Rather Lucky Than Good

by Old Dave

Tags: Ma/Fa, Fiction,

Desc: Action/Adventure Story: Old guy goes to the mall encounters a group of terrorists. Saves a young family and goes back to save everyone else. Honest to goodness truth. And I've got some prime beachfront for you. For the most part, written in Georgia English.

Nice summer morning in lovely Peachtree Corners Ga. In the Atlanta area everything is Peachtree something. Gonna be another hot one, here it was just 9:30 and already 85 with 95% humidity. Just walking back up the drive from getting the mail, I saw the annual decal for my license plate was there. I like to renew by mail when I can rather than going to the tax office. Nice folks, but I just don’t like standing in line. Good it came today as the old one expired yesterday. Might as well take care of putting it on while I’m thinking about it. God help you (actually your bank balance) if you get caught driving through Duluth Ga with anything that says “Stop me Officer”. Nothing against the town, but seems live over 30% of their city budget comes from traffic fines. Heard they call their city court Revenue Court. Head on in the house, taking the mail with me. I pulled a few paper towels off the roll and started looking the rubbing alcohal to clean the plate before I could stick the decal on it. Damn it, I know we’ve got a bottle of that stuff here somewhere. After 5 minutes of looking around for the rubbing alcohal, I decided screw it and grabbed my daughter’s bottle of gin. Hey, it’s alcohal and I only need a spoon full or so.

So with the booze and towels in hand, I head back outside. Just as I got to my car, I realized I left the envelope from the DMV inside on the kitchen counter. Back into the kitchen, grab the envelope and back out to the car. The old thing does not look like much, but I really enjoy it. It, my family and my dog are about all that keep me going these days. Back to the car, she’s a 1988 Nissan 300 ZX turbo. Pretty much all original, time to spend some money on the old girl. The cheap ass paint job the previous owner put on her just has not stood up to the Georgia sun. As I got to the car, I opened the driver’s door to hit the trunk release. OK, not a trunk, just a fastback rear window. I walked around to the back and popped the rear window open and laid everything in the car. I unscrewed the cap off of the gin and set the bottle back down on the floor of the ‘trunk’. As I looked at the license plate, I realized I could not put the new sticker over the old ones as they were coming loose and curled around the edges. Into the garage for a scraper then back out to do some scraping. I got the plate scraped clear enough and reached for the paper towels. Except, no towels. Where? Must have left them on the kitchen counter when I went back for the decal. (Have I mentioned I have a one track mind, otherwise known as ADD?) OK, as I headed back in for the towels, out of the corner of my eye, I saw them on the driver’s seat. As I opened the car door and reached inside a sound like a chain saw exploded in my ear. Without thinking, I stepped back and slammed the door. Really can’t describe the sound of eyeglasses being crushed when you close the car door. I knew that was what I just heard. But, why were my glasses not on my face where they belonged? Why did the side of my face hurt? Where did that Damn bee or wasp or whatever it was get to? Guess I must have ducked to get away from the flying buzz saw, I hit my face with the door I was closing and knocked off my glasses. Well, something else to have to do. I headed back into back into the house, get an old pair of glasses so I can see, my pocket piece, keys and wallet.

As I walked up to the car, I decided to pop the T tops off and enjoy fresh air. As habit, I took the driver’s side top off first and laid it in the back. Luckily, I saw the gin bottle and remembered the top was loose and tightened it up. Could have been bad, I mean spilling my daughter’s gin then having to tell her I did. What can I say, the kid (she’s 36) likes her gin and this was some kind of fancy stuff. Should have put it back in the house, but I wanted to get off to the mall and Glassmakers for new specs. So, real quick like, I grabbed the other t top and laid in on its brother in the back. Out of the neighborhood, right on Medlock Bridge Road to Old Alabama Rd. But, Old Alabama was backed up and judging from the multiple sirens I heard, gonna be awhile. Instead, I went on up and took a right on State Bridge Rd, heading over to Gwinnett Place Mall. As I crossed the Chattahoochie, I entered wonderful city of Duluth. Ga. Being a good driver, I double checked my speed to make sure I was below the posted 45 speed limit.

As I started across Peachtree Industrial Blvd, the Duluth cop behind me scared the shit out of me when he hit the siren and lights. Funny how sound comes screaming in through the open T-tops. Once my heart started beating again, I reached up through the open top and pointed to the CVS on the corner. Did not want anyone getting upset. I then eased through the intersection and, after signaling, turned into the CVS parking lot and into a space. The cop pulled in behind me, blocking me in. I killed the engine and patiently sat there with my hands in plain sight. After a moment or two, cop #1 was joined by cop #2 then cop #3. After a few more moments, cop #1 gets out and walks up the side of my car stopping behind the door and me. Number 2 is sliding up along the passenger’s side. I still had not moved, sitting still with both hands on the wheel.

Cop #1, still behind me, said “Mr. Jacobs, are you armed?”

