Double aught buckshot does a fine job on Chinette paper plates. All the way from the tiny child’s dessert plate to the full-sized fat guy dinner plate. Shreds of China white paper like confetti just everywhere. Donny always stood like the little tough guy cop, blue fleece collar turned up against the back of his neck and hands thrust deep into the cool, slick pockets of his uniform car-coat jacket, “elbows akimbo” as they say. A real bastard, drill-instructor type. Joe, his over-grown partner, hair permed in that 1970′s way, both of them backlit by the dirty, weak glow of the old street lights on the western approach to the Dumbarton Bridge. It was a test. So very many tests. “See if you can hit them.” The Remington butt set firmly in my previously dislocated shoulder, and, yes, scared to death I would miss. I honestly don’t remember many more details, but this: I hit each one, all three, blasting, shredding the picnic plates to fake snow.
I do remember that Donny and Joe did look at each other, turned on their heels and without a word, got back into the patrol car. I brought the shotgun back to the vehicle and got into the back seat. Have I day dreamed about it? Turning on MY heels, facing the hood of the patrol car where they both leaned, smirking, hands anchored into those pockets COMPLETELY UNPREPARED and arrogant, and easily releasing two more rounds. Would I? Never. Could I? Yes, but I didn’t know that yet. This was my first week on patrol in East Palo Alto in January 1976. I hadn’t been to that part of my character yet. It never would have entered my mind at that point. I was so proud that I had passed this test, and I knew they would report back that the little girl did it. She hit each and every one.