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pm 7:09 Sunday 8 February 2004

My stepfather, for his part, was still on a campaign to make me say, "Yes, Sir," and "No, Sir," to everything he said, and in exasperation, my mother took me aside and asked me to pretend. So I did.

And soon I was supposed to say, "Yes, Ma'am," and "No, Ma'am," to Mom, and the maids were supposed to call them "Mister Jimmy" and "Miss June." And they did.

That was the order of things.

So in this context I arrived home from summer camp in 1954 and without thinking about it, really, asked mom if I could go to a rifle range and experiment with target counterweights.

"You don't know anything about guns," Mister Jimmy sneered from the other side of the table.

"You're kidding!" I said.

Say, "Yes, Sir!"

"Listen," I began ...

"You don't know the first thing about guns," he interrupted me.

"You know, up in my room I have a Certificate of Safety from the National Rifle Association, three more certificates and three medals. I'm a Junior Marksman, a Marksman 2nd Class, and a Marksman!"

"You don't know the first thing about guns," he repeated more forcefully, who, after all, had been a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy, and knew how to give orders!

I couldn't believe he was saying this, disputing tangible evidence in my own room, where I also had the arrow I had feathered and painted, three lanyards, and the black tin cup from metal working shop.

 
 
 

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