When the secretary returned, I commented, "I know those girls from someplace, but I can't remember where."
To this she replied, "You've seen those pictures in the newspaper. Those are my daughters, the ones who were killed on the old Chain of Rocks bridge."
"Oh," I said. Then, "I'm sorry; I didn't make the connection."
"That's okay," she said. "Don't worry about it."
I was horrified. I felt like I could have crawled in a mouse hole. When I told a friend about this, he put his hand over his eyes and said, "Oh, God."
The old Chain of Rocks bridge, which in far north St. Louis, was closed down sometime in the '60s. We used to party on it in high school, hundreds, sometimes a thousand of us. These days it is a bike and walk-way from Illinois to Missouri. In between the end of the parties and the start of the bikes, it was known for one thing: two 19-year-old girls (who weren't twins, but just looked a lot like each other) who were murdered on it.
They were, like their mother, less than five-feet-tall, and less than one-hundred pounds. Tiny little girls. I've worked out with weights that weigh more then they did.
They had taken their visiting cousin, a teenage boy, to show him their poetry they had written on the bridge. I don't remember exactly what it was about, but I believe it was the sort of idealistic "We can all get along" poetry than teen-age girls sometimes write.
While they were on it, four teen-age boys found the girls on the bridge, raped them, then threw them over the side. The drop to the Mississippi is about 70 feet. I have been on that bridge many times, and I wouldn't want to jump off of it. I'd live, because I could make it to the shore. . .but two tiny girls wouldn't be able to.
Only one body was ever found. Their cousin was made to jump over the side, but he was able to swim to the shore.
The police found all four boys rapidly. Like all criminals, they were stupid. One left his flashlight with his name on it on the bridge. All of those over the age of sixteen were convicted and given the death penalty; the 15-year-old got 30 years.
One of the rapist/murderers was executed, and swore right up to the point the needle was stuck in his arm he was innocent. Which he wasn't.
The leader got life in prison, because his IQ was so low and he was abused as a kid. However, he was smart enough to try to cover his crime. He wasn't retarded, just stupid.
The 15-year-old boy got 30 years but was let out after 15. He was going to be paroled earlier but said he didn't want out. Guilt, I suppose. When he did finally get out he wrote the family a letter of apology.
The other three never admitted their guilt or showed any remorse or contrition.
When people tell me they are for gun control this is the case I always bring up.
If those girls had had even a two-shot .22 derringer on them, they would be alive today. Criminals are not only stupid, they also cowards. Even if they had shot the leader – who almost always has the biggest mouth – the rest would have run.
Even if they would have had a knife with a big enough blade – maybe three, three-and-one-half inches – they'd probably still be alive.
When a version of this article was published, I made a bet with myself that at least one idiot would email me and say it would be a bad thing for those girls to have a pistol. I got only one, fortunately, but I did win that bet.
I was reminded of that old saying that a liberal is someone who would rather see a woman raped and strangled with her own pantyhose that see her defend herself with a pistol. I believe L. Neil Smith originated it, and he also called me "a gentleman and a barbarian," which made me smile.
I sometimes have this fantasy I run across this scene, and just happen to have my .357 Sig Sauer on me. The one I load with Magsafes, frangible ammo that are like little shotgun shells. I think I would make all four of those boys jump off the bridge. And if they didn't, I'd shoot them in their both their feet and then their knees. I'd have to reload, but that's okay. And then I'd disappear, and nobody ever finds out who I am.
I have yet to find anyone who can come up with a reason for gun control.
I'll be waiting for the rest of my life.