By Pete Moss
Lorelei had a heart of gold and the best of intentions.
Her parents were from Haiti, hard working immigrants who immigrated to Miami. They played by the rules and got green cards.
Lorelei went to Catholic school and knew nothing of voodoo or Santeria. Lorelei knew right from wrong, good from bad. Lorelei had no patience for grey areas. If something was wrong, it was wrong, and only the blood of Jesus could wash it away. Lorelei had a powerful, practical streak.
I met Lorelei in Long Beach, California.
I was raised atheist. Any kind of absolutism was hooted off the stage in the house I came up in. My dad was a college professor who had a hard on for French guys like Jacque Derida and Marcel Proust.
Lorelei and I moved in together after our 3rd date.
Almost anything either of us said, appalled the other. We fought like caged tigers. Then made up like bunnies that hadn't seen each other in weeks. It wasn't boring.
Then I went to work driving a cab, nights, in Long Beach, California.
Lorelei was shocked that I would take a such a dangerous job. And for little more then $500 a week.
She insisted I get a gun.
I didn't want a gun. I couldn't see any situtation where pulling out a gun would improve things. In my mind, if you pulled a gun, you fired it, immedietly. Shoot first and let the lawyers hash it out. Except I wasn't keen on shooting someone, and if I shot and missed and they had their gun out by then, as who wouldn't draw, when drawn on, I might be the one getting shot.
But Lorelei, who grew up in the Liberty City section of Miami, laughed at me. A lot of time, the appearence of a gun de-escalated a situation, she patiently explained.
That was Lorelei logic: drawing a gun was actually the way to calm things down.
After about two weeks of arguing she wore me down.
And Winston Brown appeared at our door.
Winston Brown was well named. He was short, pudgy, skin the color of tobacco.
He had on a rumpled brown suit. Brown shoes that had seen better days. He carried a brown attache case. He had round wire rim specatacles and a crew cut.
He looked like an insurance salesman. Which he was. He sold all kinds of insurance around Compton and North Long Beach.
Then he had his sideline as a gun dealer. He likely thought of the guns as just another form of insurance.
Winston Brown walked into the front room. We shook hands. He sat down. Set his attache case on the coffee table.
He popped the clips on the case and opened it up. There were four guns held in by velcro straps.
I was unimpressed.
"They're so small," I said.
"Yes, they are easily concealed," said Winston Brown. "Many of my customers are cab drivers, bartenders, truckers, prostitutes."
"Well, yes. Their money is the same color as every one else, and their trade is a hi-risk trade, after all. They often require protection."
I had a vision of a meth crazed hooker getting in my cab and waving her purse gun in my face.
"Of course all my guns are untraceable," said Winston, launching into his pitch. "They are made in small batches by independent gunsmiths in Nevada and Arizona. It's not that the serial numbers are filed or lifted with acid. It's that the serial numbers don't exist, never did, never will."
I didn't get it. "I don't get it."
"Well....say one meets with a contigency. One takes care of the contingency. One disposes of the untesil used to clear up the contingency. There's no official record of this utensil. therefore it cannot be traced back to the operator."
"Say that in English?"
"After you shoot whoever tries to rob you, you leave the gun in, oh, say, the restroom at a bar. Someone comes in and picks it up and then it's their problem. Your name isn't on any record as ever having had anything to do with the weapon in question. In fact the weapon itself doesn't exist, as far as the authorites know. There is no paper trail. No ballistic signature on record. No registration detailing a chain of ownership, you see?"
"I guess. But come on, leave it in a bar bathroom? Why wouldn't whoever find it turn it over to the authorites?"
"Well I wouldn't leave it in the restroom of the airport Marriot fern bar, mind you. But there are establisments along Artesia Boulevard, say, where a gun could go missing, no questions asked."
"Why not just throw it in the river?"
"With the advanced metal detection technology available to the authorities, and trained recovery teams, that would not be ones first choice."
Winston Brown knew his shit. He'd done his homework. He was not just another glib salesman blatting out a pat spiel.
I looked at the guns. I picked out the second smallest one.
"Still, it's so small."
"Many customers exhibit the same reaction as yourself, at first. But think of it this way, if you fired a 44 Magnum within the confined space of your cab, you'd be blind and deaf for an hour afterwards. Plus you'd almost surely have extensive and messy collateral damage to the vehicle. Now, this piece you are examining, this is an exact replica of a Walther PPK," Winston beamed.
I looked blank.
"James Bond's gun," prompted Lorelei.
"It has amazing stopping power, for its size, and yet it can be hidden quite readily in a jacket pocket or a glove box," Pointed out Winston Brown. "With the right charge behind it, the bullet enters the body, commences tumbling, causes great harm, but rarely exits, thus minimizing the previously mentioned collateral damage to the vehicle."
In the end I bought the Walther for $500. Plus a box of bullets for another $20.