Farooq stood five feet from the counter. Beneath the glass were handguns of all kinds, caliber, and color. Nearly every gun but the Ruger 22. He was hesitant to ask the cashier again, so he checked his watch, and like every one else at the gun-shop that Saturday night, tried hard to not look anxious.
It was a busy night. The store had taken out an ad in the local paper, and droves of shooters turned out to use the range and rental services of the shop. Many first-timers. The line to register was nearly out the door with a 30 minute wait to shoot once payment, waiver, and identification were processed. Farooq had a longer wait than most.
“I’m sorry sir. The Ruger is still out on the range. As soon as it comes back, you’re up. Appreciate your patience. Unless you want to shoot another gun,” Farooq heard from the cashier as he watched neo-hipsters, their fingers itching with irony and bachelor-party celebrants struggling to feign sobriety pass him in line and onto the range.
“Thank you. No,” Farooq replied each time, “I came to fire the Ruger. I will wait for it.”
And he waited.
One hour, and two more inquires later, the Ruger 22 was still notably absent from its spot among the guns for rent. Other guns went out, were fired, returned, cleaned, and sent back out again. But never the Ruger 22.
But Farooq was patient. The cashier didn’t seem to him like the type of American from whom he normally gets trouble. Farooq had to rent guns frequently from these places solely because his family name prevented his buying a pistol of his own. He found these shop owners and employees to be quite sympathetic, if at least to the universal color of a dollar.
Eventually the crowd grew thinner. Farooq stood back as the last customer in line leaned at the counter, carrying on a dispute with the cashier.
“No, I’m sorry. We can’t let you shoot tonight,” the cashier said to the man. The cashier was tired and obviously irritated from the long, busy night of people coming and going.
A nicely dressed woman appeared from an office around the corner from where they stacked boxes of retail ammunition. Farooq assumed this was the cashier’s relief and felt he should inquire again. Maybe he had simply been overlooked in the chaos of the evening.
“Yes, can I help you?” the woman politely asked Farooq. She appeared to be the manager.
“No,” the cashier continued to state firmly to the man. The man wore rings full of turquoise and spurs like cactus needles. He too was full of patience.
“The Ruger 22? Yes, here it is.” the manager smiled and placed a clean and ready pistol in a box. She handed it to Farooq.
“It’s policy,” the cashier insisted to the man, “without a state-issued I.D, we can not let you in.” The cashier had grown more tired. He was operating of a level of automation, bordering the robotic, and he barely nodded to Farooq as he walked past.
Farooq continued down the range that night where he shot over one hundred rounds into paper targets, not keeping score of this nor that