Lock and Load! 

Bored on a rainy Saturday afternoon, you take the Yellow Line MAX to its last stop—the Expo Center. A large sign advertises two shows that are happening simultaneously: the 32nd Annual Portland Gun and Knife Show, and next door, the Cat Fanciers' Association Cat Show.

You stare, torn. What to do, what to do!

Last chance to go to the cat show! Click here!.
•If you decide to stick with the gun show, keep reading...

You pay your eight dollars, get wanded by the security guards, and you're in! Welcome to the 32nd Annual Portland Gun and Knife Show! The cavernous Expo Center is filled with row after row of freedom-loving Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights. Three fourth graders whiz by you with plastic M16s—those crazy scamps!

You stroll past booth after booth of Glocks, Tek-9s, bulletproof vests, semi-automatics, and inactive hand grenades. You come across a booth of miscellaneous trinkets that might make a good souvenir for this crazy day.

"See anything you like?" the crusty old geezer asks you from behind the booth.

Your eyes gaze out over the mother-of-pearl switchblades, Lake Oswego police badges, and burglary-style ski masks before landing on the beautiful shiny object of your desire.

"That's a pretty sweet gun," you say.

The gun is smooth, metallic, and shiny, with strange blinking lights along the handle. It throbs slightly, as if alive. It looks like something from another world....

"Ah yes, she's special, that one," winks the obese man from under his camouflage ball cap. "Name's Smitty," he says, offering his right hand, which is actually not a hand, but two rusty hooks, which Smitty snaps together rapidly with an elaborate system of rubber bands. With his other, he clutches a bottle of half-full Old Crow. He takes a swig from it and waves the hooks around, clicking for a shake. You gingerly pinch the end with two fingers.

"Great to meet you," says Smitty. "Would you like to hear more about that gun there?"

You stare at the weapon, mouth open. You stroke its silky shaft.

"I think I would," you whisper.

"Well, all right then," says Smitty. "Follow me."

Abruptly, the old man rises from his seat and lurches toward the back end of the exposition hall. An odor of booze and fried foods wafts in the air behind him. You stare after him, remembering finally to close your drooling maw.

If you want to follow Smitty and learn about the precious gun, click here.

• If you're, by now, pretty creeped out by Smitty and just want to keep perusing the gun show, keep reading...

Moving along, you think to yourself, "If people weren't prone to violent thoughts before coming to the gun show, they sure get all riled up once they're here." Nearby, a pimply guy in his 20s wearing a T-shirt with the sleeves cut off picks up a replica of Aragorn's sword from Lord of the Rings.

"Those are the good ones," says the skinny man behind the booth. "Not the shitty ones from Pakistan. Half off."

The young man with shaved armpits begins to move the four-foot sword around slowly, in an attempt to feign knowledge and experience in handling gigantic elf weapons. He suddenly turns to his friend.

"What if I just hit you in the head with this as hard as I could?"

Before the Gandalf of Gresham gets any more bright ideas, you head off to explore more of the show.

By this point, the guns have become the least interesting items here. You've seen everything from old ladies to little boys strapping Uzis, after which, a table full of nine millimeters looks flat boring. What interests you more are the tables of accessories for these gun-lovin' freaks, particularly the T-shirt and book booths.

CLICK CLICK CLICK!!

A pair of rusty, stinky hooks rapidly clicks in front of your face. You jump.

"Snap out it!" barks your friend Smitty, swaying slightly on his feet. You notice his bottle of Old Crow has gone down several inches.

"I thought we was gonna go to the back hallway an' talk about that gun,'" he says, using a good hand and the hooks to form quotation marks in the air. "You comin' or not!?"

You stare at him, more disturbed than ever. And yet, still, something about this spittle-spewing, cockeyed old fuck intrigues you...

• If you finally decide to go with Smitty, click here.

• If you're still just too creeped out and want to visit the book booth instead, keep reading... pussy.

Wow. You've never seen books like this at the Barnes & Noble before. Instead of shiny covers with photographs on them, all they have are slim volumes with cardstock binding and ink drawings on front. There's so much information here, you can't begin to absorb it all. You grab books off the table indiscriminately, then walk up to the vendor with your Visa in hand.

"Credit card?" the woman asks, as if you've tried to pay for the books with your Safeway card. "Let me guess, this is your first dance at the rodeo."

"Ex-excuse me," you stammer.

"Nevermind. But all we take is cash," she tells you. "Let's see what you've got here: How to Bury Your Goods, The Freedom Outlaw's Handbook, Techniques of Secret Warfare, How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found, and Prison Killing Techniques. Pretty good selection, kid. But I'm thinking with that credit card in your hand, maybe you should pick up Under the Table and Into Your Pocket. It's over there in the underground economy section."

At this point, an announcer reports that the gun show is coming to a close, and it's time to clear out of the Expo Center. You turn around for one farewell glance at this treasure chest of an event.

"How lucky I am," you think. "I came here looking for buck urine and duck calls for my next hunting trip, and instead, I'm walking away with a new perspective on life. I'm so glad I didn't go with that crazy old man on some weird adventure I might have somehow dictated through my own choices!"

CLICK CLICK CLICK!!

A pair of shining hooks once again flashes, this time latching onto your neck.

"I done told you we was going out to the back hallway," a familiar voice whispers menacingly.

Sorry. You're going with Smitty whether you like it or not. Click here, already!

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