May Bloom: “Peace Arms”

A belated thank you to Herman M. for inspiring this month’s flash fiction story.
Herman owned a jewelry business where my parents became regular customers, as did I when I became an adult.
I remain haunted by Herman’s experience during a 1992 robbery attempt at his store. Here’s a link to one news article about the event.

"Peace Arms "

Randall’s family, friends, and customers expressed empathy and encouragement after the incident. “You had no choice; it was him or you.” “Thank God you had protection.” “You’ll get past this in time.” He didn’t. Post the shooting, Randall had a recurring nightmare in which pellets pummeled him and flames engulfed him before he awoke to the dawn of another day. A robbery attempt at his store had forced a lethal choice – take out ‘the him’ or be taken out.

He dwelled on what he had in common with the deceased after reading his obituary. Both returned to their hometowns after serving the nation. Both married their high school sweethearts. But while Randall had built a small jewelry business, ‘the him’ had succumbed to untreated madness before randomly choosing Randall’s store to wield a weapon.

Ten months after being cleared of culpability, Randall still wallowed in web streams, newscasts, and talk shows about mounting body counts in schools, rapid fire madness on streets, and rights to self-protection within private spaces. He found no solutions and no solace.

One night, an outrageous vision replaced Randall’s relentless nightmare. He shared it over dinner with close friends. Randall said to them, “What if we design auxiliary arsenal replenishments, ARs, we’d call them, for cases that don’t warrant typical weaponry? What if we outfit our ARs with flying doves instead of flying bullets? What if we market them as Peace Arms?” Everyone expressed opinions and exchanged experiences, then agreed to help.

Randall’s children posted updates about the progress of Peace Arms that attracted attention from weapon manufacturers, law officials, and reporters. Weapon manufacturers committed to prototyping and producing ARs with Peace Arm features. Law officials upped their budgets to update training and target practice for the new devices. Health field workers, community groups, and educators promoted them through their networks. Students delivered free public workshops on how to use Peace Arms. “Pull out the device carefully, push the lever lovingly, and propel the doves directly at your target to unleash calm.”