topic 1950's

WRITER Colin Gravois Pepere's pistol Earl

   Dear Aunt May,

   You mentioned Pepere Victor's pistol and how it went off in Uncle Earl's hands. I was there and I can tell you how it happened. I was watching him go through Pepere's desk and papers just a few days after the funeral, and Mary, who was about 2 1/2 at the time, was playing in the room. Uncle Earl had just found the pistol in the desk (I believe he found it in the main drawer, although I know Pepere kept it in one of the pigeon holes at the top). He sat down on Pepere's bed in the closed-in porch to inspect the pistol. By the way we always said Pepere slept with the pistol under his pillow and would put it back in the desk when he got up, but that was just idle speculation.

   It was a big black pistol. Uncle Earl had it in his lap while inspecting it, and he absentmindedly actioned the magazine, and it went off with a deafening bang! I can still remember that bitter smell of gunpowder. Mary was standing on one side and I was on the other, facing him. The bullet passed between us, but closer to Mary (less than a foot from her head). It went through the window and through a reflector on the outside lights (metal reflector about 12 inches in diameter). We were all shocked but I believe Uncle Earl was the most shaken of all, as I'm sure he realized how close we had come to a catastrophe. That reflector stayed up a good man years after that, and we always pointed to the bullet hole (to impress our city cousins, no doubt!).