New Pulp Press

"Bullets, Booze and Bastards"

Sample from Phone Call From Hell & Other Tales of the Damned by Jonathan Woods

The Handgun’s Tale

In a ditch at the side of the road, a stainless steel Beretta nine-millimeter pistol with pearl inlaid grips lies like a sluggish pit viper soaking up the warmth of the early morning sun, remembering…

My first recollection is of a tanned, blue-eyed face with puffy, chapped crimson lips framed by startling red hair, staring at me where I lay in my molded factory packaging on the top shelf of the glass display case. “That one,” she said, a French manicured fingernail tapping the glass.

The salesman, arrayed in black cowboy gear and sporting a gold and diamond-eyed skull ring on his left pinky, leaned down to look. A pompous Wyatt Earp style handlebar job overarched his puce lips.

“Ma’am. You sure picked a beauty.” His thick hairy-knuckled hands lifted and set me on a leather pad atop the display case. Eagerly the woman picked me up; ejected my empty magazine. From her Coach bag she extracted an identical but fully loaded magazine and ratcheted it into my gut. Her right hand held me aloft and forward in the firing position, aiming down the length of the Beretta store in a swank, gun-toting Dallas neighborhood.

“Hold on there, miss. That pistol’s armed and dangerous.”

“That would be the point.”

She squeezed the trigger and a deafening roar, like an avalanche, filled the room. Staff and customers dove for cover. A ragged hole appeared in the wall at the far end of the store. The gun salesman’s eyes bugging out like a sinner called to give witness at a tent revival. He shook his head back and forth trying to dislodge the ringing from his ears.

“I’ll take it,” the woman said, removing the earplugs from her delicate, three-carat, diamond-studded ears.

That was Abigail, my first owner.

We were inseparable. Often we went to the firing range for target practice where, with luck, Abigail would hook up with some rough & ready cowboy and we’d end up in a motel room with a squeaky bed.

At home I resided in the drawer of Abigail’s desk. If we went out, I rode in the glove box of her shiny maroon Escalade. On those nights when her husband was out of town, I brought Abigail to shuddering climax. It was a strange sensation being drawn back and forth in that dark lubricious tunnel between her legs. Those times when she inserted a live magazine and took the safety off, her screams of ecstasy shattered glass.

One night, when Abigail was passed out from Knob Creek and pills, a thief climbed though a basement window left unlocked by the maid. In addition to Abigail’s jewelry and credit cards, he stole me.

Red was a hyper-nervous thief who suffered from ulcers, insomnia, alcoholism, the absence of appetite and, on occasion, schizophrenia. He weighed maybe a hundred and thirty pounds. His face was gaunt and peppered with stubble.

Red had lots of enemies.

I missed Abigail and her cozy cooze. But my fate lay in the hands of others.

Red carried me tucked behind his back, stashed in the top of his gray slacks, up close and personal to his sorry-assed butt crack. Not my cup of tea. At home I slept under his dirty pillow.

I wasn’t long with Red.

One day as he waited in a bus kiosk, a load of Hispanic gangbangers in a souped-up Honda Accord swooped down and beat the living crap out of Red for some ancient vendetta. In the course of the beating, I tumbled from his belt to the ground and was scooped up by the tattooed fingers of the gangbangers’ leader.

“Hey,” said the one called Pablo. “Whatchu got there, Jelly Bean?”

“Got me a sweet new pistola!” Jelly Bean’s fat lips brushed my cool metal skin. “You belong to me now, baby. I’m going to call you Killer.”

That very night we headed down to the Valley to score a load of crystal meth and deliver a cache of guns. My traveling companions included a dozen Ruger pistols and seven Galil assault rifles.

The exchange took place in an abandoned warehouse crawling with scorpions and brown recluses. The drug supplier, a thin, rodent-faced Mex with the look of death in his eyes, smoked incessantly. They called him El Topo. The Mole.

When the deal was done, the Mole rubbed his cock through his dirty camouflage shorts and squinted at me, jammed in the front of Jelly Bean’s black gangster jeans. “So, cousin, what’s the price on that shiny pussy pistol?”

