I avoid downtown like Superman does kryptonite, especially when there’s an event in town. During the dog days of summer I was informed by the G-man that if I was going to recover the machine gun that had been stolen from me some two decades prior I’d have to drive down to the part of the city where the buildings scrape the heavens and a lot of folks talk to themselves.
Now I’m no criminal, but I’ve figured out that it helps not to look like one… especially when you’re going to retrieve a stolen machine gun. I dropped by the house and threw on some respectable type clothes and conned my youngest into going with me.
Traffic was brutal. It didn’t add up since there was no baseball game until we finally reached the one-way streets. If downtown puts me on red alert naturally, then the color to describe my state of consciousness, being there smack in the middle of Comic-con, would have to be something beyond Technicolor.
It was like grown up Halloween on steroids down there. It would have felt more like a city in a Star Wars universe if it weren’t for the lack of parking spaces and overpriced parking meters flanking ancient sidewalks.
When we finally reached the skyscraper we were sweating like horses on the last lap at Belmont. I searched the kiosk for the government agency that the G-man told me he represented to no avail. When I asked the two ladies behind the massive desk if they knew where that particular government office was, their demeanor changed like summer does to winter, only instantly.
The third degree began; Who was I? Who is it I was trying to reach? Did I have an appointment? Finally, I was ordered to wait while the lady with the brown eyes that had me covered like a double-barreled shot-gun talked to someone on the phone.
I’m not one for waiting, especially under those circumstances, so I called the G-man myself on his cell and asked him if he’d given me the wrong address. A few minutes later the middle set of elevators opened and amidst the herd of folks was a stocky Asian man casually dressed and a shaved-headed young man with tattoos covering every inch of his body. His shifty eyes gave me the creeps as I moved my daughter behind me.
Just like a bad movie, it was those two that flashed me their badges. They made sure that we, including my barely seventeen-year-old daughter, weren’t carrying any deadly weapons before ascending back up the elevators to get locked inside a room to show ID, sign papers, and finally retrieve my gun.
I tend to forget how fallen and dangerous this world really is and how much grace I continuously receive under the protective hand of God. Those young men have been trained for the ugly side of this world that goes largely unseen by the majority of us.
We walked briskly with the white box labeled “Fresno Police Gun Box” turned in toward my side until we reached the expired parking meter, my eyes still shifting like the tainted G-man.
“That was weird, huh, dad?” my daughter asked.
“Sure was, babe… like something right out of The Twilight Zone,” I answered.