Business as Usual – N. R. Lambert

“Thank you for registering with NamMo.com, America’s #1 personalized munitions retailer…”

The message arrived at 8:46 a.m. Andy was fixing his coffee for the drive to work when the alert dinged. He finished stirring and sat at the counter before flipping open his hybrid and tapping the tablet’s screen.

“Thank you for registering with NamMo.com, America’s #1 personalized munitions retailer. As required by Section 80166 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 2026 (18 U.S.C. 1214 (d)), “Vicki’s Law,” we are informing you that a .45 ACP bullet was recently purchased, personalized with your name, on Tuesday, April 20th at 8:45 a.m.

“As a reminder, we are only required to notify you of the date and time of the purchase. Federal privacy laws prohibit the release of any additional information, including the name of the purchaser or the state in which it was purchased. Please bear in mind that while our custom products are live ammunition, the purchase of a personalized item does not constitute a threat and should not be perceived as one. NamMo Corporation and its employees are not responsible for the use, misuse, or transmission of personalized products after the purchase.

“This is an automated message, please do not reply. For questions, please contact customer service.”

The site forced Andy to navigate a gauntlet of FAQs before the customer service page would direct him to any actual useful information.

We cannot release information…despite rare anomalous events…no reason for alarm…multiple U.S. residents with similar or the same name…not liable…NamMo Corp. does not endorse or promote the use of NamMo personalized products for the purpose of intimidation, threat, or harassment.

Did you find the answer to your question?

No.

Would you like to chat with a customer service representative?

Yes.

Finally, the site revealed an 800 number. An automated voice, warm and a little husky, answered after the first ring and reminded Andy that most questions could be answered by visiting the FAQ page of NamMo.com. Then the voice, which he dubbed “Mama NamMo,” launched into a list of available automated options.

When he’d registered for the Vicki’s Law notifications, Andy had never thought about actually getting one. At the time, it felt like a responsible thing to do and forget about, like signing up for one of those credit protection programs. It was weird to actually get an alert, but it would be a funny story and—Andy was sure—fertile soil for a lot of wise-ass comments at the office later.

“If you’d like to speak to a NamMo representative, please say, ‘I’d like to talk to a representative.’”

Andy rolled his eyes and over-enunciated, “I’d like to talk to a representative.”

“Okay, I’ll connect you to a representative. One moment please.”

Heavily muzacked Nirvana kicked in.

Why did his chest feel so tight? There were probably hundreds of Andy Wrights in America, even more globally. Statistically speaking, it was improbable that this had anything to do with him. Like NamMo said in their FAQ—was he really quoting the FAQ now?—there were “a myriad of reasons and occasions” for which someone might buy personalized bullets. NamMo.com even sold “handsome, hand-carved display cases” in a “stunning array of sizes and finishes,” and offered “boundless custom options” that would allow the “simultaneous display of a photo, certificate, or trophy with the personalized bullet.” Maybe some other Andy Wright had just finished boot camp, or made sharpshooter on his high school rifle team…

The music stumbled as Mama NamMo cut in to inform Andy that due to an unusually high call volume, his wait time would be approximately fifteen minutes. He glanced at the clock and popped open a chat channel with his cube-mate at Viance, an integrated telephonics tech company that specialized in “customer service solutions,” including AI personalities like Mama.

hey, running late

everything okay?

yeah on hold with nammo.com

uh-oh, placing an order? should we be worried? lol!

ha. no, got a VL alert, I’m pretty sure it’s just a glitch

there are probably a million of you getting the same msg right now

yeah, definitely

but I’ll make sure we stick an intern up at reception just in case lol!

Andy cringed and started to reply, but his email chimed again. A new message from NamMo.com, probably to tell him that the whole thing was a big mistake.

“Thank you for registering with NamMo.com, America’s #1 personalized munitions retailer. As required by Section 80166 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 2026 (18 U.S.C. 1214 (d)), “Vicki’s Law,” we are informing you that a .45 ACP bullet was recently purchased, personalized with your name, on Tuesday, April 20th at 9:03 a.m.”

If it weren’t for the new time stamp in the alert, Andy would have thought it was a duplicate message, a bug in the automated notification system, which sent the messages out within a few seconds of purchase. He’d ask the rep about this one too, if he ever escaped hold purgatory, which now featured a string quartet deconstructing “Paranoid Android.” Andy drummed his fingers along with the staccato bass line for a moment, then swiped open a browser and Googled his name.

Sure enough, dozens of Andy Wrights popped up in the results. He scrolled through, looking for a military dude or a high school kid. It was somewhat comforting to see all these other Andys. He assumed they’d all received the same alerts; at least the ones who’d registered for them after Vicki’s Law passed.

Mama NamMo pierced the cello solo.

“NamMo Corporation’s high quality personalized products make perfect keepsakes and souvenirs that will be treasured by your family for generations. Ask about our same-day delivery to make sure your gifts always arrive on time. NamMo Corporation is not responsible for the use, misuse, or transfer of NamMo products.”

