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THE STOREKEEPER/Oíz's Haschemeyer Splash Four days before the UN Security Council resolution will turn Desert Shield into Desert Storm, the team waits for the scouts on the south side of a dust-covered washout deep in the Iraqi desert. Their operation is illegal but necessary. Hays, the storekeeper, a thin man with pinched, worried shoulders, slumps against a rock. It is hot, 102°. Across from him, the shade reaches out, but because the team's pale desert camouflage best matches the bright, sun-bleached rocks, he must sit in the sun. The radioman tells him the temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, as he does every hour, whether Hays needs the information or not. Humidity can slow a bullet down, but today the humidity is negligible. The wind speed is seven knots—light for the desert. The rifle lies across his thighs. A beige cloth sticks out of the muzzle as protection against the sand and dust. Sand fleas move through the hairs on his wrists and under the collar of his shirt. He reaches into his pack for more insect repellent, dabs some on his neck. The lens hoods on the scope are down, and Hays closes his eyelids, too. Sweat runs down his forehead and stings his eyes. The scouts return. They've located an Iraqi observation post a little over a kilometer away. The guys say, "He's just up there smoking cigarettes . They left this guy on a perch." The CO looks around. "What's he have up there?" "A radio and machine gun." The CO tightens his lips. "Hays," he says. "Splash the target." Hays opens his eyes. For the first time, he is ordered to kill a man. Accuracy Igot myfirst rifle when I was ten. It was a .22—a giftfrom my dad. He was the kind of man who could just look at a gun and tell what's wrong. He'd glance over, say, Son, the bolt's not locked down. And I'd think it was, but when I checked, sure enough, it wasn't all the way locked down. Or he'd say, The shot's right low—you're pulling. Myfather was in charge ofauto parts distribution in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri, and he was often gone. I knew when he was home he The Missouri Review · 75 didn't want to waste a lot oftime teaching me how to shoot. He wanted to get out in the woods. So I practiced. One thing I did was take a toothpick and tape it to a garbage can. I'd start walking backward until I couldn't see the toothpick anymore. Then I'd take one stepforward and shoot it. We hunted all over the wild country near our home in Sebastian County, Arkansas. My dad always seemed to know where the birds and squirrels were, though in truth he didn't care much for squirrel hunting. He didn't find it challenging. He preferred quail hunting. I thought squirrel hunting was sporting because the squirrels could hide in the trees. One day my dad showed me that deer hunting wasn't so sporting. We were out bird hunting. I remember some snow remained on the ground, just in patches. He held up his hand and motionedfor me to turn around. And I did, and there was a six-point buck aboutfifty yards away. I stood therefor a second . The deer stood there looking at us. Then it ran offinto the brush. I said, "Wow, that's pretty." He said, "See why I don't hunt deer?" I didn't, so I said, "No." "Could you have hit that deer?" "Sure, Dad. It's as big as a barn." He said, "I rest my case. " And that's the last we said about it. 1,219 Meters The bolt-action single-shot .50-caliber M-88 that Hays carries was designed in 1988 by Wes Harris, then master gunsmith at G. McMillan and Company of Phoenix, Arizona, to meet specific U.S. Navy requirements . It was titled "a special-application sniper rifle." The weapon has an effective range of 2,000 meters (1.2 miles...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 75-90
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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