There has been plenty of speculation about the identity of Gays Mills’ self-professed crime fighter, who calls himself Black Bullet, since a story about his communiqués ran in the June 19 edition of the Independent-Scout. While that speculation may continue or even grow, the story took a new twist Monday afternoon on Main Street in Gays Mills, when a man dressed in black approached this editor claiming to be “the Bullet.”
After a quick lunch at the newly opened Brewster Coffeehouse, located in the back of the Kickapoo Exchange Food Co-op, I was approaching my vehicle to return to the Independent-Scout office. As I crossed Main Street, I saw a man dressed in black step forward from the old Crawford County Highway Department/DNR Office, located at 208 Main Street.
“Hello,” the man said. “I just want to thank you for the story about me in the newspaper.”
“Oh yeah, no problem,” I replied, beginning to grasp the situation at hand.
“I’m the Bullet,” the man added quickly, trying to make it clearer for me.
“The Black Bullet….” I managed to say.
“That’s right,” he replied.
I began to study him more closely, making some mental notes about his appearance. He was dressed entirely in black, including a pair of black fingerless gloves. He also wore black military-style boots, black fatigues and a black hoodie with black-framed, wraparound sunglasses.
Between the sunglasses and the hoodie, it was hard to get a good look at his face. Nevertheless, both in his features and in his speech, he appeared to be a clean-shaven white man in his late teens or early twenties with short light brown hair. He spoke well and appeared ever so slightly nervous at one point holding one gloved hand with the other.
Yet, he spoke carefully and with confidence about the deteriorating situation he saw in “his town.” He explained he wanted to do something to stem what he saw as an increasing crime rate during the time he would be “in the area.” The voice seemed to match the voice left on the Independent-Scout voicemail a few weeks ago.
If the man who referred to himself as Black Bullet was playing a prank or putting on the community with his act, he was doing a good job of it Monday on Main Street. The Bullet never broke character. He never smiled or laughed. In short, it was a near-perfect performance.
“Well, I would like to talk with you about this more,” I said. “Would that be possible?”
“Yes, I’ll talk with you about it,” he replied.
“Well, what about today, this afternoon?” I asked.
The abruptness of the question seemed to catch him off guard. Then, he seemed to recover.
“No, not this afternoon I have some things I have to do,” he said and I got the distinct impression the Bullet may have had to go to work later.
“Do you have a personal phone number where you can be reached?” he asked.
“Uh sure,” I said and I gave him my cell phone number, which he wrote down in a small spiral notepad and repeated back to me. He thanked me and as we said goodbye, he began to walk east on Main Street toward the corner of Rebecca Street.
I got into my vehicle, which was facing westbound and started the engine. In the rearview mirror, I could see him walking around the corner in front of the former Nuzum’s lumberyard, heading northbound on Rebecca. I did a U-turn on Main Street, but when I got to the corner of Rebecca Street and looked down the block he was gone. Perhaps, he had ducked down the alley and cut through the former lumberyard. I made no attempt to search for him, but instead returned to the office and recorded some of my recollections of the encounter.
Although I had given some thought to taking my camera with me on my lunch hour trip to the coffee shop and post office, I had decided against it and left it setting idly on my desk.
I had encountered Black Bullet on Main Street and it did not seem at all random. He appeared to know where I was or at least know it was my vehicle. He also knew I was the editor of the paper and was responsible for publishing the content of his posted notes and a voicemail message left on the office phone.
There was a surreal quality to the meeting with Black Bullet that I can’t quite shake. I stood on Main Street in Gays Mills at 1 p.m. on Monday with an individual completely clothed in black claiming to be a crime fighter, called Black Bullet. I gave him my cell phone number, so he could call me in the future and we could talk more. However, no one else approached or seemed to notice.
I had arrived in town about a half hour before the encounter and dropped off some newspapers to Kay Smiley at her Make n’ Mend sewing shop located in the former village office. It’s just one door down from where I was parked and talking to the Bullet. I had seen Joe Brandt return to his Village Greenhouse en route to the Brewster coffeehouse in the back of the food co-op. I had seen Ellen Brooks and her husband Dave Hackett talking with Bob Brewster who was working at the cash register in the co-op.
In the coffee shop, I had placed an order with Brewster’s teenaged daughter.
Then, I had left and picked up our mail at the post office and saw postmaster Diane Roy. I returned to the coffee shop, ate the sandwich and saw Don Lampert come in and order. All of that seemed so ordinary, but then I was on Main Street with Black Bullet and although those people were nearby, no one seemed to be around as we talked.
There were no doubt others on Main Street in Showen’s office or Tia tending bar at the Last Call or Jim Chellevold and his crew at the Kickapoo Locker butchering meat. Further down the street, Bernice Lund was probably sitting behind the counter at the Apple Valley Veterinary Clinic and maybe Dr. Dudgeon or Dr. Anderson were there treating animals. Then, there were the many residents of the old village, anyone of which may have been at home. However, on Main Street in the middle of day on Monday, I seemed completely alone with a young man clad entirely in black and claiming to be the Black Bullet, the local crime fighter.
Then, he disappeared down a side street and I felt like I had to pinch myself to make sure this was real and had actually just happened in the middle of the day on Main Street in Gays Mills.