Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

His Colt .38 Special

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

His Colt .38 Special

Article excerpt

My husband has kept a Colt .38 Special locked in a drawer of our home in Israel for the past 15 years.

He has never fired it, except to renew his gun license. I can count on the fingers of one hand the occasions it has emerged from lock and key, to be taken with him on what he judges are potentially dangerous highways. Then he wraps the gun in an old felt shoe bag closed with a drawstring. Not exactly a Gunsmoke scenario.

I never touched this gun or any other until last month, during a catered affair at a Jerusalem hotel.

Many guests stayed away that night, for travel to turbulent Jerusalem these days has become a calculated risk. So as not to insult the hosts, we chose to make the one-hour drive, but the gun went with us. In the autumn of 2000, Jerusalem joined my husband's short list of hazards.

Once in the open, the gun becomes an albatross. Since it is illegal to leave a firearm unattended in an automobile, the gun had to come into the hall. When my husband got up to fill his plate from the buffet, it fell to me to keep the pistol in my purse, lodged between perfume and lipstick.

Close to midnight we got lost, trying to find the highway back to Tel Aviv. Above all, we were afraid of taking that infamous wrong turn leading straight to Palestinian-controlled Ramallah in the West Bank. Stopping at an intersection, we asked directions of the car beside us. "Straight ahead," its Arab driver said without hesitation.

Continuing on the deserted road for a few minutes, we came upon a forbidding luminous sign: "Barrier Ahead."

Roadblocks on the way to Tel Aviv? The suspicion that had passed through my mind seemed confirmed: The driver had deliberately misled us. A police van approached, its windshield guarded by a grill resembling the cage seen on nature shows when photographers venture into shark-infested waters. But yes, the policeman corroborated, Tel Aviv was indeed straight ahead.

We had alighted on the new alternate highway winding through the occupied territories. Upon completion, practical, picturesque Highway 443 immediately had become one of the most heavily traveled in the country. …

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