Shopping, by Bruce Corbett



Copyright  2010  Bruce Corbett


Smashwords Edition



Smashwords Edition, License Notes





I had just read somewhere that the United States had more gun stores than gas stations. Students had been shot at Columbine, and the National Rifle association had reportedly offered each teacher in the country a free hand gun. The absurdities of these items led me to sit down and write an extrapolation. What would happen in staid Toronto if Quebec separated and Ontario joined the United States? Here is a fantasy - or is it? As I write this introduction, gang members in Toronto are well-armed and are currently shooting each other, while a U.S. lawyer is suing a dry cleaner who supposedly lost his favourite pair of pants, for 65 million dollars. This short story first appeared in the Fall 1999 edition of PERIDOT.






Damn it! I knew that tone. It was no siren call, to lure me on to the rocks of connubial bliss. I wish! It was the call of the dreaded Mildred. I sighed and answered. Our house wasn't so large that I could hide or anything. "I'm in the bathroom, dear."

"Honey! Just as soon as you're done in there, I want you to pick up a few things for me at Loblaw's."

 I thought through the implications of that apparently simple request and groaned. It was my birthday, after all. Wasn't there some law that says that you can stay home and relax on your own birthday? And what she was asking was nothing less than death defying.

Ever since the last Mr. Donut closed, even the police didn't go out on the streets at night. I can't say I blamed them. Ever since Quebec separated and Ontario became the fifty-third state, the guns had flowed north. Not Saturday night specials. Not semi-automatic military knock offs. No way. The real thing; fully automatic assault weapons; Uzis, MAC's, machine guns.

For a while Ontario was the third largest importer of weapons in the world. Boring Ontario changed. I sighed again. I knew SHE didn't really care what I thought about it. We both knew that I was on my way just as soon as I abandoned the shelter of the bathroom.

"It's pretty late, dear! It could be dangerous."

"Oh don't be silly, honey. Take the Humvee. I went by the armourers just yesterday. I had the oil checked and the gas tank filled. The ammo pods are all topped up, and they had a special on Big Berthas, so I told him to install one. You'll be as safe as if you are in your own snug little bed."

I wondered about that. The crime rate had climbed another 232% in the last year, but on the other hand, my bed shared by a cranky Mildred, was not the most secure place in the world, either.

I could only sit on the throne for so long. Eventually my bottom became so numb that I had to get up. I had already finished all the good literature I had stashed under the sink. I dutifully ran the water so I wouldn’t get another lecture on personal cleanliness, and then headed out for the necessary briefing. My darling wife tucked the grocery list into my shirt pocket, and then sent me off with a supercilious peck on my cheek. I was heading down the basement steps when a deep growl told me that my BELOVED had decided to get another replacement Doberman. The last one had succumbed to a love tap from my gentle wife.

By the tone of its growl, it wasn’t about to let me pass unchallenged. I waved my left hand in front of me as a tempting doggy snack as I used my right to grab for the Taser in my belt. The ten thousand volts gave the stupid animal temporary electronic rigour mortis, and I made it unscathed to the garage. Maybe it would remember to leave me alone the next time I had to pass through the nether regions of my own home.

I shrugged on my new flak jacket. It was a deep forest green, and had been my big present for my birthday. Mildred had hunted far and wide for one with such casual lines, yet one that could hide a brace of MAC 12's without a single telltale bulge or trace. Making sure that both hidden pockets had their complement of MAC's, I slipped behind the wheel of the massive armoured beast that lurked in our garage. Then I flipped on the onboard AI I had nicknamed Ricky, after a character from an ancient madcap vid my granddad used to drag out for me whenever I became too obstreperous for his taste. As long as I was within a block of the house, Ricky plugged into the home security system by remote. The house AI was a little flaky, so I had named it Lucy, after the nutcase in the same series.

"Ricky, plug me direct into Lucy. Lucy, scan outside the door for life signs."

The deep tones of Ricky's synthesized masculine voice was replaced with the more dulcet tones of the Gerrald 4200 home security 'puter. The new tone was incongruous, coming from a couple of tons of macho machine. "Done, master."


"And I am done, master."................................This story is available for purchase at, Apple eBook store, from Sony, Diesel, Barnes and Noble, and, soon, Amazon.