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Essays by KT

Guns and Games

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9/11

September 18th, 2003

Memoir

10th Grade English

We had arrived after church; I had called the night before and talked to Megan and was looking forward to that day.

"There’s nobody here," my mom said when we arrived to a totally empty driveway. Well, this has happened before, and Megan was home. I grabbed my bag, hopped out of the van, and ran over to their porch, up the stairs, and knocked on their door. There’s nobody here! Where is everyone? Is this some sort of joke? She told me to come after church, and they’d be here by one. Maybe they’ll be here in a little while; it’s only 15 ‘til. I waited, half-expecting Megan and Jeremiah to jump out of their hiding spots and start laughing. But they didn’t. She’s still not here. Where could they be?

The whole time we were driving home, maybe she’s behind us. I looked. Nobody there. Megan?

We got home. I know. I’ll call her. Ring, ring, ring. No answer. Where is she? Re-dial. Please let somebody answer, and please let her be there. Re-dial. Re-dial. Still no answer. Where could she be? Re-dial.

"Hello?" Finally, someone’s home!

"Hi. Is Megan there?" Please let her be there.

"Yeah, just a minute." Yes!

"Hello?" It’s her!

"Hi." We waited in silence.

"Are you still coming over?" Well, yeah, I was over there once!

"Yeah. He were over there once, but you weren’t there."

"Oh, I don’t know." We waited in silence once again.

"I’ll be over there in a little while."

"Okay." Yes!

"Bye."

"Bye."

"Mom! I’m ready."

"Okay."

I scarfed down the rest of my lunch, grabbed my bag, raced to the van, hopped in, and we were off. I can’t wait. Who else is gonna be there? C’mon, c’mon, c’mon.

We’re there! Yes! I got out of the van, grabbed by bag, and ran over to where Megan and Amanda were standing, past her sisters yelling my name, "Katie, Katie, Katie." We waited at her house for a while and met some new people. We piled our plates with chicken, beef stroganoff, zucchini casserole, and raw veggies. My mom had said to be home by 8:00, and when I talked to Megan about it, it didn’t sound like I would be home by then; I called my parents, and my dad answered the phone. Telling him the situation, he talked to my mom and they decided I had to be home by 8:30 and to call by 8:15 if for some reason I couldn’t get a ride. We decided how many guns we had, and who was going. There was one less gun than the amount of people who were going, so Amanda said she would stay so I could go. We got ready. I put my pants on over my shorts, and Sam let me borrow one of her sweatshirts and a bandanna. In the back of a small, blue truck, looking like a mob with our science goggles/masks, bandannas, and guns in our hands, we rode down the bumpy, dirt road leading to state land by their house, where we would be paintballing. The state land was just across the small field by their house, so it was within walking distance. It would be my first time, and I had no idea how to play. I’d never been hit by a paintball, and I’d only shot my brother’s little pump pistol once or twice. Sam had warned everyone before we left that she was a bad shot and had a tendency to hit you in the head without meaning to. When we got there, I hopped out. We decide how we were going to play; one team would go somewhere, and we would work toward each other. Once you were hit twice, you were out. We were divided into two teams: Bobby, Megan, Ryan, and I against Jeremiah, Sam, and Justin. Jeremiah explained how to work the gun. The safety switch had a red sticker on the top of one side and not the other, and to shoot, it had to be off—red meant it was off. I had to pump it—he showed me how without actually doing it—and then I could shoot—he pointed to the trigger. He told me not to pump it more than once because it would wreck the gun.

"I’ve done that before," Justin said, and told a story about how he had broken a gun that way before.

Jeremiah had also told me to go to Bobby or Ryan if I needed my CO2 changed. Then Bobby and Ryan decided that Ryan should take all the CO2 cartridges. So now I had only one person to go to, to get it changed. We got into our positions and waited for the other team to come.

"What do we do if we get hit?" Megan asked.

"Lay down and stick your tongue out," Ryan joked.

"Okay," I said jokingly.

"Hey, that’s not funny. Don’t tell me that; I’d actually do it," Megan said with a smile on her face.

