Collecting bottles, tossing leftovers, taking out the garbage
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At the edge of town in Merced, California, sits a pale building whose sign says, “The Gun Runner.” A shooting range and retail outlet for rifles, pistols, and any kind of bullet you might need, it is owned and operated by Sandy, a friend of my family’s and the only true psychic I know. Her husband, Gary, whom I’ve never met, helps her run the place. I haven’t seen Sandy for years, not since my father died and she came to the funeral to tell my mother, my siblings, and me what Dad wanted her to communicate: that he had passed over and was filled with love for us and awe at life’s immensity and regret over whatever hurt his depression might have caused everyone. We trusted Sandy and always welcomed her glimpses into the “other side.”
Shortly after that, Sandy stopped giving psychic readings. Too many people asked the same questions: Will I find love? Is my spouse cheating? Am I going to win the lottery? Then there were those who were looking for some purpose or meaning in life, but they all wanted her to give them the Answer. Sandy was more interested in helping people find their own answers within. So she retired and opened a gun shop with Gary.
For years my mother has been saying I should stop by the Gun Runner sometime to say hello to Sandy. So I pull into the shop’s parking lot as dusk descends. The lights are on inside, and I venture through the double glass doors, still wearing my shirt and tie from a state mental-health meeting in Sacramento. I’m nervous and unfamiliar with how to behave in a gun store, and the bearded man behind the front counter eyes me suspiciously. Then I spy Sandy behind the cash register in back.
She grins and acts surprised to see me. (You never know with psychics.) We embrace and look each other over and catch up on our lives: the big dreams we have, the small ways in which we live them out. I tell her about the tragedy of a relative’s drug addiction. She tells me about the suicide of a stranger on the shooting range and the time a stray bullet ricocheted up a ventilation shaft and went through a wall Sandy had been standing next to seconds before. (Her intuition had told her to move just then.) And she describes her new joy: a small group that gathers on Wednesdays at her home to discuss their psychological and spiritual development. In this life, she says, it all boils down to love.
The bearded man who eyed me as I entered the store saunters over and puts his arm around Sandy. “This is Gary,” Sandy says, and he and I shake hands before he’s called away to help a customer who has a question about bullets. Sandy tells me Gary is the most loving soul she knows. Each morning before they open the gun shop, they hold hands and pray to provide a small oasis of light for every customer who comes through their doors. Sandy leans close to me and whispers, “Gary looks right at each person who walks in and silently says to them: I love you.” What more could you ask for in this world?