Saturday Night Special

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It's Saturday, and midnight is fast approaching. We've got to get to Milpitas before the clock strikes 12.

No, I'm not Cinderella, and this is no fairy tale.

It's the true story of four Daily Cal staffers, one birthday and a Glock 9 mm handgun.

10:35 p.m.

Paul's phone rings.

"What the hell do you mean you're at Blockbuster?"

It's Nate. He's in a world of anger.

"Relax dude. Nothing is fucked," Paul says.

Nate and Virginia are waiting for Paul and me at my apartment.

I don't want to leave empty-handed so I grab "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigalow." Paul hasn't seen it, but I assure him it's a classic.

Back in Nate's car, we hear it.

"I hope you know this means we're not going to have time to shoot," he says.

I act like this isn't directed at me. I'm off the hook when Virginia's pants split down the side, exposing her upper hip.

"Goddamnit. I need a safety pin. We need to stop," she says.

This drives Nate further up the wall. We don't stop. Virginia has to tie her sweater around her waist.

It's 11 p.m., and we're flying down Interstate 880 as fast as Nate's 1983 Volvo 240 DL will take us.

"So what should we get-handgun, rifle? I'm thinking semi-automatic shotgun," Nate says.

It's Paul's birthday in one hour. Maybe for the occasion or maybe just for the hell of it we decided to go to Target Masters, a late-night shooting range in Milpitas.

I've never shot a gun before today. I once went hunting in the backwoods of Idaho with a pellet gun, but I don't think that counts. Although the guy I was with did kill a chipmunk, so there is that.

We arrive in Milpitas at 11:40. The range closes at 12. Things may be fucked.

A guy wearing a camouflage hat opens the door. He's pretty pissed off, but he lets us in anyway.

For some reason the first thing I notice when I walk in is a stuffed raccoon on top of the vending machine. It's posed like someone is shining a flashlight at it. Eerie.

Target Masters is also a gift shop. Paul points out a t-shirt with the Statue of Liberty on it, under the heading "United We Stand." Lady Liberty has a .357 Magnum holstered under her armpit. We all laugh. Nervously.

Paul and Virginia don't want to pay full price for just fifteen minutes, so it's just Nate and me. We decide to rent a handgun.

"Ease of use? Functionality? Accuracy?"

A short, fat woman behind the counter just asked us what I think was a question about guns.

Knowing nothing about guns but guessing the answer was one of the above, I choose functionality.

"Glock," she says.

She takes a black handgun off the wall and puts it on the counter.

"Ten-round clip. Load it like this. Safety is on the trigger," she says.

I'm itching to get started, so I don't pay attention to what she's saying.

I sign a form saying I've never taken a gun safety class and that I'm not depressed. Then I hand over my driver's license and car keys.

I shoot first, unleashing 10 rounds of Freudian fury on the bull's-eye target-"Pop. Pop. Pop." Damn that feels good.

Pressing the retrieval button, I bring the target back toward me. Three holes in the inner black. This confirms it. I am a bad man.

While Nate shoots I check out the people next to us. A guy is teaching a 12-year-old kid how to shoot. They're using one of those targets that looks like a person.

"Aim for the center of the body. This is combat shooting."

The kid looks like he's having a good time, bonding with his Dad.

After three chances in front of the target, our time is up.

Outside, Paul and Virginia have a cigarette. It's 12 o'clock. Paul just turned 21.

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