The Presidential Collection

Albert Commons sent his housekeeper out for the evening the night his caller arrived. With conscientious attention he presented her the pair of expensive play tickets in honor of her fifteen years of dedicated service.
A subdued rap on one of the double front doors echoed in the foyer.
Stumbling from his position on the bottom step of the sweeping staircase, stiff from waiting immobile, Albert approached the entry. As always he felt a surge of pride in the regal twin American shields carved into the massive panels. The coat of arms confirmed his family’s participation in the Revolutionary War and was mirrored on the exterior of the doors in order to notify the public as well. The interspersed sprays of olive branches introduced an organic ambience and complemented the patriotic images.
He hesitated for a count of five seconds with a hand on the knob and centered his concentration. The man he prepared to admit to his home both frightened and fascinated him, but Lennard specialized in acquisitions and accomplished what no other could achieve.
Directing the visitor to proceed through the downstairs library doorway, Albert bit back his impatience. His companion bordered on reticent, but when he did speak, his speech patterns were precise and the enunciation flawless. Even so, Albert believed the man’s nationality originated elsewhere.

Indicating Lennard should sit in the single Windsor chair, the words burning inside Albert’s mouth escaped. “You’ve been successful?”
Lennard’s mouth curled in an unnerving smile. “I have it right here.”
He patted the side of his overcoat then withdrew a compact object wrapped in startling white cloth. Laying the item on the leather desktop pad with a soft thud he pulled aside four layers of fine cotton until a pocket pistol lay exposed on the monogrammed square.
“Remarkable.” Albert whispered. “I am very impressed you achieved this task.” His eyes identified the familiar form of the Philadelphia Deringer. A fierce jolt of satisfaction rose up through his body until he felt light-headed with triumph. His goal lay within reach. Three of the four obtained.
“Does that mean the endeavor is worth such risk?”
“Assuredly.” Albert said.
Examining the small firearm beneath the yellow glow cast by the green glass shade of the Banker’s Lamp, he thought it a thing of beauty.A percussion type handgun, the caliber ranged close to a .44 in modern terms, certainly capable of killing a man at close range. This particular gun had demonstrated that exact ability. The walnut grip, dimpled and cross-hatched with incised carvings, settled snugly against the palm. An intricate tracery of etched lines surrounded the stamped maker’s mark on the flat top of the barrel. Rich German silver inlay banded a fierce eagle’s head near the breech region and escutcheon. The front sight displayed a lovely dovetailed blade and fixed rear-sight tang. Even the lockplate and hammer were engraved with excellent foliate arabesque patterns.Ironically the detailed work of the inexpensive piece, probably half of a set when purchased, reflected the artistry of a bygone era.

Without removing his greedy gaze Albert spoke. “I’m so pleased with your results; I should like to negotiate another commission.” He touched the dark wood of the stock with a trembling finger, wondered if the fatal shot had been delivered by a sweaty finger or with cool concentration.
Lennard’s voice came smooth as aged bourbon. “I am not indisposed to an offer.”
The utter absence of inflection in the man’s cadence unnerved Albert and drew his complete attention. For a moment the shadows seemed heavier and denser, the dark corners seethed as though an entity coalesced. Thrusting away fancy, he cleared his windpipe and found to his disgust, his palms slick with perspiration.
“I would like you to retrieve a final item of historical significance. The logistics are considerably challenging, perhaps more so even, than the recovery of the Lincoln derringer.”
Lennard’s gold signet ring winked in the dull light. “What singular object intrigues you to such risk?”
The mere thought of attaining the entire assemblage made him dizzy. The obsession to possess each of the firearms responsible for striking down an American president sent Albert forging ahead. “A Carcano rifle.”
“I understand.” Lennard leaned back and remained silent for thirty seconds. “May I see the others?”
Pleasure ripped through Albert with a heat akin to sexual release. He considered the request. His guest had demonstrated incredible acumen; why not indulge himself and share his achievement? After all, this man would acquire the crowning piece in his Presidential Collection.
Depressing a discreet button on the underside of his desk, Albert turned to the wall as a length of rosewood paneling cracked apart and slid open to display an elegantly arranged sequence of guns contained within an ebony frame. Two revolvers, a .32 caliber Iver-Johnson and a .44 caliber British Bulldog rested against crimson velvet. Several tiny titanium arms in the center of the case waited to hold the Lincoln gun. Above was space for a rifle.
“The McKinley and the Garfield.” Albert flourished a veined hand before dragging his admiration from the exhibit to see the appreciation on Lennard’s face. He jolted with shock.
The palm pistol pointed at Albert’s chest.
Lennard’s lips twitched with amusement. “The Kennedy rifle always comes last because the National Archives are a significant deterrent.”
Albert swallowed hard, suppressed his momentary loss of composure and drew on pride to straighten his spine. “What is your intent, Sir?”
The derringer barked. Smoke trickled from the breech and a burst of flame emitted from the throat of the barrel.
The bullet tore a messy path through the fleshy skin in front of Albert’s vocal organs.
Lennard withdrew a padded sleeve from the interior of his coat and slipped each historic firearm carefully inside. He paused in the doorframe and surveyed the room.
“I’m the retrieval contingency.” He said before he exited.
The door shut with a soft click.
Flash Fiction Challenge: Must Love Guns @


  1. #1 by Darlene Underdahl on August 13, 2011 - 1:35 am

    Gun porn; you nailed it!

  2. #2 by Lesann Berry on August 14, 2011 - 3:42 pm

    …and I don't even feel dirty!

  3. #3 by Katherine Tomlinson on August 14, 2011 - 10:51 pm

    What a great conceit. And love the twist.

  4. #4 by Lesann Berry on August 15, 2011 - 2:53 am

    Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I liked the idea too.

  5. #5 by oldestgenxer on August 16, 2011 - 12:35 am

    Yeah, but the Kennedy rifle isn't really what killed him. You have to find out what weapons were fired from the grassy knoll…

  6. #6 by Lesann Berry on August 16, 2011 - 1:54 am

    OMG. I had no idea how much controversy surrounded the grassy knoll and the guns. I'd heard there were several differing points of view, but goodness people get excited about the subject. I opted for the "official" opinion and went with the rifle but I make no claims it's the correct interpretation. At any rate – Albert Commons wanted the rifle so it worked just fine.

  7. #7 by Jo Eberhardt on August 17, 2011 - 2:01 am

    As always, your writing had me entranced. I love the concept and the twist was great (and it's great that this happens so often that there's an actual retrival plan). I also liked the name Albert Commons. Great work.

  8. #8 by Lesann Berry on August 17, 2011 - 4:41 am

    Thanks for the compliment! This was one of those ideas that just seemed to tie itself together (it's nice when that happens). People collect so many odd things that once I thought of the idea I wondered if anyone had ever tried to actually steal each gun…which got me researching and *poof* there went an hour.Thanks for reading!

  9. #9 by louisesor on August 18, 2011 - 2:49 am

    Well done! An atmosphere of research and very convincing.

  10. #10 by Melissa on August 18, 2011 - 10:08 pm

    I enjoyed the detail in this one.

  11. #11 by Lesann Berry on August 19, 2011 - 2:21 am

    Thanks Louise and Melissa! This was fun to write – I may actually tuck this one away to develop further.

  1. The Senator’s Secret | LESANN BERRY

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