Andy recalled when NamMo first launched. Actually no, to be more precise, what he recalled was the moment he’d become aware that NamMo existed—that office massacre in Ohio. Not the Layton one, the Sumnerville one. That guy who bought ammo bearing each of his coworkers’ names—every coffee-sharing, email-forwarding, birthday cake-cutting, cubicle-dwelling colleague, arranged together in a velvet-lined, handcrafted, custom cherry wood box.

Then, after, arranged together again in the parking lot, in plastic-lined, mass-produced body bags that the Sumnerville EMTs had to borrow from neighboring counties because their piecemeal volunteer station just didn’t have enough on hand.

you still on hold?

yeah, just got a second alert, definitely a glitch or something

must be

anyone else there get an alert?

not that I know of, why?

Mama NamMo punctured Lite Inch Nails to remind Andy that NamMo’s personalized products also made great holiday gifts.

“Are you kidding me?” Andy couldn’t help it, even though he knew no one was listening. Hadn’t anyone vetted the hold scripts? Did they just not care?

you’re not going to believe this, one of the hold msgs: “nammo makes great holiday gifts”

the fuck? srsly, that’s messed up.

right?

There was no way NamMo had forgotten, but obviously they’d hoped (or expected) that everyone else would. Vicki’s Law wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for a “holiday gift,” the so-called “Santa Slaughter.”

After Sumnerville—or maybe it was Layton—NamMo bullets became the trendy gift for edgy celebrities, a punchline for late-night talk show hosts, and occasionally, a prank for teens with too much expendable cash. But then, around the holidays that same year, a guy in Newton, not that Newton—different guy, different Newton—bought pairs of customized bullets bearing the names of his ex-wife, his two estranged sons, his ex’s new husband, and their infant daughter, Vicki.

He sent one of each pair, carefully wrapped, to his ex’s house on Christmas Eve. Then, he showed up early on Christmas Day to deliver the matching bullets personally. He posted images of the slaughter on his feed, then shot himself with a single, impersonal bullet. The rabid, practically gleeful, media coverage reinvigorated public outrage toward NamMo Corp.

Mama interjected again; Andy’s expected wait time was now less than four minutes.

less than 4!

lucky you! listen Naomi wants to go over the deck for tomorrow

shit, yeah, I’ll follow up when I get in

k, good luck

thx

After the vigils, the thinkpieces, the thoughts and prayers, there was finally, finally, some action. “Vicki’s Law.” Originally, it was set up so that NamMo Corp. would be required to notify everyone who registered, and their local police precinct, that a bullet purchase in their name had been made, when and where it was made, and by whom. There was even a built-in wait period for delivery. Millions of Americans signed up for the service. But before it rolled out, the NRA got to work. Leaning heavily on privacy acts, they got Vicki’s Law sanded down until it was as small and useless as a child’s wooden toy coin.

The email chimed again. A new purchase alert, this one for 9:30 a.m.

Three?

A slow, cold panic pushed up from his gut and into Andy’s chest. According to Mama NamMo, there was only one caller ahead of him. His coffee, forgotten, was a cold still life, caught in a weak sunbeam on the counter.

His email issued another gleeful chime. A new bullet. 9:31 a.m.

It had to be intentional. Why else would anyone buy one bullet at a time, when the site obviously allowed bulk purchases? If it was for a magazine’s worth, the buyer could have bought them all in a single order. But to do it this way, one by one? Someone, somewhere was definitely trying to send a message to one of the Andy Wrights…

Andy didn’t think he had any enemies. Then again, had any of the Sumnerville 33 expected their quiet, Rush-loving comptroller to—

A car door slammed outside.

Another ding.

“…We are informing you that a .45 ACP bullet…”

There was that one guy from Viance sales. Michael? Matthew? Always got way too aggressive during the inter-company softball games. One time, he and Andy had shared some heated words at the bar after a game, during which a tiny cup of ketchup might or might not have been dumped on Mike/Matt’s head. But that certainly wouldn’t justify something like this, would it? Besides that bar thing was years ago, no way Mike/Matt would still—

“Thank you for calling NamMo.com. This is Casey, how can I assist you?”

Andy was so used to Mama NamMo’s smooth, but not-quite-sultry voice, that the perky, pipsqueak drawl of the rep made him jump a little.

“Hi, um, so I keep getting these notifications and I think maybe there’s a glitch or something.”

Casey waited a beat. A tactic Viance also taught its customers’ fleets of reps, but usually one reserved for hostile callers. Her power pause was punctuated by the ding of another notification arriving.

“Okay sir, I can look into that for you, can you give me your name and account number please.”

“Sure. It’s Andy Wright. I don’t have an account.”

“Okay, Mr. Wright, I’m happy to assist you. What’s the problem?”

“I keep getting these notifications about bullets personalized with my name, like I’ve gotten five or six now, and I think there might be a glitch.” He didn’t recognize his voice, taut and sharp as piano wire.

“Okay, Mr. Wright. Let me take a look.” She tapped some keys and for a few moments, there was only the faint, steady sound of her breathing. Andy took a deep breath. His chest felt even tighter.

“Hmmm. Let’s see.” More tapping. “Okay sir, nothing to worry about.”

