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Guns and Dogs ... or Dogs and Guns by Samuel Vargo

Dogs and guns. Guns and dogs. That’s all the man talks about. He’s an encyclopedia of guns and dogs. I try not to pay any attention to him, but he always bums cigarettes from me. Before he does, he always breaks into the charity spiel with a fiery oral harangue on guns and dogs. . . .

His arms are moving around like the firing mechanisms on an automatic rifle. His jaws are snapping open and closed like the rat-a-tat-tatting of an M-16 machine gun. He’s screaming like Hitler. His eyes are as weird and as crazy as Hitler’s beady little optic organs, too.

Yeah, he’s talking about guns and dogs again. . . Or dogs and guns. . . .But since I’ve got nothing better to do all day, sometimes I listen to his banter.

“Can I have a cigarette?” he says, calmly. What a change. Like a light switch flicked off. So I hand him a cigarette and he gives no acknowledgement of this kindness.

I know this man from the under-the-bridge club I belong to. Some of us are retired from the Navy, some of even got thrown out of the Navy, while still others were never in the Navy, or any other branch of the U.S. Armed Services, for that matter.

But we sit around this stinking alley most days, playing cards. We don’t play for money. The cards are just some window dressing for our deep conversations – most of which center on solving all the problems of the world. And of course, Mr. Dogs and Guns’ focus on world change has everything to do with guns and dogs. Or dogs and guns. Whatever. Rah-rah to the NRA. Another rah-rah to the Second Amendment. Some more rah-rahs to the red, white and blue (with a big emphasis on RED).

Mr. Dogs and Guns was never in the Navy. He spent his whole life shooting off guns in the junkyard his family owns. He shoots rats. And cans. Aluminum cans, that is. Empty booze bottles are also fair game, as well as bloated, tightly-tied garbage bags impregnated with gases from lying all day in the blazing heat of the sun.

He likes hot dogs, too. And when I say hot dogs, I mean dogs that are bred hot and nasty. He’s got a pit bull and an American bulldog. They’re both meaner than hell. They come from a long lineage of hot-tempered, frothing-at-the-mouth, pit-fighting canines. He says he loves those animals almost as much as he loves his guns. Holy Winchester! I hope he takes care of his guns better than his dogs. He keeps the purebred mutts tied down in his backyard on long chains so thick they could be used to harbor battleships and destroyers. He doesn’t have money for generic cigarettes. Where in the hell does he get cash to buy dog food? Maybe he feeds them dead rats he shoots at the dump.

His gun collection includes a .357 magnum; a .45 caliber; a twenty-odd-six widow- and orphan-maker; a duo of double-barrel shotguns (one full length and one sawed off); two handsome, highly-polished, chrome derringers; a pearl-handled, long-barreled six shooter; a semi-automatic that spits out lead faster than the auctioneer at the gun show spits out words (he bought the damned thing at some event dubbed ‘THE EVERY GUN UNDER THE SUN SALE); and last but not least, an Uzi that sprays lead in a heavy stream of voracious violence.

Besides the fact that normal, everyday people like him are not legally allowed to own even a humble little peashooter, let alone some of his extremely ugly weapons (he’s been to prison a few times for some pretty violent acts), he’s a Second Amendment thumper who says it’s his God-given right as a U.S. citizen to own firearms.

“I’d like to see the Congressman or Senator who takes these guns from me!” he screams in one of his rabid tirades, “I’ll shoot him deader than Lee Harvey, yes I will! You bet I will!”

In the United States, it’s illegal for convicted felons to own guns, that’s what I understand. I don’t know all the particulars, but that’s the gist of it. And those Uzis, well, they’re just not allowed to be owned by anyone, really. Of course, there probably are a few exceptions, you know how the laws are; but I know Mr. Dogs and Guns isn’t allowed any of them. A judge told him he wasn’t allowed to be near a gun, as a matter of fact.

But maybe he can own a squirt gun – but knowing him, he’d find a way to make it into something vile and nasty, like a pipe bomb, Molotov cocktail, or some device of terrorism that hasn’t even been thought of yet. I’m sure the guy in the long black dress knows about this and has been forewarned. Somewhere in Mr. Dogs and Guns legal papers, there’s got to be a clause disallowing him to purchase even such a water-dispensing device.



Sam Vargo has written poetry and short stories for print and online literary magazines, university journals and a few commercial magazines. Mr. Vargo worked most of his adult life as a newspaper reporter. He has a BA in Political Science and an MA in English (both degrees were awarded by Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, USA). Vargo was fiction editor of Pig Iron Press, Youngstown, Ohio, for 12 years.