Barry pointed at the Judge. “I still want to have a look at what’s inside those boxes.”
“You will not set foot on this plane without a search warrant. And I am prepared to defend my property.” The Judge stepped back and grabbed his Colt revolver from the inside of a nearby cabinet.
“Well, it just so happens that I do have a warrant to search that plane of yours, Mister. And you better have a permit to carry that pistol in the state of Utah.”
The Judge was momentarily flustered but regained his composure quickly. “It is a registered antique and I do indeed have a permit to carry it for personal protection. I often transport valuable commodities aboard this aircraft – as I am, in point of fact, doing today.”
Barry walked over to the cabin hatch and looked up into the storage bay packed with large boxes. “Oh yeah? Well, I’m a real connoisseur of old firearms. It’s sort of a hobby of mine.”
The Judge passed the weapon over to Barry. “It is a breech-loading Colt, complete with pearl inlay pistol grip. I purchased it several years ago at an auction in Odessa, Texas. A story also came with the piece. This gun was originally made for General William Tecumseh Sherman, who used it during his march to the sea during the Civil War.”
Barry’s eyebrows raised with genuine admiration. “God-damn, that’s a pretty piece.” He aimed it up at the sky and sighted down the long, black barrel. “Boy, it’s got a nice feel to it, don’t it?” He lowered the antique firearm and laid it inside a nearby shelf. “I’d feel better if we left the gun right here for now – you know, where I can keep an eye on it. Tell me, Judge, do you have any other weapons onboard this plane?”
The Judge eyed the sheriff with contempt. “The Colt is more than enough, thank you.”
“So, watcha got in the boxes, Judge?”
“Cultural antiquities,” replied the Judge matter-of-factly.
Barry smiled and nodded his head as if that was exactly what he had expected to hear. “You mean old Indian pots and stuff like that?”
“How about opening that real big box sitting right behind you there?”
The Judge towered didn’t budge. “I think you better show me your search warrant first.”
“Glad to,” grinned Barry as he climbed aboard the jet with a grunt and handed the warrant to the Judge. “Now Judge Cram, the local magistrate, he’s one of those judges who likes to work with the police – if you know what I mean.” Barry winked at the Judge and began walking around the cramped storage area. “I think I’ll just have a look around here for myself. I don’t get the chance to see the inside of a fancy plane all that often, you know.”
The Judge tried to remain calm; he knew he was rapidly losing control of the situation. He focused on the official document and looked for a potential loophole, but everything appeared to be in order. It authorized the Sheriff to search his airplane for drugs, weapons, or prehistoric artifacts. He considered shooting the chubby policeman, but he would never get away with such a desperate act. If he was going to get out of this bind, he would have to do it with silver-tongued guile.
“The items in these boxes have all been excavated from my ranch in Tropic. My property there contains several outstanding Anasazi ruins which I have been digging for the past three years. As you are no doubt aware, I am free to do as I wish with any cultural resource which I am fortunate enough to find on my private property, and I have never made it a secret that I own one of the finest collections of ancient Indian artifacts ever assembled in the Southwest. This particular shipment is on its way to my home in Scottsdale, where it will be catalogued and prepared for display in my own personal museum.”
Barry carefully removed a pair of yucca leaf sandals from a large box. “You found these up in Tropic?”
“That is correct.”
“Barry frowned. “You have papers to prove that this whole shipment came off your ranch?”
“Of course I do.”
“Let me see ‘em,” said Barry as he held up a brightly-painted ceramic ladle and whistled with appreciation. The craftsmanship was superb.
“You will have to excuse me a minute, Sheriff; the papers you have requested are in my briefcase up front.”
“While you’re at is, why don’t you bring along that gun permit, too, so I can make sure you’re all legal in that department.”