Monday, June 16, 2014


Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

I have in my possession a vintage pair of Smith & Wesson(yes the folks that make guns) Model 94 
Maximum Detention handcuffs.

Back when I got them, some 30+ years ago...they were the end all and be all of handcuff technology. 

Tube keyed and nickle plated steel.

Supposedly impossible to pick.

I did not buy them, they were about $85 back then...
No, they were gifted to me, and therein lies a tale...

It was the spring of my senior year, doing optional semester with Oakland County Sheriff's Dept. and working my after school job at Gell's Sporting Goods.

On Saturdays I habitually worked a 12 hour shift, 9-9.
This made for a long day, but I worked with a great group of people(for the most part) and we had a lot of fun!

I had gotten a new Assistant Manager, up from our store in Livonia named Steve Borza. Steve was in his late 20's...a red haired, brown eyed fella with pinched ferret-like features, and tons of nervous energy! Steve had one true love in his life...The Beatles! A fount of knowledge about the band, their songs, movies, you name it!!!

This particular Saturday, it was just Steve managing the store as the manager was off, and the other assistant was on vacation.

I was, as usual working the gun counter on the far side of the store with my buddy Mike Dumas.

The morning had been busy, but as usual. Around 3 o'clock, maybe three thirty I saw a youngish black fellow squatted down looking at our revolvers through the glass showcase and stepped down to see if I could help him.

"Good afternoon," I said "anything I can show you today?"

He didn't answer, but slowly stood.
He was a good inch or two shorter than me, 5'9" or so and slight of build. By his dress, he appeared to be not too well off...not a judgment, but as a salesman you learn to access the person you're dealing with.

His attire was budget store chic. Navy work pants...a little big, maybe second hand. Black converse sneakers, a green and red striped pullover shirt(ala Freddie Krueger) and an army surplus OD green knee length overcoat, open, completed the look.

He pointed through the glass and said:

"May I see that one?" Pointing to a S&W model 28 "Highway Patrolman", a 4" barreled .357 magnum popular with police depts. across the country at the time.

I unlocked the case and removed the gun he indicated, checked it was empty and handed it to him butt first.

He took it from me, examining it closely opening the action, trying the trigger, the things a "normal" buyer does.

Then he did something normal buyers DON'T do...
With the gun in his right hand, he raised it and put the barrel to his temple and pulled the trigger 6 times...
"Click, click, click, click, click, click"

"Yep," He said "that'll do...."

I snatched the gun away from him, as other customers and Mike looked on in shock.

"What the Hell are you doing man?!?"

He just looked at me and shrugged, turned and walked away...
I watched him until he was out the front doors and out of the store.

Steve had been in the back of the store when this happened, and Mike and I told him what had happened. So should this guy come back, he'd be prepared if the guy asked Steve to show him anything.

A couple hours later, I was in back on my dinner break when Steve sent one of the other guys to come get me. When I found Steve he was watching the guy I had waited on earlier. I went over and asked him what was up.

He told me this guy had in fact returned, and asked him to see the exact same gun. Having been forewarned he had declined, saying he had heard what he had pulled earlier and would not be showing him ANY guns. Instead of leaving...the guy was now "creeping" around the store...
Steve tasked me with shadowing him until he left.

When I went over and asked if I could help him, he asked:

"Oh, you work over here too?"

I allowed that "Yes, I work the whole anything you need, I can help you."

He meandered through the store, stopping every now and then to examine something that caught his eye...all the time mumbling to himself.

He went back to hockey, through camping, and baseball...where he looked at a couple bats (I half expected him to start smacking himself in the head with one).

When he went into shoes, I broke off and told Steve that perhaps we should call the cops...this guy's not right, and I'm getting a really bad vibe off him. Steve was hesitant as the guy had not actually done anything yet.

When I turned around, I had lost sight of him...a quick search put him back in the boxing/weight lifting area. As I walked up on him he was standing in front of the barbell rack. Picking them up one at a time, checking their price tag before setting them back in the rack.
Finally settling on the 15 pound cast iron dumbbell.

"I've been needing one of these..." he said to me.

"The cashier will be happy to ring you up at the front of the store sir." I offered, hoping against hope this foolishness was over.

"There is one other thing I need..." He replied and headed back towards the gun dept., weight in hand.

