Oscar liked guns. Any type of gun, really, he liked them all. Sure, he had his favourites (who didn’t?): the Smith & Wesson six-chamber revolver, his Desert Eagle .50, made famous by John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, both personal heroes of Oscar’s, so of course he had to have both. The AK-47, common as mud and often just as deadly in those third-world countries where their bark is twinned with that humming whine of a fate postponed, or with their flesh rending, mutilating bite. He owned three Claymore mines, with trip-wires, scavenged by the Viet-Kong from bunkers, abandoned or conquered, deep in their ancestral jungles. Smuggled, along with the AK, through Indonesian coral atolls and across New Guinean highlands. Plundered from the West through Communism’s conquest, and ransomed back, for a pauper’s price after Capitalism’s fatal coup.
A Second World War Luger, disabled during the amnesty (the bastards!), the spoils of war won from a NAZI officer, deep inside occupied France. A blunderbuss, carved with a dragon’s maw around the muzzle, breathing fire. It was from the 17th century. Oscar was immensely proud of it. Moreover, it was legal, too. Along with his .22 rifle and the impotent Luger, it was a gun that the government had said that he could own. These guns lived upstairs, in the lounge room, in a cabinet that held pride of place right next to his TV. He had shown them to everyone he knew. He showed them to the Tactical Assault Group that arrived, in the pre-dawn, Heckler & Koch MP5s waiting to reply to any resistance.
He woke up, blinded and paralysed, dazzled by a flash-bang grenade that rolled through his open bedroom door. He was dragged bodily into the lounge room and thrown down hard against the wooden floorboards, hands cable-tied behind his back, the black plastic pulled tight against his wrists. Lucy, his wife of fifteen years, was standing, arms folded across her green flannelette pyjamas, unsurprised next to the remains of the front door. She pointed to the sofa: “Under there,” she said, her voice angry but barely above a whisper, “that’s where he bloody keeps them.” The pain was written deep across Oscar’s face: all those beautifully malignant machines that he would now never use in the wild. The betrayal stung at him like the .22’s recoil, a sullen pain, one that you could never admit to. He knew now that he would never again be able to trust her, after all her promises of loyalty and protestations of love. He would never buy the Steyr rifle and hand grenades guaranteed him by the grey bearded and pony-tailed bikie down at the Queen’s Arms, bartered from meth junkies on base in exchange for their next big fix.
A soldier, bedecked with a black balaclava and a bullet-proof vest, still revealing his pale blue eyes and vanishingly blonde eyebrows, set his shoulder against the couch, muscling it across the now crowded room, exposing the trap door set in the floorboards. His comrade, shorter but with eyes of emerald green, eyes that betray a shock of red hair and a freckled nose against ghostly pale white skin, was leaning forward, crouching above the door, flashlight in hand. Oscar was flipped, roughly, onto his back as they dragged him out of the room, a stripe of duct tape slapped crimson red across his lips. The Claymore exploded as the hatch was lifted, triggering the trip-wire, the soldier’s fragmenting torso silhouetted by the tongue of fire lapping out onto the floor above. An echoing, pounding sound filled Oscar’s head; the pulsing beat of his own heart was all that he could hear. It was beautiful, an almost divine power that he alone had foreseen, that he had unleashed. It was exhilarating, how the ball bearings’ bright birth from deep within the Claymore’s steely, infertile womb had, in a fleeting instant, extinguished the flame of another: a death through their new life.
A fist slammed sideways into his already battered head, as a boot slammed into his rib cage. Oscar fell to the floor once more, this time onto the paving that made up the front door-step of his half demolished home, and the stabbing pain almost made him cry out, but underneath the duct tape he was smiling as a knee clad in camouflage fell down into the small of his back, unleashing the nothingness of unconsciousness.
“I just really like guns,” Oscar was speaking into a microphone, over the top of the noise of the courtroom, protesting his innocence, his naivety. Lucy had spoken before him, telling the court ridiculous stories of an “obsession”, of his “slow descent into madness”, of “a room full of guns.” She had ignored him, refused to even look in his direction as she walked to the stand, protected by two burly riot shields of policemen, ignored him as she sat in front him and swore to tell the truth. Before lying like the bitch she was. The bikie had also testified, although he identified himself as Inspector David Thomas, telling his tale of a “seemingly uncontrollable desire to obtain these illegal weapons, regardless of how they had been acquired”, about how the Federal Police had been notified by their Indonesian counter-parts, and about how they had tracked it once it reached the highlands of Papua New Guinea. He sat tall and dignified, clean-shaven and with his ponytail shorn, as he told the court that Oscar was “stockpiling weapons, in ASIO’s view, to occasion a deadly attack against Australian nationals on Australian soil.”
Oscar told them again the he “just liked guns” and that it wasn’t his fault that those two soldiers had been swallowed up in that terrible maelstrom of fire, he could have warned them, if his mouth had only been left uncovered by that ripping tape.
He blamed Lucy, by now his ex-wife, or “that traitorous bitch over there.”
He had told her more than once, after all, “no one is allowed downstairs.”