Heaven’s Gate

Jul 15, 2013

Heaven's Gate CoverProspect, Tennessee Police Chief Sam Jenkins goes undercover to buy automatic weapons and military munitions from a gun show hustler.

The chief enlists assistance from an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to provide front money for the operation, and by reviving his old skills as a New York detective, Sam pulls off the sting in grand fashion.

But things turn explosive on the “Peaceful side of the Smokies” when members of a neo-fascist militia group believe the crooked gun dealer Jenkins arrested has turned informant.

Read An Excerpt

Most of the police chiefs I know don’t work on weekends. I’m no exception. One warm Saturday in late May, I stood in the driveway washing the pollen off my gorgeous 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 when my equally gorgeous wife, Kate, stuck her head out the door.

“Hey, sweetie, Junior Huskey is on the phone.”

“Be right there.”

Junior is one of the twelve officers who work at Prospect PD. Prospect is a picturesque little city in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

I rinsed a coating of suds off the Healey, walked through the garage, and answered a wall phone in our kitchen.

“What’s up, kid?” I said.

“Sorry ta bother ya, boss, but me an’ Bobby’s at a gun show in the Jacob Building at Chilhowee Park an’ we need supervision.” Bobby was Officer Bobby John Crockett, another one of Prospect’s finest.

“You want me to help you pick out a gun?” I asked.

“No, sir. We got us a po-leece problem.”

“Chilhowee Park is in Knoxville—not our area.”

“Sam, this looks big,” Junior said. “Y’all might need ta git yer federal friends involved.”

“Aren’t there any local cops at the show?”

“Yes, sir, two old guys from Knox County who don’t look like they can walk and chew t’bacca at the same time.”

“And you want to get involved?”

“If yew was here, yew would, too.”

“What have you got?”

“We had went half-way through the show and I needed ta go in the men’s room. Well, sir, three guys are standin’ there and one opens a briefcase. He showed the other two what looked like a pair o’ rocket propelled grenades and an old-fashioned pineapple hand grenade.”

“It was live ordnance?”

“Yes, sir, I believe so.”

“Why do you think that?”

“While I was takin’ a leak, I heard the guy with the briefcase say, ‘Yew want other stuff from Nam, I kin git ya U.S. or commie—new old stock.’”

“You see any money change hands?”

“The lookers said it was too expensive fer ‘em.”

“This guy still at the show?”

“He’ll be here till five o’clock. Got him a dealer’s table.”

“I’ll be there in half an hour.”

I grabbed the sport shirt I left hanging on the back of a chair and began putting it on when my wife asked a reasonable question.

“Where are you going now?”

“Knoxville gun show. Junior and Bobby have a problem.”

“And only the police chief can help them on a Saturday morning?”

“I’m their fearless leader.”

“You were going to help me make pickled ginger.”

“Soon as I get home.”

The streak of gray that runs through Kate’s dark hair fell over her left eye. I brushed it aside and kissed her.

“Hang in there, Kats. I’m off to fight crime and keep East Tennessee safe for democracy.”

“You’re such a creep.”

“But I’m your creep, love. I’ll be home soon.”

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