The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Firearms Enthusiast

"Is it the government again?” Mitty asked. It was. • Joe Keohane

e’re going in!” The commander’s voice was like thin ice breaking, as the Blackhawk carrying members of SEAL Team 6 hurtled toward Abbottabad under cover of darkness. Suddenly, there was a crackle of small arms fire from below. Rounds slammed into the side of the chopper. The pilot was killed immediately. Even a hardened crew of warriors couldn’t help but whimper as the bird lurched, but not the commander. He had a job to do. He just grinned and gripped his HK416 assault rifle one-handed and trained his eyes on a lone window in the compound. A light went on. A tall figure, bearded appeared. It was bin Laden. “There you are, you son of a bitch,” the commander growled, drawing a bead dead center on his target’s forehead as the dying chopper plummeted to earth, wreathed in black smoke. “I may be going to hell. But I’m taking you with me!”…
     “What?” said Walter Mitty, the roaring of the great wounded bird fading in the remote airways of his mind.
     “You can’t return this,” said the bored clerk.
     “Bro. You clearly opened it.”
     “I did not!” cried Mitty, training his steely brown eyes on the clerk. The clerk just blinked at him. Mitty flung the 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi DVD across the store and stormed out into the mall.
     Mitty eventually regained his composure in the atrium, carefully controlling his heart rate to steady his hands. He took stock of the sightlines and emergency exits. He studied the faces around him to divine possible terroristic intent. While conducting this routine sweep, his eye fell upon the lovely, dark-haired girl at the cell phone case kiosk. He had learned from his recon missions that her name was Brenda. Brenda. Brenda.
     “Easy there, creepo,” snapped a mall cop, “You’re making that chick nervous.” Mitty muttered an objection and hastily walked away.  He shuffled around the mall aimlessly for a time, but he kept ending up back by the kiosk.
     “… thank God you’re here, Walter,” Brenda said, her cheeks flushed, huddled in a corner surrounded by dozens of whimpering, defenseless shoppers and sobbing mall cops. “I thought we were dead meat. We don’t stand a chance without you.”
     “Is it the government again?” Mitty asked. It was. Mitty had been warning everyone about this on Facebook for years—but did they ever listen? Of course not. And look who’s sorry now. Mitty briefly considered just leaving them there to fend for themselves. It would be a valuable lesson, and of course he would have been well within his rights to do it. But sometimes the world needs a hero, especially these days.
     As the government’s pounding on the mall doors intensified, Mitty scrambled up three escalators and made his way to the roof, gripping his trusty Bravo Company RECCE 16 300 BLK KMR-A Carbine. It was a great weapon. As he rained hell upon the parking lot below, he was reminded of how it’s light weight and large capacity was perfect for this job. As he mowed down the bad guys, Mitty heard cheers from inside the mall.
     But then he heard a scream. It came from behind him. “Walter! Help!” It was Brenda. A bad guy holding a huge knife had her. But Mitty had a surprise for him. Tucked in his belt was an XVR 460 Magnum. One of the most powerful handguns on the planet…
     “Sir, it was an hour and four minutes.”
     “No it wasn’t,” muttered Mitty, frowning at the parking garage attendant. “It was 59 minutes! I know it was!”
     The attendant wouldn’t budge. He scratched his pockmarked face. “Buddy, come on, people are waiting.”
     “It was 59 minutes!”
     “It’s like a fifty cent difference,” said the attendant. “Look, I’ll give it to you. Just, like, get out of here.” Mitty muttered something cutting and gave the man the full $2.50. Then he stepped just hard enough on the gas to make sure everyone was aware of his displeasure. Mitty had somewhere to go, but he couldn’t remember where. All the disrespect had frazzled him.
     …“Perhaps this will refresh your memory.” Bin Laden was back, and his ISIS men had the mall surrounded. Hundreds of defenseless civilians were now at the mercy of the terrorists. And the police were helpless against ISIS’s way better guns. Even Mitty was cornered. Bin Laden handed him a copy of the new bill that made Sharia the law of the land. All he had to do was file it in the mailbox just over there. Bin Laden smirked. “The problem with American men is that you’re too soft,” bin Laden said. “Soft, soft soft…”
     Mitty perked up. “Stool softener!” he said to himself. He was at a red light with the window still down. A car full of teens next to him laughed. “Did that guy just say ‘Stool softener?” one asked. “Yo, this dude just said stool ‘softener!’ What’s up, bro? Are your shits too hard?”
     But Walter Mitty was miles away, back at the mall. What ISIS hadn’t counted on was that he had been preparing for this moment. He had hidden a MAC-10 under Santa’s village, and as he fell to his knees pretending to beg for his life, he grabbed it and unloaded on the terrorists, dodging their bullets and never once hitting a civilian. By the time it was over, the terrorists were all dead, and the cops told him they’ve never seen a bigger hero in all their lives and that they knew Navy SEALS who would have buckled under that sort of pressure, and Brenda kissed him. “Your gun is amazing,” she said suggestively.
     “Excuse me, sir? Your prescription is ready. Sir?”
     “Sorry,” muttered Mitty. “I was just thinking.”
     Mitty went out through the automatic doors that made a faintly derisive whistling sound when you went through them, carrying his stool softener. It was two blocks to the parking lot. Walter Mitty clicked on his e-cig. Cherry. It began to rain, rain with sleet in it. He stood up against the wall of the drugstore, vaping. He put his shoulders back and his heels together. “To hell with the stool softener,” said Mitty scornfully. He took one last drag and put his e-cig away. Then, with that faint, fleeting smile playing about his lips, he faced his vanquished enemies; erect and motionless, proud and disdainful, Walter Mitty the Undefeated, inscrutable to the last. ◊

This piece will appear in The American Bystander #6.

Joe Keohane
has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York, and many other publications.
Joe Keohane has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and many other publications. He was formerly Editor-in-Chief of Hemispheres magazine.
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