Interview #23

Copyright © 2002, Dave Mark Voorhis. All Rights Reserved.

"You ever shoot a man?"

Once, we got a shots fired from the old downtown hotel up in Wheatland. That must have been back when there still was a Wheatland. Rural shithole out in the woods. Manager's having fits because a customer's locked himself in a room for three days and hasn't gone nowhere, won't come out and won't say nothing, then they hear a loud pop from the room and don't want to go in there. I think I was coming back from a domestic in Minnedosa, or maybe it was a property dispute in Rivers, and it was a holiday or whatever, so I was the only officer within a hundred miles.

I got there and the door was still barred from inside. I broke it down. A guy was slumped in one of those twirling office chairs. Bolted to the table was some kind of mechanical or electronic contraption. Had a big red button.

The guy had a big red hole in his forehead and the back of his head was blown off, brains showing through like hamburger.

A slug was buried in the wall. I bagged it and put it in my pocket.

At that point, I figured he was some down-on-his-luck farmer/inventor who went crazy staring at wheat or overdue bills and built a gadget to lob a bullet at himself, but he didn't have a car or any ID on him and nobody ever claimed him, so we were kinda stuck on proving that front.

There were a bunch of technical specifications and circuit diagrams. Something about a "quantum singularity event sensor" if I remember the phrase, and a lot of babble about entanglement and multiple realities and the effect of something-or-other on time. Nutcase or fringe-science wacko, obviously. Nothing in there like a suicide note, except maybe the top note on the heap, which was kinda odd.

"You mean the fellow built a gun triggered by a subatomic event, and aimed it at himself?"

Sure. You know what's really weird? There wasn't a drop of blood anywhere. The wall and floor and ceiling and everything should have been stuccoed with the remains of his head, but they were clean as those places get before the maid comes around.

So after a whole bunch of technical crap, the last thing the guy wrote was this:

I thought I heard something. Did it work?

I have no bullets.

In those days, we still had to evaluate home-mades to be sure they're capable of the act. Insurance issues and all, right? Usually you get Forensics to do it, but we were pretty loose on procedure outside the city and I knew the gal in charge, so it wasn't a problem.

You're gonna think this is funny, but the only sure way was to try it: I took a bullet out of my clip, found where to snap it into the guy's gadget, pushed the big red button and nothing happened. Okay, fine, it doesn't work any more. Then BANG! I thought I'd blown my hands off. I'm sure I rotated the chair out of the way but the slug must have hit the corpse by mistake, because there was blood everywhere. He and the chair were slowly spinning. Must have taken him through the same entry hole, too, because there weren't any new ones. The wall was dripping with brains and gore, and the gadget was pretty busted up.

As expected, the bullet lodged in the wall. In fact, it hit the wall exactly where there other one did. No new marks; nice consistency. I mean, it plugged the old hole perfectly. So that proved it -- it must have been suicide, but...

"But what?"

I never found the shell casing.

"Maybe it bounced away? Flew into something? Whatever?"

Could be. But you remember the first bullet? The one I pulled out of the wall; the one that must have killed the guy? I put it in my pocket, right?


So I should have wound up with two bullets, right? After I fired my test bullet, I checked for the one that killed the guy. My pocket was empty. I looked for it everywhere in that tiny room. Naturally, I couldn't tell the Forensics unit to search for it; they'd think I was nuts. I never found it. I only got one bullet -- mine.

I have no bullets.