Anyone who has seen the movie “A Christmas Story” based on a story by Jean Shepherd will recognize that statement as the argument used by everyone in authority when Ralphie (Peter Billingsey) wanted a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. It is a great movie, a classic that I watch every Christmas and enjoy it every time.
A few years after we acquired our Red Ryder BB Guns we upped the anti and acquired Hahn CO2 gas BB pistols styled like a real 1873 Colt Peacemaker.
Wow! Not only was it real looking, except for the CO2 cylinder under the barrel, but it shot BBs too! And it was a repeater! Cock the hammer, and the cylinder rotated bringing around a chamber with a fresh BB in line with the barrel! Way cool!
My best friend, Mike (Buck) Roy, and I both had one of these along with genuine-looking buscadero holster rigs. We were in high cotton then!
And headed for trouble.
Buck accompanied my family and me to our summerhouse in Waveland, Mississippi one weekend, and of course, our Hahn Peacemakers made the trip with us.
The house was back off the beach behind the railroad tracks and surrounded by piney woods. It was a veritable heaven for kids with BB guns. Saturday morning Buck and I strapped on our shootin’ irons, loaded them with a fresh CO2 cylinder and filled the magazine with BBs. And we headed for the woods to subdue some rustlers—or something.
We made our way through the woods quick drawing and picking off various varmints who presented themselves as targets of opportunity, tin cans, clumps of dirt, small pools of water, wayward crawfish, birds, etc., and eventually ended up at the railroad tracks.
There was a nice little creek that went under the tracks through a culvert big enough we could walk through only slightly stooped over. Buck positioned himself on one end of the culvert, and I was on the other. And we commenced to have a shootout.
Now, we weren’t shooting at each other but “aiming,” if you can call it that, at the water making splashes like real bullets striking nearby.
This was not really a good idea, and subsequent events proved the truth of that.
Suddenly, Buck quit shooting at me. I peaked down the culvert and only his feet were visible, and he appeared to be lying down.
I ran across the tracks and found Buck face down in the dirt. When I approached he rolled over and thumbed the hammer back on his Peacemaker and pointed it at me. “You shot me!”
I thought he was going to shoot me, and maybe he should have. I had hit him in the eyebrow just above his eye! We weren’t sure if it was a direct hit or a ricochet off the water. Either way, I almost shot his eye out!
We made up and decided that game was beyond stupid and probably should be discontinued. As we were walking back to the house, Buck was poking at his wounded eyebrow. “You know, Lane, I think the BB is still in there.”
“Lemme see.” I looked real close while pulling at the wounded area and sure enough, I see copper in the wound! The BB is lodged just under the skin! “Oh crap!”
“What? Is it in there?”
“What do we do now?”
“What any cowboy would do when his partner has been shot. Dig the bullet out!”
“Are you nuts?”
I probably was, but so was Buck, because he agreed the “bullet” had to come out. Fortunately, I had a small pocketknife, but the blade was too large for this surgical procedure. I used it to sharpen a stick to a point and dug it out with that. I forgot to make Buck bite on a belt to keep him from screaming out in pain. He did, however, limit his cries to a brief string of profanity directed at me.
Bullet out, we had another problem: just how do we explain the “bullet wound” to my dad? We concocted a story that Buck ran into a sharp branch that poked him there. It was, after all, true, except I was directing the sharp branch. MB never noticed nor asked, so we escaped being disarmed.
I still have my Hahn Colt Peacemaker, and Buck still has the scar.
The picture is of Buck (on the right) and me about five years after the Great RR Gunfight. He was my partner-in-crime for most of the misadventures of my misspent youth.