Mike arrived at Gary’s home as he did on most days. Always uncertain what his training would consist of, he sometimes dreaded it. It seemed as though it was getting more and more violent and dangerous and far more so than whatever Mike faced simply working for Jaime and the Cartel.
Mike entered Gary’s living room, if you could call it that. There was hardly any furniture in the place. Gary slept on the floor on a mat. There were no photos, no paintings, not even any kitschy pieces of art. Gary had explained that he might need to leave at a moment’s notice and he never kept anything he couldn’t leave behind.
He also explained that even if he lost interest in a particular comfort, like a cushy bed or chair, his body would still want it and that was a weakness that he could not afford.
On this day, Gary was seated in a wooden chair and cleaning his shotgun. His mood seemed a bit out of character to Mike, less formal than usual.
“You snow ski?” Gary inquired while wiping the shotgun with a rag.
“No. I water ski now and then.”
Gary nodded, “Too bad. Got that parka for you.”
Gary nodded in the direction of a red parka hanging on a nail in the corner.
Mike looked at it.
“Go ahead and try it on.”
Mike walked over and picked it up. It seemed heavy to him. He got the front closed up around him, wondering where one snow skis in California.
Mike fell back against the wall, vaguely beginning to wonder what he could possibly have done to have Jaime have him killed. He got to his feet and realized he was neither dead nor dying.
“What the f—!?!”
“Relax. You’re okay, right?”
Gary liked to test things. He had sewn lead sheets, taken from x-ray protection aprons, into the parka to see if a homemade bulletproof vest were feasible. He may have had another motive as well.
Making sure that one was using the right tool for the right job required experience, according to Gary. That was why the next week he gave Mike a choice: Mike could shoot himself in the leg or Gary would do it for him.
Mike wound up doing it himself. Gary quickly filled the hole with some kind of animal fat soaked in alcohol and seared it closed. Now Mike would know what it felt like to be shot, though a .22 didn’t pack the power of a .45 or a 9mm.
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