I think my Mother would easily concede that I was a peculiar child.

All I wanted for Christmas, in the fourth grade, was a briefcase.
Certainly not because I was studious. I flunked the fourth grade.
I wanted one because of movies like The French Connection or Day of the Jackal.
I wanted a briefcase because spies, arms dealers, and assassins had them.
Briefcases were not for books. They were for various forms of identification, passports atop perfectly stacked rows of $100 bills. They held pistol and silencer.
Briefcases were essential to every international man of mystery and I would have one.
Though by no means spoiled or over indulged, my Parents did however accommodate my very active imagination.
That Christmas, under the tree, I discovered, to my immense joy, a beautiful, black, Samsonite attaché case.

I carried it everywhere. I took it to school and other boys made fun, calling me Perry Mason, failing to grasp my alter ego completely. A simple lawyer, can you imagine?
I recall breaking down my Daisy BB rifle, removing the stock, so that it would fit inside, bringing it to school and, in my imaginary world, pursuing some manner of espionage.
What I also needed, what any respectable assassin had in his briefcase, an essential component for spycraft, were stacks of money.At that age, at that time, my allowance was $1 a month.

As it happened, where we lived, there was a store, the Variety Store. For $1, you could buy a perfect stack of play money.
I endeavored to use my allowance, every month, to buy a single stack until my briefcase was filled.
The problem was, that I rarely got my allowance. A month is a very long time for a boy to stay out of trouble. And a boy in trouble usually got his allowance taken away.
Sadly, my dream was never realised and it’s always been at the back of my mind, a disappointment.

A few weeks ago, I found myself in the unenviable position of trying to explain to Michele why I just had to have the packets of tissue paper that resembled stacked $100 bills.
No doubt the checker at World Market, where I found them, was just as curious when I piled them onto the counter. “They’re for a project”, I said, avoiding eye contact.
Once home, I dug out my black briefcase (sadly, not the same one) and began to carefully place the stacks of childhood dreams, in perfect rows, just as I had imagined as a little boy, with Michele looking on, bemused.

I have to say, the satisfaction was everything I’d hoped for.
It brought back for me, so clearly, that imagination that I clung to, that sustained me during an often very lonely boyhood.
It was almost perfect.
But it needed a toy gun.

As a grown man, as you can imagine, I don’t have any toy guns.
Using an actual gun just seemed wrong to me, violating boundaries of the sacred world I inhabited as International Man of of Mystery, junior.
It just wouldn’t do.
Then I remembered…

In Italy, as a child, one of my fondest memories was a time a Family Friend, Gulieo, took me driving around Naples and together, shooting a flare gun from his car window, randomly.
It was glorious fun. Unforgettable.

Growing up, thinking about that evening, of laughing and dismissively shooting pyrotechnics at homes of strangers, I wondered if I could get one of those flare guns for my own, as a keepsake.
For most of my adulthood, at least, not easily.
I remembered with unusual clarity many details about it. It’s shape, the small brass blanks that fed through the center, somehow propelling the flare.
Still, where to find it, where to look?

The internet, of course.
Easy peasy.
Yeah, no.

Once I realised, last week, how perfect the flare gun would be to complete my childhood bucket list, I began the search and before long, there it was. The Röhm RG3 blank firing pistol.
Not available anywhere in the U.S.

In Canada though, those nice people to the North.
After a number of attempts at getting them to sell me this harmless little gun, and with growing determination with every denial, I finally found a Wildlife Control Company in the Netherlands that, with proof of age and identity, would ship me one.

Now, to preserve, justify this quest.
A week ago. Michele had a Friend over the house and after a glass of wine, or two, suggested I show our guest my peculiar collection of specialty tissues, in the briefcase.
Instead of the ridicule Michele had hoped, our Friend Leigh Ann actually got it, appreciated what I was trying to do.
Adding that she thought if I were to photograph it, for gravitas, I should add a passport, or three.
Huh… funny you should mention it.

Add One Minox Spy Camera (adult version)



It just so happens, I still had my passport from that very era. And, lo and behold, it’s actually stamped with “Foreign Service” on my photo. Wholly shit, if I’d known that when as a junior spy!!

So…International Man of Mystery, boyhood bucket list. Check!