I spent three days in Markham, a new community north of Toronto - Canada; stayed with an old friend one had not seen for 17 years; meeting his children, his brother and sister whom we were close during high school days; having dinner, drinking wine, telling stories and catching up on the lost years. A good friend whom one shared many drunken nights long ago, from early school years all the way to college; someone whom I have spent more time growing up than anyone I can think of, except for my close family and siblings; now a family man with a delightful grandchild plus kids in their mid-20’s, adults themselves; amazed at how time flies and how we aged; ourselves included – not escaping the onrush of time. Earlier we took an overnight bus to Manhattan - New York, spent a day roaming China town, Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum before taking another bus at 11 pm for Toronto, arriving the next day at 10 am, arriving amidst new buildings and slick bustle of downtown (strangely similar to Shanghai), seeing my old friend come out of his Jeep, limping like always, his white hair receded back in his head, the old smile and happy eyes; it seemed the same as before but not quite – both of us family men now, weighed by responsibilities, no longer the single happy go lucky youths of yester years.
Nevertheless the old excitement was back, like we were kids again, rushing with his son to a firing range in the outskirts of the city, traveling for an hour until one was amidst rolling hills and fewer houses, talking about old classmates and how they turned out, arriving at the gun range which seemed like the American South; pick-up trucks and men with guns, but with a sprinkling of young Chinese men, wealthy offspring from Hong Kong, holding expensive but high caliber weapons. His friend came over, an old grizzly veteran but light and lithe; a killer from the way he moved, confident amidst the Canadian outback populated by Canadian ‘rednecks’; apparently a member of military intelligence back in the old country, a body guard of the infamous Ilocano Governor Singson, now retired and a big game hunter living in a remote cottage in the Ottawa woods. He brought a number of hand guns which he allowed us to use, consuming hundreds of rounds before trying the long range rifles, using reloaded bullets made by the old veteran; one is surprised on the number of weapons in the range, reminding one of those nuts preparing for the end of days, perhaps after a nuclear holocaust that will require the survivalist with his weapons as the only salvation, living off the land like trackers hunting deer or moose.
After a few hours, we fired six weapons, both handguns and rifles, the long range guns used for hunting game; shooting targets 50 yards away for hand guns and rifle targets at 100 yards; the empty shells scattered everywhere, our ear protected by mufflers, finishing our shooting by 4 pm when the range closed, gathering empty shells for reloading in the future. The weapons used were:
.45 Colt, Vietnam Government Issue
.357 Smith and Wesson, short barrel
.9mm CZ Czechoslovakian, automatic pistol
.300 Browning Winchester magnum, ‘elephant gun’
.243 BLR White Gold Medallion Browning
.308 Winchester Wood Master
Soon we got home at about 5 pm, the old veteran joining us with his wife, bringing smoked fish; we drank beer while barbecuing steak, finally having dinner of grilled corn, fish, steak, rice and talking about hunting; the proud hunter showing pictures in his iPhone, beside dead bear, moose, deer; holding all sorts of rifles, telling stories of his life, the SARs epidemic in Toronto, stories of the dead victims, police shooting of an unarmed youth; telling them that I preferred the .45 colt but the .9 mm CZ handled well though not as accurate as the .45, amazed that gun culture is thriving in Canada, something one would not have expected, thinking that it was only in America that the love for weapons was great.