“That motherfucker ain’t for sale.”

“Everything’s for sale, cocksucker.”

That’s how I ended up in a desolate pueblo high in the Sierra Madres slung in a hand-tooled leather holster riding on the elegant right hip of the Zeta bandit queen known as La Perla Negra.

Imagine her: thick, black, oily hair falling to her shoulders, reptile eyes in a face replicated from a Mayan bas-relief, buxom to die for, dressed in jeans, pointy European boots, a snap cowgirl shirt embroidered with zodiac signs. A former major in the Brigada Escorpion, she had been cashiered from the elite military unit for raping three male officers over a long weekend.

By her rough hands I was stripped and cleaned twice a week.

On a March day with a sky as empty as the mind of a saint, La Perla Negra and her gang swooped down in a foursome of black Xterras to intercept a caravan of three Mercedes reputed by reliable sources to contain senior members of the hated Gulf Cartel.

Around a sharp curve, an old farm truck blockaded the road. When the Mercedes screeched to a halt, the Zetas drove out from hiding, guns blazing.

Just before everyone in the Mercedes died, a returned shot shattered La Perla Negra’s right wrist, sending me spinning through the air into the tall winter-dried grass in the ditch parallel to the road. But not before a bullet exploded from my barrel and lodged fatally in the brain of the U.S. narcotics agent crouched in the front passenger seat of the first Mercedes. It was a trap set by the DEA and their Mexican counterparts. The “reliable source” had proved, in fact, to be unreliable.

A squadron of Federal Police attack copters rose above the horizon to the south, coming up fast. The Zetas fled.

I lay abandoned at the side of a dusty nowhere road in central Mexico.

The sun glinted off my stainless steel exterior, shimmered on my pearl handle, attracting the gaze of an officer of the Policía Federal. Stooping, he picked me out of the weeds and dirt and slid me into an evidence bag.

But that is not the end of my story.

The officer transported me back to the Federal District of Mexico City, where I took up a boring existence on an evidence room shelf in the headquarters of the Policía Federal Ministerial. I lived only in memories of my past glory, replaying over and over the murder and mayhem my criminal owners had wrought with me held in their rough and ready hands.

Then one day, a policewoman close to retirement, with the grudge of non-promotion devouring her soul, took me from the evidence room, inserted a fresh magazine in my chamber and hid me in the bottom of a shoebox.

In the guard station of a remote and little-used side entrance to the Presidential Palace, she placed the shoebox on a counter, jounced into the lap of the handsome young Naval Infantryman on duty and thrust her tongue down his throat. In no time she was stark naked, guiding the young officer’s junk into her vagina, his clean-shaven face buried in the perfumed immensity of her cleavage.

As the bamboozled officer thrust away, a Presidential Palace butler, corrupted by the Zetas, removed the shoebox, unobserved.

That night the President of los Estados Unidos and his Attorney General were the dinner guests of el Presidente of the Mexican Republic.

From inside the shoebox I could hear the serial arrival of a caravan of shiny, black armored Ford Tahoes, disgorging the two American dignitaries, their advisors and translators and their Secret Service bodyguards. A tingle of excitement ran through my length and back again.

While both sides mingled noisily, if awkwardly, in the library, sipping margaritas and bourbon rocks, the corrupt butler slipped silently into the grand lounge with its paneling of rare tropical woods and signed Diego Rivera etchings, where after dinner sweets and coffee would be served. The butler took me out of the shoebox and placed me in the back of a drawer in an ornate sideboard. Resting on black velvet, I shivered with anticipation.

After the formal speeches over dinner, alone in the lounge el Presidente and his counterpart from the North and the American Attorney General would explore serious topics relating to the drug war.

Between dessert and coffee, the butler and I killed all three.

The butler died in a hail of gunfire, his bullet-riddled corpse thrown higgledy-piggledy into an unmarked pauper’s grave.

I, on the other hand, became the most notorious handgun since the revolver carried by John Wilkes Booth.