Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Gun Runner Walks Into a Bar...

Movies and novels are fictionalized accounts of how the real world operates and most people accept this. You won’t find too many people trying to take the plot of a movie or some book and making a lifestyle change so as to fit that particular model for success. We pay for a ticket, we zone out for a couple of hours then we return to reality and our normal lives, such as they are, and we realize as much fun as it sounds, no one is going to fly through the air on a bike with an alien in the front.
Yet there he was. Calvin was one of the regulars at bars in Valdosta, and he wasn’t a bad person, just someone who was habitually depressing.  He was a kill joy, a buzz kill, and there was no happy event Calvin couldn’t throw a cold wet blanket over. That was bad enough in and of itself but Calvin liked guns. Calvin, who was in his med- twenties, wanted to be a gun smuggler when he grew up. You can see where a man who is doom and gloom all the damn time, and who likes guns, might not be someone who has a lot of friends, don’t you?
The first rule of business is advertising. Let’s say you’re selling donkeys. I don’t know anyone who does sell donkeys, or why someone would wake up one day and decide to sell donkeys, or really, why anyone would buy a donkey, but if you were selling donkeys you’d tell people that was what you did for a living and I would suppose, unless you just didn’t think it was something you would want to talk about at parties, that you would talk about selling donkeys at parties. But to talk about selling Ak-47’s  and other weapons to drug dealers in Mexico and how much money there is in that business is more than a little odd. Yeah, if you were a woman looking for some action at a party you might choose a gun runner over a used donkey salesman, but then again maybe not. Maybe someone who could talk to a nun for two minutes and have that woman ready to open her wrist in a bathtub full of rubbing alcohol while smoking meth rather than listen for another two minutes wouldn’t be someone you’d buy a gun, or a donkey from, or for that matter, go home with after a party.

This made Calvin worse.

Had it not been for a woman named Heather maybe Calvin would have faded into obscurity and my past, never to be heard from again. Heather was a vivacious and well meaning woman, who was also built well enough to drawn the attention of most men, and even chronically depressed men, like Calvin. One night at a local bar Calvin was telling Heather of his plan to build up a reputation with the local gun dealers, slowly edge his way into the illegal guns trade and then make a fortune selling guns in Mexico.  But at that very moment, some old song came over the speakers, “Secret Agent Man” and Heather began singing it to Calvin. Instantly, three or four more other people caught on, and suddenly a dozen people who had no idea what was going on, starting singing the song simply because the cute chick was singing.

That pushed Calvin over the edge

In his mind, Calvin suddenly saw himself as some walking joke.  This was true to some extent, but no one should take his own dreams too seriously, or too lightly. But it was his dream and by Dog, he would show us he could sell guns to the Mexicans with the very best of them. Calvin went on a full scale blitz to find someone, anyone, anyone at all, with the right connections, and he scoured the bars in Valdosta looking for someone who might know someone who was selling large caliber automatic weapons to drug dealers in another country.

You see this coming, don’t you? What do you think would happen to someone who was advertising their services as a gun smuggler to every drunk who could or would talk guns? Sooner or later, that sort of talk is going to attract the attention of law enforcement.  An undercover cop offered to sell some illegal guns to Calvin and he drained his bank account to buy the guns. He never made it out of the parking lot with them. Calvin, by looking to buy illegal guns had become exactly what he had always wanted to be, and that was someone who traded in illegal guns. But the downside was he never got a chance to sell them. Yet when the FBI got involved in asking him about his activities, Calvin told them he was more afraid of his underworld contacts than he was of the law. In a scene right out of the movies, Calvin stood his ground against  ratting out his sources, and when they offered him a deal to walk away with probation, Calvin, in his one moment of gun running glory, clammed up on them.
Calvin’s public defender lawyer freaked. The government at that point had no reason to make any deal with Calvin and they didn’t. His eleventh hour after sentencing recantations fell on deaf ears. He had been out on bail, telling people the Mafia would kill him if he said anything, and that was all the law heard when it came right down to it. Calvin had finally gained the notoriety that he had always wanted. But the sentence was ten years plus.
Calvin served seven years in a federal prison for living fiction. I had moved away from that part of the world when he got out, but someone called me to tell me Calvin had returned to Valdosta. He got a job at a lawn care service but was still as depressing as before, but with a reason this time around. Calvin stopped talking about being a smuggler but the stories he told about prison…

Take Care,


  1. The Feds get a bust, and Calvin gets his 10 minutes of fame, so everybody’s happy.

    1. In the end, I don't think Calvin was ever happy. Some even suggested he tossed himself into prison as a form of social suicide.