Lasher handed the gunsmith his Saturday Night Special.
“It jams. Can you fix it?”
“Yes. I can make it better than new. Who filed the serial number?”
“Mine, too. Not on my books.”
“If I pay you enough?”
“Three hundred. Up front.”
“I could buy a new gun for that.”
“You couldn’t. You’ve been inside. If you don’t want to go back inside, you need this to work. Every time.”
“Okay, leave it. I’ll fix it. Tomorrow morning we’ll talk money.”
The shop was empty again the next morning.
“It’s ready. I polished the ramp, chamber, action, and lightened the trigger pull. I removed the rest of the serial number and the maker’s marks, the front sight, rounded every corner, and polished every surface. It’ll slip in and out of your pocket like a jade egg.”
“You refinished it, too.”
“The steel slide went into my hot blue tank. The aluminum frame I blackened with cold chemicals.”
“Okay. Now what?”
“My landlord. He wants to put me out of business since he opened a new sporting goods store downtown. Raised my rent twice this year. He always carries a lot of cash on him, at least a thousand. I’ll tell you where and how to do him and we’ll split the take. Put him out of business… and all the cash is yours.”
“Now listen.” The gunsmith held up the pistol. “See this little spring-loaded hook on the right side of the slide, the extractor? It snaps over the cartridge rim to eject the fired case. The primer is in the rim of these twenty-twos, so you have to be careful loading the first round and only use safe ammo. Otherwise, it might fire prematurely when the extractor hits the rim.”
“Why wouldn’t any good ammo work?”
“Some twenty-twos have softer, thinner brass. Good in most guns, not safe in this gun. Listen to the gunsmith.”
“Now, here’s a box of fifty safe rounds. Take these out back, down the path to the river. I test-shoot tin cans off the logs on the bank. Nobody will hear you down there. Come back after you’ve used all the ammo.”
“What about no front sight?”
“Just sight along the top of the slide. Good to twenty feet.”
The gunsmith met Lasher at the back door. “Well?”
“I can’t believe how smooth it feels and works.”
“I promised you. Now, about my landlord.”
The gunsmith told Lasher all he would need to rob the landlord.
When the gunsmith finished, Lasher said, “I didn’t use all the ammo. Saved two rounds.” He shot the gunsmith twice in the forehead.
Lasher was in the back room looking for more cash and ammunition when he heard the shop door open. He hustled down the path to the river and followed it into town. In the hardware store, he bought a box of their best twenty-twos.
The landlord gave up his cash without a shot fired. Then Lasher robbed a dozen more in different towns. He never had to shoot because his threat always worked: “I’ve already killed with this little gun. Do you want to be next?”
In another town, Lasher saw a woman step out of the bank into the sun. Shading her eyes, she didn’t see him watching her. Expensive clothes, rings, big purse, old enough to value her health.
“Into the alley.” His voice and the thing pressed into her back made her comply.
“What do you want?”
“We’ll talk in that area under the stairs.”
She faced him. “Please.”
“Your purse and your rings. I’ve already killed with this gun.”
Reaching into her purse, “My pills.”
“Leave them in —”
He saw the snubby thirty-eight’s muzzle clear her purse just before the shot slammed into his lung.
Falling, he pulled his trigger. His first shot went high over her shoulder. The remaining six shots left his gun in a full-auto scream, each shot higher than the last. His gun empty, he lay bleeding out. She hurried away while he tried to remember what the gunsmith said.
About the author:
Jim Guigli has been a gunsmith, trained at Gunsite with pistol & shotgun, designed and supervised firearms competitions, and toured Quantico as an FBI Citizens Academy graduate. www.jimguigli.com