“Yes, officer, I am. I have a 380 automatic in my left rear pocket. In the interest of our mutual safety, may I give you the gun to hold during our conversation?” Obviously, SHE had already run my tag while I was waiting.

“I know you are licensed to carry and have the gun legally, but I appreciate you offer, and if you would, I would appreciate you giving me your gun” she replied.

Still being quite careful, realizing they were ready for any unexpected movement, without taking my hands from the wheel, I asked “How do you want to do this?”

She replied “Just open the door slowly and step out with your hands in sight.”

I looked up at her through the rear view mirror, laughed and said “Officer, me getting out of this car is a little more than just stepping. No way can I get out while keeping my hands in plain sight.”

She then gave a small laugh and said “You are a little low, there, aren’t you? Just take it easy and come on out slowly.”

With that, I told her “I’m gonna use my right hand to release the seat belt then my left to open the door.” Which I then did. When the door was open, I turned in the seat, stuck my feet out the door, bent over and used my hands to push up off the door and the side of the car. (Hey, I’m 64 with 2 arthritic knees.) Once I got my back straightened out and stood up, having seen enough cop shows to know, I turned around and placed my hands on top of the car.

She said, “If you would, please take the gun out of your pocket and hold it with two fingers and I’ll take it.”

“Sounds like a plan”, said I.

So I did then she did, then she said “I just need to pat you down now for my safety.”

“Go right ahead” I told her and she did.

“Thank you Mr. Jacobs, you can relax now. I appreciate your cooperation.”

“Glad to”, I said, “I just want both of us to be able to go home when all is said and done.”

“I’m glad you understand, sir.” she said. “My name is Officer Tower and the reason I stopped you is you don’t have a current registration sticker on you plate. May I see your license and proof of insurance?”

“Happy to”, I said. “My license is in my wallet in my back right pocket. Insurance is in the console in the car.”

“Go ahead”, she said. So I pulled out my wallet and handed her my license. As I turned to get the other stuff, I saw cop #2 pawing through the glove box.

“What do you think you doing?” I asked.

“Just taking a look”, said #2.

“Not without permission or probable cause, neither one of which you have. So just get your hand out and off of my car” I told him.

“Right”, he said with more than a touch of scorn as he stepped back.

With that I reached over and got the insurance card out, turned around and handed them to Office Tower. She took the papers with a raised eyebrow.

“Any reason you don’t have the sticker on your plate?” she asked.

“Chit”, I said with a face plant, “I was in the process of putting the new one on when I broke my glasses, so I stopped working on that to go over to the mall to get them replaced.”

“Well, that was not good, was it?” she asked. “If you have the new sticker with you, go ahead and put it on then it’s no longer a problem.”

“Great, it’s in the back, I’ll do it right now.” With than I reached down and hit the “trunk” release and walked to the back of the car. I raised the rear window, reached in and got the registration envelope. I pulled out the sticker and applied to the plate. “Now nice and legal.”

“Unfortunately, I still have to issue a citation. They won’t let us give anyone a break.” she said as she reached and covered the gin bottle. With the slightest of winks she said “Have a seat in your car, I’ll just be a minute.”

In just three or four minutes, she walked up to the car and handed me the citation and my driver’s license and insurance card.

“Sorry, but they make us write up every stop. Fight it and maybe the judge will give you a break” she said.

“Thanks for the ones you can do” I said. I realized what she did when she covered the gin bottle. In Georgia, it’s against the law to have an open container (of alcohol) in your car. That includes one with a broken seal, even if the top is screwed on nice and tight and the driver can’t get to it.

“Don’t mention it she said. Really, don’t mention it to anyone, OK?” she said. “Here is you piece. You always carry with one in the chamber?”

“Yes, with it being a hidden pocket piece, I figure if I ever have to pull it, it’s got to be ready to go” I said.

She asked, “Out of curiosity, why do you carry? You are not ex police or military?”

“Simple,” I said, “too many idiots out there with guns and not enough of you guys around. Hell, look at me, I’m a 64 y.o. guy who has to use a cane part time. In some areas, that would paint a target on my back. So, how did a nice girl like you wind up as a Duluth city cop?”


“Hey, I’m 65 and you’re pushing it to be, what, 25? I recognize your contribution to society as a fully functioning adult, but yeah, girl.”

“OK, then, old man,” she said with a grin, “Actually, I’m 32, but I’ll let you slide on it. After 12 years in the Army, I got out and needed a job. I met my soon to be wife in Afghanistan. She’s a trauma surgeon and was working there putting injured soldiers back together. She got a job here at the Gwinnett Medical Center, so it just made sense. I’ve with DPD for 6 months and just about had my fill. Some of fellow officers,” she said with a touch of scorn, “are fucking dolts with EQ barely north of baked potato.”

“EQ?” I asked.

“Yes, that’s Emotional Quotient. You know, like IQ, but for ability to interact as a human being.”

