Bessie waited impatiently as the paper target neared her, carried along by the antiquated, creaky rope pulley-system. Meanwhile, a twisting plume of grey-coloured smoke wisped out slowly from the barrel of an H&K semi automatic Universelle Selbstladepistole Elite 45, left abandoned on the counter top before her.
As the light bulb overhanging her shooting booth flickered briefly, she heard movement coming from behind.
“Do you think – perhaps – that you might need glasses?” A male voice rang out into the desolate aural soundscape.
Startled, Bessie spun around aggressively, to find herself staring directly into the rich brown-coloured eyes of a man several units of measurement taller than herself. The stranger had a kindly face. Immediately, she believed his words of wisdom had emerged from an altruistic place, quite probably released from deep within his velvety heart.
“Why thank you. I will bear that in mind when I visit my ophthalmologist.” Bessie noticed a name tag, clipped to the man’s trouser belt, “Maynard – is that your first name, or your surname? I only ask, because while at school I had a drama teacher called Miss Maynard, a man-hating homosexual woman who propagated a deep dislike of me. This, on account of my super-high popularity rating amongst her male teacher colleagues.”
Triggered and overwhelmed with emotion, Bessie spun back around on the same spot, drawing a dainty handkerchief from her sleeve as she did so. For reasons of comfort, she held the silken material close to her lips.
“My name is Maynard,” the man said calmly, “Maynard, Aloysius Braun. Originally, I herald from Munich in Upper Bavaria, located in the former West Germany.”
Staring through the wildly off-aim bullet holes she knew herself responsible for in the paper target, Bessie found her interest piqued. “Really? Well, may I ask, what brought you to this fair isle?”
“Ah-well, this is easy to explain.” The man known as Maynard Aloysius Braun placed a large-sized, reassuring palm down onto Bessie’s shoulder. “You see, I come from a long family line of shooting range business owners.” As he spoke, he allowed his fingers to squeeze Bessie’s trapezius muscle, delicately. “With my father, my grandfather and before this my great grandmother, it is the case that my ancestral heritage is much entwined with the military.”
What was that? Bessie thought. Her attention had drifted as the German had been speaking. Suddenly, it had unceremoniously and abruptly been brought back. Had she heard the heels of Maynard’s high-top leather boots click together? She couldn’t be certain, not without asking him to click his heels together, thus enabling a reasonable comparison. This, she concluded, was an unreasonable request.
“To tie the ends up satisfactorily,” the shooting professional continued, “I can tell you that last year, I came here. Yes, I spent the New Year’s Eve out there on the western tip of the island at Wayward Point. There, underneath the trees, I had joined with a group of people I had not met before. We sat around a campfire, singing, frolicking and drinking merrily late into the night.”
“And it was then, that you decided to make this place home?” Bessie watched, as the joyful memory faded away, leaving the Bavarian’s complexion a pallid blue and grey.
“Yes.” Maynard lifted the handgun resting on the counter-top and ejected the empty magazine with aplomb, catching it in his free hand. “I returned home and carried out research using my computer. When I found out about a disused shooting range on the island, I wasted no further time. My offer was accepted and I relocated here, in February of this year.”
“Not realising,” Bessie interjected, “that I am your only neighbour and customer on the island until the summer holidays, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.”
“Correct.” His fingers slipped the shiny bullets into the magazine, one by one until full. In a single swift action, he had reloaded the pistol and pointed the gun handle at Bessie, indicating his desire for her to take it.
“Take it!” He urged her. “Take it!”
As the weight of the gun transferred into Bessie’s hand, Maynard slid his grip to the end of the barrel. Drawing it forward until the opening rested against his forehead, between his eyebrows and above his nose, he unhesitatingly closed his eyes.
“Do it please,” he said, “you can’t miss.”
©Brinkinfield 2021 – A story taken from the Ekphrasis Series