Alexander Wright was a locomotive fireman in Bristol, Virginia. Wright loved practical jokes, until one joke went horribly wrong. On a mild November day in 1903, he walked up to a stranger and asked, “Do you know what a flinch is?” The man looked at him in question and Wright shoved his Derringer into his chest. The stranger jumped and Wright laughed, “Now, that’s a flinch!” It wasn’t enough to perform the same joke once. Wright pulled the same prank on a number of people he knew, getting the same reaction each time.
Wright eventually found his friend, John Beckner, in Brady’s Saloon on State Street. He couldn’t resist the temptation to pull the same practical joke on him. He met the Beckner, asked the question, and drew the weapon quickly. For some reason, the gun went off and Beckner was killed instantly.
Wright waived his right to a preliminary trial on November 15, 1903. He was sentenced to three years in the Bristol jail for voluntary manslaughter in March of 1904.