I caught Steve's eye and mouthed "Call NOW" and he headed towards the phone.

Our overcoated weirdo headed up the aisle right for the case with the revolvers in it.

At the last minute he stopped and started looking at the books and magazines on a spiral rack at the end of the aisle and I took the opportunity to put my self between him and the showcases.

He picked up a book from the rack and held it up like he was intently reading the cover, but when I looked at his eyes he was starring back into mine. In that instant,the hatred that flashed across his face made me think the dumbbell was intended for me. Time slowed...

He flung the book towards my face and launched the weight as hard as he could towards the glass showcase. There was a deafening crash of glass as the weight smashed through the case, and the glass selves collapsed sending thousands of dollars worth of guns into a pile at the bottom of the case, covered in broken glass.

Thinking he had distracted me, he launched himself towards the now open showcase. What he had not counted on was me ducking like my life depended on it...which I thought it did if he was swinging that weight for my head. The book sailed harmlessly past my head.

As he passed me I got both hands full of the front of his coat, redirected him and using my own body as a fulcrum used his momentum against him to spin him around and slam him into the wooden counter, knocking the wind out of him. He went down on his knees but tried to spring up and away from me. I brought my left elbow down hard between his shoulder blades, the blow driving him back down. I grabbed his left arm, wrenching it behind him. Twisting, I brought my right forearm across the back of his neck and shoved his face into the mat, pinning his right arm with my body and holding him there with my weight. He went limp and stopped fighting.

Steve was at the counter where we landed, and was momentarily stunned by the sudden turn of events.

"Get me a set of cuffs!" I said to him...he just stared at me.
"Steve!" I repeated loudly "Cuffs!!!" 

He snapped out of it, opened the case and tossed me a set of the cheap $20 handcuffs we sold. I released the pressure on the guy's neck and snagged them with my right hand. 

"Don't move" I told him, increasing the pressure on his left arm.

I put the cuffs on him and got him to his feet. Searching him, I found no ammo...that was a good thing.

"What's the matter with you?" I asked him.

"I did it for my girlfriend...I have her picture in my pocket." He said pointing to his breast pocket with his chin.

There was but one piece of paper in his pocket, with one picture on it...this one! No Shit!

"This is all that's in there.." I told him.

"Isn't she pretty?" He answered.

We took him back to the office to wait for Waterford PD, which was a short wait as Steve had been on the phone with them when the showcase collapsed.

He was arrested, charged with attempted armed robbery and assault and taken for a psych. evaluation, or to sober up if he was in fact high.

A week later when I came into work the owner of the store was in, Steve came and got me and told me solemnly they wanted to have a little talk with me before my shift...certain I was going to catch hell for something, I followed him back.

In the office were the Manager, the owner Robert Gell, and the two Assistant Managers.

I wasn't in trouble. 

Instead they thanked me for stopping what could have been a very bad situation.

"Steve tells me you're taking Law Enforcement training through school, is that right?" The owner asked.

"Yes sir." I answered him

"Then these will come in handy," He said reaching into his pocket
"I hear they're the best they make!" Handing me the distinctive blue box.

"Thank you Robert!" I said, shaking his hand.

"Don't thank me...Thank Steve, it was his idea and he ordered them."
I looked to Steve.

Steve gave me a wink "You earned them buddy!"

Months later, I was at the trial...expecting to testify when I was told it had been plead down to "Malicious destruction of property, over $1000" He was given a year...and didn't end up serving but about 8 months.

So there ya have I came to own a pair of one of the best handcuffs ever made.
Though I know some of you will think this instead...
Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear



  1. The Mrs. saw the cuffs and got frisky.

    Thank you!

  2. You are a magnificient story teller. I read your posts with a knot in my stomach. So eloquent, such detail, I feel like I'm there. Great post! As usual. You should be writing crime dramas!

    1. WOW, Thank you MA!!! It means so much to know that you enjoy these...
      I am so flattered by your words, thank you again!

  3. Holy crap on a cracker!!!! That was really the pic in his pocket? A gorilla face? hahahahaha

    1. That was the exact picture JoJo, but that's not just any gorilla...that's a still from the original King Kong!!!

  4. You've had quite a lot of excitement for being such a laid back, funny kinda' guy. ;) Love, love, love this post.

  5. See and here you thought I was just a funny Drama club geek! Lol