Andy exhaled hard. He knew it had to be an error. But then Casey continued.

“There’s no glitch, the notification system is working just fine. Those messages all correspond to actual purchases of NamMo personalized products.”

“But, I’ve received,” Andy quickly counted the emails, “six notifications in the last hour.”

“Yep, that’s correct Mr. Wright. I’m showing here that those correspond to six separate product purchases. Can I help you with anything else today or will that be all?”

“I mean…just…who would want this many bullets with one person’s name?” Andy’s thoughts touched on that guy down the hall who was always leaving enraged notes on neighbors’ cars about their “shitty” parking jobs or hyperarticulate missives tacked to the cork board about the “increasingly pressing issue of sustained dog barking in our building.” Was he the kind of guy wh—

“Sir, privacy laws restrict us from releasing information about the identity of our customers.” Andy’s head started to throb.

Another chime.

“But isn’t there a limit? Like when do you start investigating? There has to be a level where it triggers some sort of ‘suspicious activity’ alert, right?”

Even before she replied, Andy sensed Casey’s chipper attitude turning into something far steelier.

“Sir, NamMo Corp. is not responsible for the use, misuse, or transfer of our products.”

“Wait. Are you serious?” Andy shouted, knowing immediately that it was a tactical error. At Viance, they would have trained Casey to end the call at that point. But he could still hear her breathing.

“Sir, I have to ask you to calm down. There are many reasons and occasions for which people purchase NamMo’s personalized products. There is no cause for alarm.”

A new message. New purchase. 9:43 a.m.

“That’s eight!” Andy knew he sounded hysterical and a small part of him marveled that Casey hadn’t yet terminated the call. “I mean, shouldn’t you at least tell the police?”

“Sir, we encourage you to do what makes you feel comfortable. But we’re not legally responsible for notifying law enforcement agencies about the purchase of our personalized products, nor can we release additional information to the authorities without a federal warrant…”

Andy barely heard her. His thoughts were scattered and skipping in all directions, like a handful of dried beans spilled on a hard tile floor. He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. His mind spun through the zoetrope of possible candidates: That one IT guy who glared at everyone and never spoke. The boyfriend of that assistant he’d flirted with at the company party last year. That random internet dude who’d filled Andy’s feed with streams of threats and gory images for weeks after Andy posted a mildly political opinion about an upcoming election. The possibilities blurred, a bright orange streak of panic running through his entire life.

“Sir? Did you have any other questions today?”

Andy opened his eyes. Several floors down he heard his building’s front door slam shut. Probably just the mailman…or an equally late neighbor. But he stood to check the locks on his apartment door anyway. Then he sat again, though slightly further from the door than before.

“Sir?”

“Yes. Okay, but isn’t there some kind of protocol, just in case?” Andy tried to keep his voice calm, but he could barely squeeze out the words. “I mean…should I go to work today? Or is that the last place I should go?”

Unless someone was planning on coming to his apartment? Maybe it would be safer to drive around for a while. But then, what if someone was waiting for him in the garage? Was anyone actually watching the security camera footage?

“Sir, if safety is a concern for you,” Casey tapped a few more keys as she spoke, “I’ve just been authorized to offer you a special discount on a NamMo custom personal security package.”

“No. No. I don’t want that. I just want to know who’s doing this. I want to know why!” Andy’s shirt was heavy with sweat.

“Mr. Wright, as I mentioned earlier, I am legally restricted from violating our customer’s privacy.” Casey let the silence hang between them. Andy’s breathing felt forced.

“But what am I supposed to do now?”

“Well sir,” she was bright again, her allotted time with him was winding down; Andy could practically see the countdown clock on her monitor, “we suggest you go about business as usual. If you find that the notifications are disruptive, you can unsubscribe at any time by simply clicking on the ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of the message.”

Andy imagined Casey sitting in a white, brightly lit room—sterile, secure, safe. Just like the faceless “craftsmen” who right now were etching his name into metal over and over again, the shipping team who would soon pack boxes with personalized dread and send them to a stranger. He imagined the sharpened smiles of NamMo sales reps as they flaunted their hollow samples at gun shows and shooting ranges; the practiced grimaces of puppet politicians blanketing the country with their thoughts and prayers like junk mail. He thought about all the fingers that would touch those bullets, his bullets. The same ones that had held Vicki’s bullet, before, and hadn’t faltered—not even for a moment—after.

“Sir, have I answered all your questions today?”

Another chime. Andy tapped the mute toggle on his screen.

“Sir?”

“No. Not at all.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. After this call, you’re invited to complete the NamMo Corp. customer satisfact—”

Andy disconnected. A new email notification drifted down from the toolbar, somehow more ominous in its silent descent. 10:05 a.m. Andy stared at the screen for a long moment before reopening the chat channel.

hey, not going to make it in today

they can’t keep you on hold forever dude LOL!

heh. let Naomi know too?

sure. no prob! see you tomorrow

thanks

Andy flipped the hybrid shut just as another alert ghosted across his screen. He stood, poured his coffee into the sink, and lingered there a moment before leaning forward to lower the blinds.

###


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