Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Books and boomsticks and memories...

Getting my nose out of social media so much by removing the Facebook app from my phone and iPad has definitely upped my reading. Sitting and reading fifty or a hundred pages at a stretch is a task that requires exactly the sort of extended focus that social media does not. (In fact, constant swimming in the fragmented world of social media, a world of short Tweets, Instagram photos with quickie captions, and two-minute YouTube videos may negatively affect the ability to concentrate like that.)

Anyway, I finished The Vampire Lestat on Friday and then plowed through Queen of the Damned over the weekend.

I'd forgotten what a good story the first three books of this series were. Cracking good stuff, back before Anne Rice fell down her own belly button with all the subsequent books. After these three it was just more and more words about less and less story, but I can't blame her for riding the cash cow until its legs give out.

Yesterday evening, I put down Queen of the Damned, and picked up The Dogs of War, by Frederick Forsyth. It will only be my second time reading it, with the first back in 2006.

I opened the book, and something fell out that got me all verklempt right there on the front porch...

Ralph was a kindly old gentleman who was something of a mentor. He always had a few tables at the gun shows in Knoxville and dealt in nicer collectible stuff: Old Smiths & Colts, Brownings, classic sporting arms like pre-'64 Winchesters, Lugers and Mausers, that sort of thing. He was a frequent visitor at the shops where I worked in Knoxville, since Shannon did all his gunsmithing and wherever Shannon wound up working, Ralph's patronage followed.

I've been working in and around the gun biz in one capacity or another since 1993, and literally my proudest moment in all that time was the afternoon when Ralph called me with a question on some bit of Smith & Wesson arcana or another.

Ralph passed away not too long after I moved up to Indianapolis, and I'll always miss chatting with him at gun shows.