I wouldn’t call it beautiful, but it was as pretty as something that functional could be. It was a gleaming black Smith & Wesson M29 with a 4-inch tube and a pair of Herrett’s Jordan Trooper grips in fancy walnut. We both knew it was not legal to carry it in an unlocked case on the back seat, but for once, we simply didn’t care. That’s because this was way back when the news was filled with the exploits of the gang they had dubbed the “I-55 killers.” Neither my wife nor I recall exactly when this was, but we were in our Camaro LT so it must have been 1976, 77, or 78.

We were heading down to the area just across the river, and we were just about halfway there when four young men in a dark, four-door auto began looking us over, driving in the next lane just ahead of us, then dropping just behind us, and then racing ahead again. When they started moving into our lane and slowing, I asked my wife to hand me the Smith, lower her window, and then slide down in her seat.

I can only imagine what it looked like from a car away, but that big-bored black gun sliding out the window of a low-slung black car in a hand shrouded in a driving glove would have made quite an impression. At any rate it certainly made Christians out of those young men! Their car remained at a nice, constant speed and nestled into the right lane. I slid into the left lane and sped up until I was some distance ahead. And that hand cannon was aimed directly at them the whole way.

Our car then slid back into the right lane as the other auto quickly disappeared over the rear horizon. We only saw it once again. It came back over the horizon, saw that we were back within sight, and disappeared forever.

I’d never know if they were really the so-called I-55 killers, or just a few kids trying to have fun. All I do know is that we finished our trip in perfect health. Thanks, I’m convinced, to that big-bored beauty with the fancy stocks.

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