Friday, January 20, 2012

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

Back in the late eighties my husband and I were Racquetball players. There is something very satisfying about going into a confined space and whacking a small blue rubber ball around. One day we were playing a game and it was my turn to serve. My husband had positioned himself smack-dab in the center of the court about 15 feet in front of me. I dropped the ball to the floor, waited for it to bounce back up, and then hit it with my racquet as hard and as fast as I could. It zoomed forward and right into the center of the back of my husband's head, making a resounding THUNK as it bounced off. I can still see my husband standing there in a semi-crouch, legs spread wide so he could instantly move in any direction, arms cocked with his right elbow held higher that the left since that elbow was attached to the arm and hand that held his racquet. Time stood still as the sound of the ball hitting his head reverberated throughout the court. He seemed to be frozen in place. Then his head and upper body twisted around as he turned to look at me. He did not say a word. He did not have to as his face had a look of such great reproach I started laughing. The odds of me hitting him in the head like that were so high I knew I could never do again even if I tried to do so deliberately. I was also laughing because I thought it might be cosmic payback for cheating in our other games. According to Racquetball rules " the racquet frame must include a cord that must be securely attached to the player's wrist." You see my husband is ambidextrous and when we began playing together he left the cord hanging so he could switch hands as he played. Doing so gave him a subtle advantage since his reach was now greater and his reaction time quicker on what would have been backhanded strokes. I finally noticed what he was doing and called him on it. From that moment on he put the cord around his wrist.

Now flash forward to last week and a day when the outside temperature reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit/21.1 degrees Celsius. My husband had bought a new 28 gauge shotgun for bird hunting this year and was experimenting with different brands and load of shotgun shells and testing them by taking them up to the gun range and shooting clay targets. This day he as me if I wanted to go along and shoot his new gun and I said yes. He threw the clay targets using this:

Clay target thrower with clay target.

After I had shot at a few targets we switched places and I became the target thrower and he the shooter. Throwing clays with one of these things is a little tricky. As you can tell, you slide the clay into the thrower and then hold it by the handle. You then swing it back and then quickly swing it forward to release the target. The trick is getting the holder to release the clay. I have to hold the thrower with both hands and swing it forward like a baseball bat and then, when the thrower is just to the left of my body I stop the forward movement of the thrower the same way a batter checks his swing. I don't break my wrist to complete the swing. When the thrower stops moving the clay target does not and, if you do it correctly, it soars into the air.

Since you all know where this is heading let me set up the scene. I was holding the thrower in my right hand and standing with my back to my husband. He was standing about eight feet away and two feet ahead of me so he could see the target when I release it. And since he is left-handed the barrel of the gun was right next to his face as he looked in my direction.  It was the first time I used the thrower that day and I misjudged how strong the force and the weight of the clay would pull against my attempt to stop the thrower's forward motion. Instead of stopping where I wanted it to stop, just to the left of my body, the thrower pulled my arms around hard enough for me to break my wrists and complete my swing causing the clay to be released right at the point where it was heading straight at my husband. It was moving so quickly I didn't even see it hit the gun barrel. I only heard it hit and saw dust and smoke as it disintegrated on contact. My husband flinched as tiny bits of clay hit him in the face. I was frozen in place and horrified by what had just happened. My husband examined his gun, looked down at the ground in front of him, and then looked up at me saying, "It's the racquet ball all over again."


Tara said...

HAHAHA.... I like this game.. you have to throw the pigeon AT the gun and if it hits the gun...THEN you score points...

la peregrina said...

I see you've played this game before. :-D