Ryan had told me "Hide behind this tree—," and since he had played before and I hadn’t, I did what he said. He had also told Megan to hide behind a tree right next to me, "—and if worse comes to worse, hide with Megan." What? Hide with Megan? So...what? I expose her, too?

We waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, all the while Megan and I exchanging glances, figuring out exactly what to do. Thoughts rushed through my head. I still don’t understand how to play. What do I do? When do I shoot? Well, at least I have somebody close by hat I can ask questions without making a total fool our of myself. I shot at Jeremiah. Miss. Megan, help me. What do I do if I get hit? I don’t know what I’m doing. Then it hit me. Ow! My forehead! Jeremiah! He had hit me in the very upper left-hand side of my forehead. I rubbed my head, where I had been hit, and wiped some of the paint off. It was a clearish-blue. Seconds later, it didn’t hurt. That wasn’t that bad. Ow...ow! I’ve been hit! 2...3 times, ow. He had hit me again, this time on my leg. What do I do? Megan! And I’m not going to lay down and stick my tongue out. I smiled at the thought.

"Set down your gun, and I won’t shoot," Jeremiah said. Well, he obviously sees me; I was shooting right at him. (Okay, maybe I was a little off. Okay, fine. A lot.) "Megan, set down your gun, and I won’t shoot." He was talking to Megan. What? He was talking to Megan? Maybe he doesn’t see me.

"Why would I do that?" Megan said. How can he not see me? I’m in between them. But maybe he doesn’t see me.

"Katie. You, too. Set it down, and I won’t shoot." Huh? What was he saying? I’m confused. He does see me. Well, I’ve already been hit. Okay, there are only a couple of things I can do now: not admit getting hit and then get hit again from a closer distance, or say, "Okay," set the gun down, and not get hit, either way, distracting him from paying attention to and hitting Megan. I held up the gun.

"Set it down."

"Okay!" I put the safety on and walked out from behind the tree. "The safety’s on."

A couple of minutes later, there was only once person still in, Sam, who was a few spaced out trees away from me. Walking back to the truck, we talked about the game. The round was over. I was thinking about who had hit me and if I had been right about who it was. Sam had said that it was her, and Bobby said that it was him. I didn’t see where Bobby hid, but I knew Sam was a little far away to hit me. Then I remembered what she had said about hitting people in the head. Later, when I told Megan, she said that Sam’s paintballs were blue on one half and orange on the other side with green in them, but Jays might have given her some of his, and that she didn’t know what color Bobby’s were.

"All right, guys, we need to make sure some thins a re understood," Jeremiah began. Then, shooting a glance at Bobby, he finished, "First of all, why didn’t you meet us halfway as planned?"

Bobby’s only reply was, "I thought that was the plan: we run and hide, you hunt us down."

Suddenly, everybody started voicing their complaints. "I’m never hiding behind a tree like that again," Megan complained, "I had nowhere to go from there and couldn’t see the attackers without being in full view, but once they spot me, they know where I am, and I’m dead meat! Thanks a lot, Ryan." I have to agree with you there, Megan. That was a pretty lousy spot to hide. But it was better than anyplace I would have thought of. At the time, at least. I kind of wanted someone to tell me where to go, otherwise, I would’ve stood there looking like an idiot, and everybody would be yellin’ at me to HIDE. I thought I should listen to him ‘cause he’s played before, and I haven’t, and I certainly didn’t want to get him mad at me then, nor do I right now.

"Ow, that must’ve hurt with those wind-breaker pants on!" Ryan said after I said that I had been hit in the leg. Not really. I barely even felt it. It stung a little (just a little, though). Even the shot at my head didn’t hurt that badly. The head shot only stung like crazy at first.

"Nope," I said, slowly shaking my head.

"Oh, it didn’t?"

"Nope," I started, "it stung a little but not that much."

"Oh."

Sam didn’t like the way of Jays’ leadership, so she complained to Megan and me. "I mean, he was telling you when to run, where to run and how to do it. I was like, ‘Man, Jeremiah, I’ve played this game before, so leave me alone and let me play.’"

Justin kept shouting, "Guys, Guys, GUYS!"

