My grandmother bought my grandfather a refurbished, working M1 at an auction over the weekend. My grandfather showed it to me. He let me take it out, and was going to show me how to put it together.
But I was already putting it back together myself.
Papaw was handing me pieces and telling me where they went, and how to put them on. But I already knew where they went. I didn’t tell Papaw that, though. Otherwise he’d ask how. Or something.
Because honestly, I didn’t know how to put it together. I was acting as if on muscle memory, or someone else’s memory. Jones’s memory.
I felt this sense of familiarity when putting it together. An odd sort of fond nostalgia. It was the same sort of nostalgia I heard in Papaw’s voice as he told me it was the first gun he learned how to shoot in basic, and how he had to be able to take it apart and put it back together blindfolded.
I had to fight really hard not to tell him, “I know. Me too.” And not to verbally agree that it was probably the best rifle the military ever came up with, and be equally as disappointed when he had to use the M16.
Because that was Jones.
And Jones was so very happy right then.