The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range

The air hung thick with the metallic tang of nostalgia and cordite. Elmer, a relic of Reagan’s microwave optimism, fumbled with the ancient beast in his suitcase from a bygone era where Brylcreem ruled and John Wayne reigned supreme. A chrome leviathan, a magnum opus of a bygone era, a phallic monument to simpler times. Inside, nestled in crimson velvet, lay the chrome glint of a magnum – a phallic monument to a masculinity sculpted in Vietnam’s crucible.The Elks Lodge camaraderie echoed in his head, a half-remembered dream overlaid with the flickering desert mirage on the motel TV. John Wayne blasting Comanches, a sanitized past playing on repeat. The air shimmered, a mirage of heat rising off the cracked asphalt. Elmer squinted, his rheumy eyes barely registering the glint of chrome on the table. Nostalgia, a cruel mistress, twisting memories into a Möbius strip of glory days.

A primal urge, a Pavlovian twitch in his finger. He stepped out, the desert a desolate expanse under the bruised sky. The canyon, a vast concrete ear waiting. 

A canyon symphony erupted as Elmer squeezed off a round, a desperate aria against the encroaching silence of obsolescence. The echo bounced off the sunbaked rocks, a mournful lament for a world where cowboys ruled and enemies wore faces, not pixels.

Did the recoil whisper forgotten memories in Elmer’s ear? A phantom limb twitched, a Pynchonesque echo of a jungle firefight, the sweet tang of cordite, the primal thrill of the hunt. But the enemy here was a mirage, a desert chimera conjured by reruns of dusty Westerns and an echo chamber of right-wing screeds. Who, in this desolate wasteland of his own making, deserved the finality of a bullet?

The crack of the magnum, a thunderous report, a cathartic release. But the echo held a hollowness, a dissonance. Upstaged by the manic symphony of a chrome Uzi, a weapon of the future, cold and sterile. A generation gap in the space of a single, deafening moment.

Memories flickered through the haze – a vision of a young Marine, a tableau of blood and sand in some nameless desert. a jarhead sprawled in a heap of rubble, the ghost of Geronimo haunting the steps of a government building, soldiers reduced to pill-popping automatons on a digital battlefield viewed through a drone’s cold, unfeeling eye. A grotesque parody of the John Wayne picture shows plastered across the motel walls. Back in the room, the drone footage flickered on the screen, a detached, voyeuristic gaze. Soldiers, mere pixels popping pills, their faces obscured by the heat shimmer. The enemy, faceless specters on a digital map.

The bravery of being out of range, a sickening oxymoron, a grotesque caricature of heroism played out on flickering screens 3,000 miles away. The bar blurred at the edges, a hazy reflection of a world gone mad. Elmer choked down another shot, the whiskey burning a bitter truth down his throat. The war raged on, a sanitized spectacle on a high-definition screen, a joystick ballet of death with him as a detached puppeteer. The thrill of the kill, a virtual experience, hollowed out by the absence of fear, the stench of cordite, the primal scream ripped from a human throat.

The Elks Lodge echoed in his mind, a faded photograph of camaraderie and cheap beer. The world outside, a kaleidoscope fractured by CNN’s holographic war. Drones buzzed like demented locusts in a Pynchonesque nightmare, their payloads painting the desert a gruesome technicolor. Pills and paranoia fueled the boys on the ground, pawns in a global chess game played with joysticks.

The recoil, a dull thud against his aging body. Did it mimic something primal, a forgotten echo of caveman conquest? Or was it a pathetic whimper, a desperate attempt to reclaim a fading masculinity? The Uzi, a chrome serpent on the table next to it, mocked him with its youth, its rapid-fire promises.

The bravery of being out of range – a hollow prayer whispered into the void, a desperate attempt to cling to a fading masculinity in a world hurtling towards apocalypse. The taste of bile rose in his throat, a bitter counterpoint to the synthetic victory on the screen. He was adrift in a sea of his own making, a relic of a bygone era, his bravado as empty as the desert wind.

The bravery of being out of range, a phrase that tasted like ash in his mouth. A hollow victory fueled by whiskey and CNN’s holographic war. Back in the bar, the TV blared, a cacophony of sanitized explosions. He was a spectator, miles removed, playing God with a joystick in a bloodstained Escherian landscape. The thrill of the kill, a virtual affair, devoid of consequence, a grotesquely postmodern existence.

Was he the hunter, or the hunted? The lines blurred in a Pynchonesque funhouse mirror. The desert wind whispered secrets, stories of the indigenous ghosts that haunted these very sands. Geronimo’s restless spirit seemed to mock him from the Federal Building steps.

The Uzi, a chrome ouroboros, a symbol of a world spiraling out of control. Was it the thrill of the kill, or a desperate attempt to recapture a bygone sense of agency in this digitized dystopia? The question hung heavy in the air, unanswered,lost in the white noise of the television war. He poured another drink, a bitter toast to the bravery of being out of range, a chilling testament to a world gone mad.

He poured himself a shot, the amber liquid burning a path down his throat. The news droned on, the body count a morbid ticker tape. The thrill, a digitized phantom limb, the satisfaction of victory a hollow echo. The bravery of being out of range, a sickening joke, a bloodstained escapade played on a joystick.