(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Procopio, the bartender of a small, isolated mountain town, well known among his clientele for keeping up with the community’s daily gossip, re-creates the incidents that led to a man’s death. Because the details in the newspaper are skimpy, the bartender’s story explains how the dead man’s luck changed for the worse the day he found a mysterious pistol. From that moment, the man, who had been a reserved outcast from the community, was known as the man who found a pistol.

The narrator feels a mysterious interest in Procopio’s story, because he also has found an enigmatic object. He remembers an incident that took place in an isolated area in the Jemez Mountains. During a car trip with his wife, he stopped to eat lunch by a stream, where he found a double-bladed ax submerged in the water. Wondering about the ownership of the worn-out tool, far from a camp or logging area, he took the ax out of the water. At that moment, he felt the uncomfortable sensation of being observed. Afraid, he put the ax back into the stream and left the place at once.

Meanwhile, the narrator learns from Procopio about the man who found a pistol. The man moved to Corrales, wishing to find peace away from the busy university town in which he worked as a teacher. His daily routine took him to Procopio’s bar after his afternoon walk along an irrigation ditch, located in a remote part of town. In the ditch he found a pistol, and after futile attempts to find its...

(The entire section is 559 words.)