Lord of War

"The Most Important Rule of Gun-Running"


The guy shifted the M-16 assault rifle—a gas-powered holy grail of assault rifles—around in his hand like a woodcarver would inspect a piece of oak. For some reason, they had to look good on the outside. Don't even ask me why. They certainly weren't going to be used for display purposes in the coming days.

"I'll take them," he says. Like I was gonna let him say no. You don't bust through every arms embargo like washi paper just so the guy at the other end can turn you around. You just don't. Like I always say about the trade: Always have a fool-proof way to get paid. Otherwise you're no better than the corner-street merchant trying to sell bootleg videos. The pedestrians can say no, you shrug it off and go back to business. It doesn't work that way with gun-running.

He sets the gun down and signals to one of his men in a language I didn't understand. Most of these jobs can go over with me just nodding my head to whatever they say. It's not something I suggest, but when you're in a hurry…

A man from outside the room brings in a briefcase full of money. I go over it and make sure it's the agreed amount. It is, so I carefully lock the suitcase up and start heading towards the door. With the exchange rate the way it was, I'd be getting a healthy profit for ten-thousand rifles that'd be wasting away in some other country's back-yard. In the end, most of the money that came out of my pocket was shipping and handling.

"Meester Orlov," said the man, standing up from his desk. I've seen that look before. He thinks he's just got a good deal. He nods his head and makes some kind of salute with his hand.

I nod back to him out of respect. "Thank you," I say and I head towards the door again.

Suddenly I'm on the ground. I feel this immense heat pressing up against my back and rubble and dust begins to envelope me while I'm on the floor wondering what the hell happened. I pick my head up and turn back towards the man's desk—briefcase still in my hand, by the way—and the whole room is gone. Nothing there. Where he and his desk used to be was just a point in the sky above the other floors of the building.

When the ringing in my ears died down, I heard the screeching of tires from down below. Someone had reason to get away rather quickly. They were more than likely the people who just blew up my customer. Must have been an RPG, shot from the roof across the street.

Thinking back, my customer had a lot of enemies, most were all talk and no action. Only one particular group who would have the balls to try something like this. Normally, they'd be all talk too, unless they had the necessary tools that I may or may not have sold for five-thousand a piece.

It figures. I have this thing about selling to two large groups in the same country. I really try not to, but if the price is right, I'm willing to make exceptions. Now I'm thinking I should take that thought more seriously. Now, of all times, when I nearly get killed by a weapon that I just sold less than a day ago. No good, I thought to myself as I stood up in the cloud of dust and gazed at the smoldering rubble that at one point housed my client. No good at all.

I know, I know. I could sit here and point out the facts and laugh all day about the irony of the situation too. But, seriously, this really made me think about things. Never since that power-tripping drug lord have I been injured or even been close to being injured by my own stuff. That's the most important rule of gun-running: Never get shot with your own merchandise. Otherwise, it kinda makes business a tad monotonous and, not to mention, painful.

Takes all the fun out of it really…

But in all honesty, I couldn't help but smile at the whole affair. Just as a man in the spray paint industry must look at graffiti and wonder if the vandals had used his brand, I was feeling pretty giddy about my guns getting around.

Not that I approve of graffiti…