"What?" we all said pretty much at once.

"Uh, I think I broke your gun, Sam."

He really had broken it (or at least enough that we couldn’t fix it at the moment), so Megan didn’t play the next round. We all walked back to the truck, discussing how we were going to play this round; we were going to guard something. We knew we were going to have different teams but didn’t know how to split us up fairly.

"Wait," Sam said while picking up sticks (some long, some short, some fat, and some skinny). What the heck is she doin’? She held them in her hand against her sweatshirt so we couldn’t tell the length. Oh! "Pick a stick." Wow! Good idea Sam. I would’ve never thought of that. We all picked a stick. "Okay. Justin, Bobby, and Katie; you guys are on a team," she began, glancing at he sticks, "Jeremiah and Ryan; you’re with me." Okay, forget about the ‘good idea.’ It stinks. Figures. Just my luck. The three best players against...us.

We all walked back to where we were playing, discussing the minor details, when we realized that Justin had forgotten his goggles, so Megan gave him hers, and went back to the truck to get a pair for herself. While she was walking back to the truck, we were still discussing minor details.

"We’ll each guard something," Jeremiah started, "You guys guard this chair—" he pointed to a half-decaying lounge chair, "—and we’ll guard—"

"But they know where it is and it’s out in the open!" Justin complained while the rest of us were walking away. Well, he’s right. There’s only about five trees, and they’re scattered around on only three sides, and the other side is open grass. "Help me move this." Well, I’m on his team. I might as well help him. We stood on opposite sides and started to lift it up.

"Guys!" Jeremiah yelled back to us, "What’re you doin’? Set it down and come over here." We did what he said and ran over to where they were.

"Someone can guard this patch of moss." Jeremiah said. What did he say? I wasn’t paying attention so I only caught parts of what he was saying and didn’t know if he was saying it sarcastically or seriously. Guard the patch of moss? How are we going to do that? There’s a bunch of little patches scattered around. Although I heard parts of, I didn’t even have to hear all of what they were saying because, by the look on their faces, I could tell that everyone else was thinking the exact same thing. Seeing their faces and hearing more of what they said than I had, he pointed to some moss and said, "This small are RIGHT HERE! Someone just guard it and if the other team get on it, they win."

We kept walking and changing our minds. Finally, we decided one team would guard the "tree fort," while the other team tried to get inside of it. At least one person from the opposing side had to enter the fort without being shot twice, to win. If none succeeded, the defending team would win. One of the rues was that the defending team could not be more than ten yards away from the fort. The other team spread out since our team had to guard it. After they were out of sight, Bobby said, "Justin, you go about ten yards that way," as he pointed towards the opposite end of the fort, "Katie, you go about ten yards that way," as he pointed straight out in front of him, "and I’ll stay around here."

"How far’s ten yards?" I began; without letting either of them reply, I finished with a smile, "Oh, that’s how far I missed somebody by."

"Ya," Bobby said quietly and half-sarcastically.

I walked, through sticks and weeds, making lots of noise, to about, what I thought was ten yards, all the while thinking. Has it been ten yards yet? It’s been farther than I missed somebody by. I wasn’t serious about that, but maybe he was serious about what he said. I’ll just keep going until I find a decent spot to hide. I walked a little farther and finally spotted a half-decent-looking spot to hide: a fallen over tree with a lot of branches on one side and only a few on top. I rustled around and settled in and ducked and got ready to shoot.

I waited for a while, and I finally saw someone. I hadn’t even seen my teammates since I ‘left’. It was Ryan, in his camouflage with his semi-automatic, but it didn’t look like he saw me. Does he see me? All of a sudden he disappeared. Where’d he go? I just saw him! Okay, maybe he saw me and I just don’t know it and he’s gonna come from behind and start shootin’ at me! I waited a little bit longer, then I saw him again. There he is! I aimed through all of the branches and, to my surprise, got through them all without hitting them. I missed him, but not by much. Surprised, he ducked and then looked around to see where it had come from. He started walking a little bit closer. He was me and started shooting, still on the opposite side of the tree the long way. Just then, my gun ran out of CO2. Oh, shoot. Wait a minute!? Aren’t I supposed to go to RYAN to get my CO2 changed; that person over there on the other team, shootin’ like crazy at me right now!? I’m not gonna go to Bobby to get it changed because I don’t want to walk all that way to get him, and Justin is even farther away, and I don’t want to expose them too. Jeremiah! Gosh! Well, I guess Sam’s the one who made us pick one of those stupid sticks! He hit me, twice. I was close enough to the ground and practically laying down already, and I was going to lay down and stick my tongue out, but I didn’t want to make a fool of myself.

