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By VINCE LUECKE, Editor
A round of paintballing with some of Perry County generally peaceable police officers left me smarting last week. All I can say is that I received no justice.
I began the day optimistic that I was going to hold my own in a few rounds of paintball with Tell City cops and state troopers. I sulked home that night with bruises to my legs, arms and shoulder. My battle wounds included a swollen testicle and while that may be too much information, the worst damage was done to my ego.
I used to paintball with friends on occasion, but never developed the lust some harbor for hunting other people.
Lest anyone not be familiar with the art of shooting paintballs, it’s a version of playing cowboy as a child. The weapons are a little more sophisticated, but the game is the same, kill or be killed.
I invested in a good gun, which fires thumbnail sized paintballs with enough force to leave bruises. The paintballs splatter, of course and there lies the proof in whether you’ve been hit or not. When kids we used to fight over whether the invisible bullets we fired found their marks.
The first matches were in the woods. I knew I was in trouble when one trooper showed up with two ATVs and a small arsenal of guns and paintball. He also had camo clothes, a fancy visor to protect his eyes and ears and even gloves to prevent painful shots to his fingers.
All I had was a gun, paintballs and a simple mask. I donned a handsome black handkerchief a cop’s wife tied over my head and posed for a group photo I hope never becomes public.
The first game was boring. I was assigned by my commando leader to protect the rear our our five-person squad but none of the enemy came my way.
Round 2 began just as it was getting dark and was disastrous. Trying to walk over a ridge to circle around the enemy, a Tell City officer who is normally very polite blasted me from a perilously close distance. The paintballs slammed me on the leg and I squealed in a way that was surely embarrassing to paintballers the world over.
Had I kept my wits, I would have dropped to the ground and fired back since in our set, rules of the game – regulations that carried little weight later that night – only torso shots counted as kills. I was only wounded and could have kept fighting.
Thankfully, the officer’s son, a brave little paintballer himself, had tripped and fallen.
We made a quick truce, retrieved the lad from a tangle of limbs and exited the woods.
The real war was in the host trooper’s barn that night and resulted in close-quarters shooting that I didn’t much care for. I tried squeezing in a too-narrow space between round hay bales and a wood partition, but that didn’t provide me any vantage point. I surrendered when one of the other team’s players cornered me. Another embarrassing defeat.
Someone suggested a final round and while I knew I should have hung up my gun, I agreed. Me and a trooper’s wife were up against her husband and another trooper. The first trooper quickly eliminated his wife and while I tried shooting around a corner, was nipped hard in the finger. I yelled, flailing my hand as she walked out. She tried whispering his location, which I suppose was against the rules, since she was “dead.”
It was about then I heard the awful “toof, toof, toof,” of a nearby paintball gun and and felt pain shooting up the side of my leg as a series of balls splattered from my shin to my hip. The other enemy trooper had left the barn, a serious rules violation, flanked my position and was firing at me point-blank. I made the mistake of turning slightly and the balls that had been tagging the outside of my leg began hitting my inside thigh. At least one hit me in a nearby tender spot. I fell to my knees.
The shooter laughed. I let fly a string of profanities into the night air. I just hope the kids playing cornhole and roasting s’mores nearby didn’t hear me. I was done for the night, sore, mad and worse, feeling defeated.
The victors whooped it up. I went home, whipped.
I’ve since recovered. The bruises have changed colors a few times and are mostly gone. But the hurt of losing remains and won’t be wiped away until I get revenge.
I’m working on just that. I’ll invite the whole gang to an old barn on my farm for another round. I’m also recruiting other cops for my team.
In the meantime I’ll hone my aim. Defeat is agonizing. Victory will no doubt be thrilling.
But revenge will truly be sweet.