A 1911 Centennial Adventure
By John Connor
Don’t ask me how it happened — there ain’t room here. It took years of clandestine meetings with physicists and fakirs, crystal-gazers and crackpots, mediums, two sidewalk saints and a 16-year-old Cal Tech dropout who built a time-space holographic transmogrifier in his grandma’s basement. I’m not even sure if I was transported through a dimension-warp or it all happened in my head, but suddenly I was in a round room surrounded by opaque cloud-like vapors, with the tinglin’ taste of chewed aluminum foil in my mouth, waiting to meet a man who, as he calls it, “crossed over” — in 1926!
I was shakin’ my head and wondering if I could spit somewhere when a “ding!” like an old-fashioned elevator bell rang. Through the “cloud-wall” stepped John Moses Browning — irritated, grumbling, and flappin’ the lower edge of his robe.
“Horsefeathers and fiddlesticks!” he barked, “Soppin’ wet! Again! Tell me, sonny,” he asked, “Why is it the fans of all my other guns just wanta shake my hand, but the 1911 fanatics gotta be kissin’ and drooling all over the hem of my robe? Soppin’! Oh, well,” he said, touched his pinkie to his thumb, and the soaked spots dried up.
“Say!” he brightened, “I know your dad! Good man. He likes shootin’ the big guns; 3- and 5-inchers mostly, and the 40 mike-mikes.”
“You’ve got guns here?” I choked, “You shoot?” He smiled. “Where do you think you are, kid? Smell any sulfur? Feel any pain?” His eyes twinkled. I got it, and grinned like a monkey.
“Y’know, I have 128 gun patents. Wanta shoot all of ’em?” We had a blast! It must have taken days! We shot BARs, Winchester 97s, a Colt-Browning 1895 machinegun, Vest Pocket autos and a hundred more, and I felt like I was 16 again! Ammo and targets miraculously appeared, and the reports of the guns were muted, pleasant booms. Then he glanced at his empty palm, sighed, and we were back in that cloud-room.
“We don’t have much time, sonny,” he said. “That took three minutes, but wasn’t it fun? Got some questions for me, do you?” I suffered instant brain-dump; a familiar affliction. All I could do was blurt, “Didja know it’s the hundredth anniversary of …” and he cut me off with a wave.
Mister B Speaks
Yep; sure,” he said dismissively. “Of course I like the ol’ girl, but for Pete’s sake, it’s been a century-plus! You folks have done some good things with it, but you’re still makin’ it with that stupid redundant grip safety? I’m honored and all that, but y’know, I learned a lot over the last few decades, and I came up with a better design. Heard of the P-35? Bravo to my pal Dieudonne Saive for finishing it for me — he designed the staggered magazine, y’know — and I’m not takin’ anything away from the nine parabellum; newer loads for it are some real thumpers — but I didn’t leave any orders that it couldn’t be made in .45 ACP, did I?” He twinkled again. “In my head, I called it the Sweet-P, you know, like a sweetpea. I love that gun.”
“Something you folks don’t think about is, I had to incorporate a lot of stuff I didn’t like on guns because that’s what the contracts required, like the grip safety on the 1911. The Frenchies demanded the magazine safety on my Sweet-P, which messed up the trigger pull. I like what they called it though — Le Grand Puissance — sounds cool, huh? Anyway, all it needed was a more positive click to the safety, a tad more mass on the thumb-safety lever, a little more beavertail, and … like this!” A P-35, exactly as he described appeared in his hand. Rosewood grips were flourished with curling tendrils and blossoms — sweetpeas. Nice.
Colt Pocket Hammerless
The hundred questions I’d had deserted me. I stumblingly asked which three guns were his top carry-choices. He didn’t hesitate.
“My Sweet-P, an ’08 Pocket Hammerless, and a BAR, son.” He saw my eyebrows go up.
“Why a BAR? Ask the Marines. There are two in dress blues at every gate here; not really necessary, but they insist, and they tell some great stories! Anyway, nothing says ‘non timebo mala’ — I fear no evil — like a BAR!”
“You’re thinking it’s tough to carry a BAR, right? Listen; what you folks call open carry we used to call freedom.” He turned thoughtful.
“I gave you an interview, so you give me this. Go back with this message and become its champion: It’s not enough to reverse those ‘duty-to-retreat’ laws. It’s not enough to defend yourself and assure your safety. You must create a moral duty, enabled by law, to take positive action to attack evil and defeat predators. There must be a duty to act.”
“Now,” he smiled, “We have just enough time for a quick dark beer. I developed a fondness for it in Belgium. Thirsty?” “Uhhh … Beer? Here?” I stammered. “Sonny,” he smiled, his eyes twinkling, “I said this is heaven, didn’t I?”