Listen to voice over artist Tim George

read the part of Hank Peabody

Visit Tim George's website to learn more
about his work


Gerry Pulls A Gun On Me

from The Reeducation of a Turd Peddler
by John Henry Peabody

I WENT UP TO Gerry Danskin’s place just to ask him a few questions about the theft of the heart. Like I had said before, he wasn’t big on my list of suspects. But you throw your weight around like he does and talk up your place in town and start leveraging history, you better figure that someone is going to ask you a question or two. The least I figured was he might know someone we would never think of asking. As big a straight-laced type that Gerry was, he also knew a lot of weirdoes. Who didn’t, though? This was El Fornio.
  On the drive up a thought occurred to me: Gerry was someone we all kind of wished we could marginalize, and by talking to him while writing about the history of the heart, it hit me that I was pulling him more into the story. The last thing I wanted—that cousin Janet wanted—was to legitimize Gerry’s position.
  For a second I realized I could turn around and head back into town. No one even knew I was driving up there. So no one would even know I turned around. The question was How to work Gerry in without working Gerry in?
  I came around the bend and noticed Gerry’s address was getting closer. What the hell—let’s see how Gerry Danksin lived.
  I pulled into 176 Adelante Drive and saw immediately how mad the man was. His house was like a little mission, a little Taco Bell, with a red tile roof, wrought iron grates and grapes and peppers growing up the sides of the walls. All he needed was a whipping post and some Indians grinding acorns out front, chips and salsa out back.
  As I parked the car, I saw the shadow of a person pass in the front window. No sooner had I gotten out of the car did Gerry come out of the front door to greet me.
  “Hank!” he extended a hand.
   “Hello, Gerry.”
  Gerry was dressed in a short-sleeved Hawaiian shirt and soft yellow shorts that were pleated and pressed. He wore light brown leather Rockports and, like I remember, bounced along on the front of his feet when he walked.
  “Offer you something to drink?” he asked.
  “What’re you having?”
  “Sage ice tea.”
  “Sage ice tea?“ I paused. “Alright. Sounds fine.”

We spent about fifteen minutes shooting the shit, looking over Gerry’s collection of glassed Spanish coins hung from the walls and making comments to his dog who begged at our feet.
  Gerry had one of those little canines that seem to pass for a dog these days. He called her Papi. She was sprite, coifed and eager to please. I had no idea what kind of dog she was. He might have even told me but I don’t like little pretty dogs so the information probably went in one ear and out the other.
  “She’s cute,” Gerry told me.
  “Yep,” I replied, knowing that “cute” was always the wrong reason to choose a dog.
  Gerry didn’t seem to have much to say about the heart’s disappearance. I asked him what he thought of the situation and he assured me that, in his words, it was likely to just “turn up”—which were also kind of my words.
  “I hear you’re a hunter,” Gerry asked, sipping his tea.
  “I’ve been known to get out there.”
  “Just the other day a deer came into my back yard,” he nodded towards the sliding glass doors. “You could’ve popped it right there,” he motioned like firing a pistol, with a wink
  “Did it have antlers?”
  “No, no. No antlers.”
  “Well,” I explained. “It has to have antlers—and least two on either side to be legal—and be in season. Which is about two weeks from now.”
  “Here, just a sec.” Gerry put down his iced tea and headed into the back of the house.
  I stared into the back yard, imagining myself sitting on the lounge chair with my rifle, waiting for a deer. In the early morning, the animal would come down through the chaparral to nibble on Gerry’s nasturciums . . . Didn’t seem fair.
  Gerry came back. “Take a look at this.” He was carrying a big golden semi-automatic pistol with white handles on it and a long barrel.
  “Jesus Christ, Gerry,” I tilted back.
  “Just picked it up yesterday. Here—“ he handed it to me. “Ain’t it a beauty. Be careful, it’s loaded.”
  “Loaded?” I pointed the barrel down and the dog ran up to me so that I was aiming straight for it. I moved the barrel away but wherever I moved the gun the dog would follow. “Gerry, why do you have a loaded gun?”
  He shrugged. “I never understood why you would own a gun and not have it loaded?”
  I looked the piece of furniture over, the dog directly in my sites. “First of all, Gerry, you don’t hand a loaded gun to someone. It’s, like, one of the first rules of gun handling.”
  “Oh,” he said.
  “Have you ever shot it?”
  “No. I was hoping to go up to the range with it at the end of the week.”
  “You never cease to amaze me.” I pointed the gun down and looked it over. By this time I stopped worrying about the dog being in the sites, particularly since now it was jumping off the carpet trying to bite the end of the barrel.
  I noticed that Ruger made the gun, like my cowboy pistol. I looked to eject the cartridges. Then I realized that I really didn’t know how to work the action on a semi-automatic handgun. I did revolvers and bolt or lever action rifles. My gun fantasy never had me playing James Bond dressed in a tuxedo, shing-shinging a golden cigarette lighter of a pistol.
  “Here,” Gerry took the gun back. “I figured this out the other day.”
  “You figured it out the other day?” I asked. “That’s encouraging.”
  With some difficulty, Gerry worked the action and pulled the magazine out of the handle.
  “There,” he said.
  “And the chamber?” I asked.
  “The chamber?”
  “Yes, Gerry. The chamber. There’s a good chance—always—that there is still a bullet in the chamber. That’s how people shoot themselves.” I looked around “—Or how they shoot their dog.”
  He handed me the gun and I worked the action. Sure enough a cartridge spun out of the pistol. It bounced on to the carpet and the dog jumped for it. I pushed the dog with my foot to keep it from getting the bullet and reached down and picked the bullet up.
  “Hey,” Gerry said. “You don’t have to kick Papi.”
  “I didn’t kick Papi, Gerry.” I handed the pistol to him. “Here. I gotta go.” I turned and headed for the door. “And do me a favor—do the whole world a favor, Ger. Take some lessons and learn how to work that thing.”
  He chuckled. “But you gotta admit,” he said as I left. “It’s pretty cool!”
  “No, Ger,” I walked to the car, completely out of ear shot. “It’s totally stupid. The whole thing.”


Copyright © 2010, The El Fornio Historical Society
          Contact John Graham at