I ducked for a while and then spotted Justin, who was coming right towards me. Finally, someone from my team! Wait a minute, wasn’t he supposed to be on the opposite end of the fort from me?

Maybe he can help me. If not with changing my CO2, he has a loud mouth, or at least louder than mine, an loud enough to tell Ryan that my CO2 is out and to stop shootin’ at me. When he approached, he lloked at me like ‘What?’ and said, "Are you out!"

Ya! And so is my CO2! "Ya. My CO2 is out," I began and, pointing to Ryan, I finished, "and Jeremiah told me to go to Ryan to get it changed."

"Oh!" Ryan wasn’t shooting at us enough or was so far off, that we either didn’t notice or didn’t care. Justin was trying to help me change my CO2 when Ryan started shooting at us again.

"Stop! STOP! We’ve been hit!" Well, I guess I was right about his loud mouth. Ryan walked towards us and, when he was in talking distance, he said, "Are you guys out?"

"Ya, I got hit three times," I said

"Really? Sorry," he said.

I started to explain the situation—slowly, but surely—when Justin took over, and said, "I wasn’t. I was helping her change her CO2 because Jeremiah told her to go to you to get it changed. And it’s kinda hard when you’re not on our team and you’re shootin’ at us." I just stood there agreeing with him.

"Oh," he chuckled, "Sorry." I think he had said that he had gotten out just after he hit me and was still shooting at people.

The game didn’t last much longer. Jeremiah went to get Megan, who still had not come back. When he came back with her, we were still discussing the game.

"It helps if the person you tell me to go to, to get my CO2 changed, is on my team," I said to Jeremiah.

"Oh," he said. I don’t think he heard me, and was probably replying to what someone else had said that I hadn’t heard. I didn’t have to worry about that because Justin told him all the main details. I went over to where Megan and Sam were standing and told Megan about it. Jeremiah tried to change the CO2 and wasted about three of them.

We started a new game. We were going to play the same way we did last time, only this time we would have two medics.

Megan and I were going to be medics until Sam said that she would be a medic if Megan didn’t want to. "But if I get hit, you’re in trouble!" Sam said to everybody.

"If they hit you, you can line ‘em up in a row and shoot at ‘em." Jeremiah suggested quietly to her.

"Ya, and keep shootin’ at them a whole bunch of times and then beat ‘em up." She agreed just as quietly. They decided that the medics would hide in the fort—which we had to occupy.

Right after that, Ryan held out his gun to me and said, "You can use mine if you want to, and I’ll be a medic. Thank you! You’re awesome. I’d love to play, but it’s up to you; it’s your gun.

"I don’t care," I said, "If you wanted to play, you can. It doesn’t matter to me." We switched the goggles I had on for his mask so the medics would have matching eyewear. Since I was the only other person besides Sam that had a bandanna on, he wore the one I had borrowed from her. They needed to be identified as medics (There were other people with goggles on and even if there hadn’t been, the goggles were tough to see from far away and weren’t very identifiable). We were teamed up (and not by stupid sticks this time!): Bobby, Megan, and I against Jeremiah and Justin.

"Okay, now how to you work this thing?" I asked.

Someone had started explaining it to me, when Ryan butted in and, pointing to a red button-like switch said, "This is your safety. Make sure you can see the red before you shoot. The red means the safety’s off. And when you want to shoot, pull this back," and he pointed to the trigger. Figures. Ryan’s not on my team, again. At least I have a bigger CO2 cartridge this time; it’s like ten or twenty times bigger. And if I do happen to need it changed, he’s not on a team and I can go to him for help.

