Hohman, Indiana – Present Day

“Hey Flick! If you’re going down to the cellar, bring up some more Southern Comfort. We’re almost… Oh, cripes! Ralph Parker is coming in again, Flick. You better leave out the back.”

“Get outta my way, you damn Hoosiers! Don’t you know who I am?”

“Hello there, Ralph. Long time, no see. No pun intended.”

“Who’s that? Is that Scut Farkas?”

“Yeah, it’s me, Ralph. What happened to you?”

“Messy divorce. My ex-wife struck me blind, the miserable tramp. Kinda ironic, I know, but at least I got a nice fat settlement out of it.”

“I thought you said you weren’t coming in here no more, Ralph.”

“I may be blind, Scut, but that don’t mean I don’t get thirsty. Even local celebrities need a stiff drink now and then.”

“Ralph, the only thing you’re known for ’round here is breaking my nose fifty years ago.”

“Waddaya talkin’ about? I come in your bar all the time! I’m a hero to these people!”

“Ain’t nobody here, Ralph. They all up and left the moment they saw you comin’.”

“Ba-loney! Your customers love hearing about the time I slugged you! Hey Flick! Where are you, buddy? Tell ’em about the flagpole again, Flick!”

“I sent him home, Ralph. All the years of recreating that stupid flagpole bit, he’s only got three centimeters of tongue left. The doctors say he’ll never taste sweet or salty again. Even if he could, Flick doesn’t want to talk to you.”

“Well what about Schwartz? He still owes me a hundred bucks!”

“He’s been dead two years. Don’t you watch the news? Some stoolie accidently fingered him to the feds and the mob caught up with him first. They say they made his mother listen to it over the phone.”

“Well at least you’re still here, Scut! Did I ever tell you about the best Christmas gift I ever got?”

“Gee, it wouldn’t happen to be a Red Ry—”

“—der carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time! I tell ya, they don’t make ’em like that anymore!”

“They never did.”

“Hmm? What’s that you say?”

“I’ve been meaning to tell you, Ralph. There has never been at any point in history a Red Ryder air rifle that matches your description.”

“Oh right, sure. Like you’d know anything about Red Ryder’s legendary blue-steel peacemaker.”

“Red Ryders had a six hundred and fifty BB capacity, the old Daisy rifles were the only air rifles that had a compass and sundial in the stock, and even after it got bought up by Macy’s, Higbee’s never once sold an air rifle, Red Ryder or otherwise, that even closely resembled the one in your story. I should know. I worked for ’em for fifteen years before they closed.”

“Wuh… b-but that’s impossible! I remember it like it was yesterday!”

“Sorry, Ralph.”

“So my wife left me, I’m blind, my friends all hate me or are dead and now you tell me my memories are some kind of sad, seasonal delusion I’ve invented to keep myself sane all these years?”

“The truth hurts sometimes, Ralphie. Here—have a rich, chocolaty Ovaltine on the house.”

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out at 80sTees