THE GUN LAW
" The Gun Law" is a narrative reconstruction of an actual incident. The main character was an acquaintance of ours, and we shared the suspense and fears of his arrest and incarceration. The case was decided in court just as is represented here. Occasionally real life does make serviceable fiction .
Deke Allen was arrested Friday afternoon on his way home from his uncle's house in Yorktown Heights.
He'd had a call that morning from his father. Mostly just to ask how Deke was doing, how was business, how's that girl what's-her-name, the one you live with, pretty little thing. So forth. But during the call his father mentioned that Uncle Bill was having a problem with rats in his basement. Deke's father said, "If you happen to be heading up that way you can drop by and pick up my shotgun. Take it on up to Bill's and see if you can take care of those rats for him."
Uncle Bill didn't like to put down poison because he had a houseful of dogs. He adopted stray dogs; it was his avocation. The place - a four-acre farmstead near the Croton Reservoir - was fenced in to contain the cacophony of orphaned dogs. Deke liked Bill and had nothing better to do that Friday. His next job wasn't scheduled to start till Monday. So he went by his father's house in Ossining and picked up the pump-action sixteen-gauge and a boxful of shells for it, and drove out along Baptist Church Road to his uncle's dog farm.
Deke Allen tended to carry just about anything a human being might need in his Microbus. It was his factory, craft-shop, tool-warehouse, and repair center. Deke, in his anachronistic two-bit way, was a building contractor. He specialized in restorations of old houses, preferably pre-Revolutionary houses; there were plenty of them in the Putnam County area and he had a good deal of work, especially from young New York City couples who'd made themselves a little money and moved to the country and bought "handyman special" antique houses for low prices, hoping to meet the challenge. Most of them learned that it was harder work than they'd thought; most of them had city jobs to which they had to commute and they simply didn't have enough time to repair their old houses. So when an old cellar sprang a leak or an old beam needed shoring up or an old wall crumbled with dry-rot, Deke Allen would arrive in his Microbus with his assortment of tools. Most of them were handmade tools and some of them actually dated back to Colonial times. He was especially proud of a set of old wooden planes. He'd had to make new blades for them, of course, but the wooden housings were the originals - iron-hard and beautifully smooth and straight. And he carried buckets filled with old squarehead nails and other bits and pieces of hardware he'd retrieved from condemned buildings and sheriff's auctions and the Ossining city dump.
He kept all his toolboxes and hardware in the Microbus; he'd built the compartments in. He even had a little pull-down desk in the back where he could do his paperwork - measurements, billings, random calculations, the occasional poem he wrote. He kept an ice cooler in the back for soft drinks and beer and the yogurt he habitually consumed for lunch. Deke was a health-food nut. The only thing he never carried in the truck was marijuana; he knew better than that. Show a state cop a psychedelically painted Micro-bus driven by a young-looking 25-year-old with scraggly blond hair down to his shoulder blades and a wispy yellow beard and mustache and a brass ring in his left ear - show a state cop all that and you were showing him a natural reefer repository. So the grass never went into the Microbus. And he was always careful to carry only unopened beer cans in the ice cooler. It was legal so long as it was unopened. Deke got rousted about once every three weeks by a state cop on some highway or other. It was an inconvenience, that was all. You had to put up with it or get