Jeremiah and Justin guarded the fort while out team spread out. When we were spread out enough, we discussed out plan. Bobby said, "Megan, you make a large U-turn that way to the side of the fort," as he pointed to the right. "Katie, you make a large U-turn that way to the other side of the fort," and he pointed to his left, "and I’ll make a small U-turn and come in on the front of it." What? Which way? He obviously saw that we were confused, so we walked a few steps and he showed us with dirt and sticks what he wanted us to do. "This," he said, pointing to the diagram he had just made, "is the way the fort is facing out there," and he pointed toward the fort. "Megan, you go around this way," he pointed to his right, "Katie, you go around this way," he pointed to his left, "and I’ll come in through the front," he pointed to the front of the fort. Each time he pointed where we were to go, he showed us on the diagram.

"So, I’m looking at it like this, and this is the way the fort’s really facing?" Megan asked.

"Yes," Bobby answered. "Now, start walking and take about two minutes to get there."

I started walking toward where he told me to go, counting while I did so. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi. I kept walking and lost count. Oh, shoot! Has it been two minutes yet? Just then, Justin shot me, once, then twice, and walked away, making a circle around me. I had thought that he was on my team and that it had been somebody else who shot me, so I didn’t bother shooting him back. What do I do? I had also thought that you could only get "healed" by the medics if you were only shot once. I was walking back, slowly, toward the fort (and the medics). When I got there, I just stood there.

When I saw Ryan looking at me like ‘What?’ I finally said, "I’m out." When he still had that look on his face, I explained myself a little bit farther, "I was hit twice."

"You’re supposed to call ‘medic’ when you’re hit," Sam said, sitting farther in, in the fort.

"Here," Ryan said, holding out his hand, "I’ll touch you. Unless you don’t wanna go back out there and just wanna be out," he said, smiling like he was going to chuckle. We ‘slapped’ each other’s arms, and I started to walk away. But was I already out? Now what do I do? I kept walking, slowly and spotted Justin. I still wasn’t sure if he was on my team, so I didn’t shoot at him. He thought I was out (or knew I was), or didn’t see me, so he didn’t shoot at me. That’s another reason why I didn’t shoot at him; he thought (knew) I was out, and I didn’t want him to "yell" at me for that either. Not too much later, the round was over, and we were back to out usual, talking about the game.

"You guys can’t be that close to the fort because your shots hit it and splatter on us. I almost got hit by one," Sam complained.

"Okay," Jeremiah started, "Let’s play one last game."

"No," someone started, "Let’s go swimming."

"Anybody who wants to go swimming can walk back and go swimming, and whoever wants to play one more round of paintball, can," he said to all of us.

We all ended up staying, but we still really wanted to go swimming. I didn’t care either way. I was going with Megan wherever she went. I wanted to go swimming but would’ve rather played one more round of paintball because: 1) they were already going to play so "What’s one more round?" 2) Swimming would be no fun without them, and 3) I didn’t want to walk any more than I had to. We played out last round "all-for-all" just to use up our paintball, so, once you run out or them, you’re out; no hit limit. Sam and I were going to be the medics. Ryan took off the bandanna he was wearing and, "Hope you don’t mind a little sweat," he chuckled.

"Nope, and I hope you didn’t either," I giggled. I started to put it on when Megan said that she was going to be a medic. I took it off, happy that I was getting to play again. I gave Ryan his mask back, and I somehow ended up with Sam’s mask which was shorter—Ryan’s came down passed my chin, and Sam’s just covered it, so when I tilted my head up a little, it cam up past my chin. It was also a little big for me. Megan and Sam informed me that I was wearing it the wrong way, and it was supposed to go around the upper part of the back of my head and not the lower part. I felt stupid and did what they said; it was still a little big to they tightened it for me. Just before we were ready to play, I looked in the fort through a crack, at Megan. "You got the special bandanna," I said, quiet enough so nobody except Megan could hear me—not even Sam who, though wasn’t paying much, if any attention to us at the time, was sitting right next to her.

"Hey," Justin said to me, "Wanna team up?"

"Sure," I replied.

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