Max Popenker (mpopenker) wrote,
Max Popenker

Прекрасно. просто прекрасно

Well, alibi guns are no longer needed and are a thing of the past, so I am
told. But to get to the story this was all leading up to. Which had to do with
a young Border Patrol officer who early one evening had shot a notorious
smuggler when they met "mano a mano" in the middle of a bridge over a
large irrigation canal.

The inquest was being held, late that same evening,
at the coroner's office. If this seems strange to you, perhaps some background
explanation is in order. The coroner was newly elected, and upon taking office
had proved extremely zealous in the performance of his duties. When informed
that his predecessor had made a practice of holding inquests into all deaths
of a violent nature in the safety of his office, he stated publicly that this was
a sorry way to do business, as was only to be expected of his late opponent.
However, while HE was in office all inquests would be held, as was proper, at
the scene of the violence. This new policy lasted only one day. Upon stepping
out on the bank of the Rio Grande to view a "scene" at close hand he had been
fired on by a .30-30 from the other bank. Whereupon righteous resolutions
went by the board. Which brings us back to the inquest in point — at the
coroner's office.

In telling his story the Border Patrolman stated that he had halted the
smuggler on the bridge whereupon that worthy had immediately fired three
shots at him from a palmed pistol, but that his willingness to commit murder so
far exceeded his skill that he missed with all three shots. The officer, recover-
ing from his surprise, finally got off one shot which proved adequate, ending
the affray and the career of the subject of the inquest. At this stage it was
pointed out that no gun had been found on or near the deceased. By way of
explanation the officer said, "Well, when I shot him, his gun flew out of his
hand, hit on the bridge and bounced off into the canal." It was decided to
recess until morning and then drag for the missing weapon.


Now, I knew this young man well, and I knew that he would not he. Not to
me, anyway, and he had told me exactly the same story that he had told the
coroner. If he said the smuggler had shot at him three times before he returned
the fire, I knew that this was true. However, I also knew that the canal over
which the fight had taken place was very large and that a pistol was a pro-
portionately small and hard to find object. Thinking of the implications I found
that I could not get to sleep. Finally, I gave up trying and slipping a small
revolver remarkably similar to the one described as a typical alibi gun into my
shirt pocket, I drove out to the scene of the affray and leaned over the bridge
railing trying to estimate where the lost gun would most likely be located. As
I gazed down at the moonlit water I saw and heard a splash which prompted
me to feel hastily at the shirt pocket where I had been carrying my gun. My
concern was justified. It had fallen out into the water below.

I can only give a second hand report of the wrap up of the case since I
somehow felt that it would be better if I took up some just remembered but
urgent business instead of attending in person. At the continuation the
following morning with the entire cast assembled at the bridge, a large,
powerful magnet which had been acquired for the occasion was lowered into
the water. As it was moved slowly back and forth across the bottom, tension
began to build. Finally, just before the suspense became unbearable, it was
pulled up and lowered to the bridge planking for inspection. There was a great
sigh of relief, for there, firmly held to the magnet, was a gun. The case was
immediately dismissed with the judgment that the officer had fired in self
defense. In fact, one of the jurymen later told me privately and in strict
confidence that it was the worst case of justifiable homicide he had ever
seen ... for in addition to the previously mentioned gun, there had been
five more picked up by the magnet — all positively identified as having belonged
to the deceased — and each with three shots fired!

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