Saturday, September 12, 2009
The Flare Gun
By Ohio law, any boat over sixteen feet is required to have a flare gun aboard. My canoe is only thirteen feet long, but I purchased a flare gun just the same. The expense was way more than I was willing to part with, but by my logic, who could put an accurate price on my life?
I have a wife and two kids who relied on the money I bring in to insure that they have a good life. Should my life be extinguished in a freak canoe accident, they are out quite a bit of money, not to mention that my kids grow up without a father and my wife will enter the dating market. Both of these I find distasteful, not to mention that I am dead. To prevent this, the forty dollars I spent on a flare gun seemed nominal.
If the flare gun itself had been only forty dollars, I would have felt cheated, but it came with a bright orange waterproof case, and a water dye pack in lime green to signal our distress to the Coast Guard. It also included two whistles that were less than a quarter of an inch thick and an inch and a half long. These were to call the attention of our rescuers when they were within hearing distance. Initially I scoffed at the whistles until Lucy got one between her lips and deafened the neighbors for six blocks. After that, I changed my position and attached one to each life vest, just in case. I have heard small bombs that were quieter.
When I was unpacking after the trip, my brother-in-law noticed the emergency orange box and asked about it. "It's for the flare gun," I told him. "Does it work?" he asked. "I don't know," I admitted.
His jaw dropped and I have never seen his face strike this position before.
"You mean to tell me that you brought this thing along, carted it over hell and gone and never tried it?" He asked incredulously.
With more than a little shame, I admitted that he was right. I had made the cardinal mistake of not checking my equipment before taking it on a long journey. How could I have been so stupid?
In my defence, I wasn't that stupid. The instructions that came with the flair gun warned that there were severe penalties for firing it off when there was no real emergency. I took these warnings to heart. I was tempted to try it out the day I brought it home, but I live in a residential neighborhood about a half mile from the freeway so it was pretty likely someone would have noticed.
The other night I staid up late writing on the computer and the cold beers kept evaporating quickly until I had lost enough of my good sense that I thought firing it off might be a good idea. Much like gunshots, it takes two to really figure out where it's coming from and somewhere in the neighborhood, some boob was setting off the last of their leftover fireworks.
"Perfect," I giggled to my drunken self as I loaded up the four inch 12 gauge shell into the chamber, " no one's going to notice this!" I stepped out my back door, aimed it straight up and cocked the heavy hammer. I gave the trigger a gentle squeeze.
The glow of the flare was mildly unimpressive as well as the zenith of it's height. The noise however was enough to deafen me in my right ear for an hour. I have at one time or another fired many different kinds of firearms, rifles, shotguns, large caliber pistols, etc., but while this baby packed all the kick of a BB gun, it went off with the roar of artillery.
I hurried inside and put the flare gun away before the Law was called on my dumb ass. I had another beer and played a few games of Solitaire on the computer as iTunes and Youtube would have been lost on me.