonight.
I don’t have much to do the rest of the day, except wait for tonight. This is how the day seems to last forever. I’m told to clean some spaces. This is their go to job assignment when they have nothing else for us to do. I don’t mind it, I get to listen to some tunes and by now I’m so used to cleaning that it is just routine and doesn’t bother me anymore. I go down to the mess decks to grab some chow. It’s some sort of mystery meat that surprisingly does not look appetizing. After I douse it in some Texas Pete I manage to get it down. I head down to my shop to hang out with some of the guys and watch some TV. Top Gun is playing probably for the twentieth time since we’ve been gone. I can’t even count the number of times I have seen that movie, yet it never gets old. Everyone knows most of the words, typical that they play this movie on an aircraft carrier.
At sundown I take Bessie out of the locker and bring her back up on station. I get her set up, secured and comfortable and do a couple of pre-checks to make sure everything will go smoothly. Not much longer and the fun will begin. Once the sun is gone and the stars come out it is time for the gun shoot. It’s called out I head up to my station where Bessie is already waiting. I break out my ammo and load her up, condition three. I rack the charging handle throwing my whole body into it; condition one, she’s locked and loaded. I anxiously await my signal for open fire. Finally batteries release and Bessie conveys such fury that would make R. Lee Ermey proud. It all seems to be going in slow motion; the sound of the rounds going off, the casings hitting the deck, the flash of the incendiary rounds out over the ocean. Out of this mayhem, comes a moment of sheer glory where machine and man become one. My world is quiet, almost at peace. Yes now I remember why I love my job so much. As quickly as it came, the moment is gone. I can see the smoke coming out of the end of the barrel. Bessie has delivered again on her end. She has been reliable and the my work has paid off.
The gun is too hot to take down, so I’ll leave it up for the night.