Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sky Marshal Story - How It All Started - #1


I suppose it was the gun that brought my personal Sky Marshal story about.

Please bear with me. I realize that most stories that begin with the word “gun” in the first sentence lead the reader to suspect a True Detective-type, noir fiction. Further more, they probably feature a rock-jawed anti-hero and a busty girl in wreathed in an off-the-shoulder cocktail dress. If you’re looking for blood, bullets and broads, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Check out Philip Marlowe who’s writing “This blog for hire.”

The Sky Marshal story initiated by this particular handgun has almost no violence, rock jaws or busty babes…well maybe a few busty babes, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

To begin, we have to go back to Berkeley in the fall of 1970 when my intermitent college roommate, Mike, had just returned from Sky Marshal school. He and I were sitting in a friend’s kitchen maybe three blocks west of Telegraph Avenue when Mike reaches in his coat and takes the gun he’d just been issued by the Treasury Department.

It was love at first sight, at least on my part. I never did find out what the gun thought about me.

I don’t think I ever wanted any one thing as much...before, or since…except for maybe when I was 9 and I coveted the 1949 Berkshire 726 Lionel train set with a smoking locomotive and whistle tender, cattle truck, log wagon, crane and caboose. But, I digress…

Now, please be assured that I’m not talking about just any old six shooter, or five shooter for that matter. I understand that every gun aficionado has his or her favorite Colt, Sturm Ruger or Dan Wesson. The firearm I coveted was the Smith & Wesson Model 60, 38 caliber, snub nose, Chief’s Special stainless steel “Airweight” that was introduced in 1965…about 5 years before Mike handed me his to examine.

Why did I covet this particular gun, or any gun for that matter? It wasn’t that a gun offered me the ability to dispense lethal force, exercise authority, or intimidate miscreants that appealed to me. What got to me about this gun was the artful way it was machined from a block of stainless steel. I adored how the parts insinuated one into another. I was entranced by the trigger-hammer linkage as it rotated the five-chambered cylinder like clockwork…well, maybe the way a big, somewhat clunky, all stainless steel clock would work…but still…smooth.

Before you are tempted to categorize me as some wacko gun nut, you need to know that I’d up until this time, I'd never owned a gun in my life, with the exception of a third-hand Crossman pellet pistol that couldn’t hit anything reliably except the floor.

In fact, until I cradled Mike’s Chief's Special, I’d never realized how much I really, really wanted one just like it. To get my own I'd have to become a Federal Sky Marshal, but at the time that seemed like a small price to pay. I had no idea what lay in store...

Copyright Stephen Rustad, 2007

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