“OK, got you,” I replied. “I’ve noticed that about one or two of them.”

About that time, cop #2 yelled at us, “Hey Tower, if you’re finished putting the make on the old man, we’ve work to do. Get your ass in gear.” I heard him mutter, not quiet under his breath “Damn carpet muncher” as he turned and walked away.

“Yeah, keep your shorts on JW, I’m coming.” She turned back to me and said “He thinks I call him that cause his name is Joe Wilson. I call him that cause it’s short for Jerk Wad. Take care, Mr. Jacobs.”

I held up my fist and said “Dave.”

“Beth” she said as she bumped my fist.

Well, having wasted 30 minutes with Duluth’s finest, I started again for the mall. As I passed the closed Pep-boys store, I had a random thought and hitting my blinker, got over in the left hand lane. Coming up to the next light, Howell Ferry Rd., I again hit the blinker and making sure I was past the yellow line and beside the white strip, eased over into the turn left lane. (In Georgia, you cannot use a left turn lane to travel. You have to be within 100 feet of the intersection before you move over. That’s where the yellow line stops and the white line starts. And yes, the fine blue light tax collectors in Duluth will write you up for that in a heartbeat.) My friend, Greg, has a growler store in the downtown area. That’s where you can get 1/2 gallon jugs of draft beer to take home. Part of the process is applying a heat seal to the lid so it is legal to carry in your car. Figured it would be a good idea to get my daughter’s fancy gin sealed up rather than trusting fate.

After stopping by to get the bottle sealed and shooting the shit for a few I headed on over to the mall. With my detour into “downtown” Duluth, I changed my route. I crossed the railroad tracks and followed Hwy 120 over to Satellite Blvd and followed it to the mall. (OK, I left out a few turns, but do you care?)

At the mall, I pulled up to the entrance closest to Glassmakers and went in. Unfortunately, wrong entrance. I was at the food court and Glassmakers was further down. So, I headed on down taking my time and enjoying some people watching. This used to be the hot spot in Gwinnett County. With the advent of The Mall of Georgia a few miles further up the interstate, Gwinnett Place was going through some “transition”. It used to be the whitest place in town but now was quiet diverse, ethnically. No opinion, just an observation. Walking along, I was able to enjoy the sights of cultural diversity. Black, white (redneck and none), Latino and cross cultural Asian. Just a big melting pot.

Finally, I reached Glassesmakers, had an eye exam, selected new frames and paid for my new specs. With the astigmatism and progressive lenses, it was $400 I had not planned on spending. Unless I did something stupid again, they should hold me for a couple of years. With an hour to kill, I headed back to the food court, hit Chick-Fil-A, got a spicy chicken sandwich combo with their waffle frys and a large Diet Coke then started looking for somewhere to sit. I hadn’t noticed how crowded it was. The only available table would seat six, but I did not want to stand while I ate and would be glad to share. And share I did. No sooner had I gotten comfortable, you know, bag open, everything spread out, mayo on the sandwich and open ketchup for the fries, than a mother with 3 kids came up to the table.

“I hate to ask”, she said, “but can we join you? There just are no other tables.”

I looked up and saw tired family, mother and three kids under 6. She looked just a bit frazzled and the kids like they had had almost all the fun they could stand.

I jumped up and said “Please do” as I started helping her put their food trays around the table.

“You sure?” she asked.

“Positive, I like little kids. I’m ready for grandkids, but my children aren’t, so I just enjoy other folk’s kids.”

We introduced ourselves. She was Jana and her little ones were John (6), Janelle (2.5) and Julie (6 months).

Here a wonderful thing happened, John, the 6 year old shared some of his breakfast. Projectile vomit. Real honest to god instant diet plan. That chicken sandwich and fries just did not look at all appetizing covered in puke. Jana started apologizing, on the verge of tears. “Don’t worry about it” I said as I got up, picked up my tray and dumped the whole kit and caboodle into the trash can. Except for the drink. Popped the top off of the cup and poured the diet coke into the trash. Grabbed a handful of napkins, filled the cup with water and headed back to the table. Should have just walked the hell out of there. But no, back to the table and help with the clean-up. No way could I leave Jana by herself to deal with three kids under 6. One of them covered with wonderful kiddy puke. I know, we had just met, but I’m a nice guy. Besides, plenty of people had helped me over the years. Just figured paying it forward was the best way to pay it back.

So there I stood holding a 6 month old while keeping a 2 year old confined to a chair. Mom was trying to clean puke off of her 6 year old and herself. Meantime, I’m just looking around, checking everyone and everything out. Eclectic group of suburban mall walkers, shoppers and hanger-outers. Young, old, black, brown, tan, white, yellow. Male, female and some not so sure about. Our religious diversified community was also represented. A rabbi and priest walking along talking, a Muslim couple with her head wrapped and a group of Sikhs (You know, the Indians with the turbans.) Sales people standing around their stores. Janitor pushing a broom pulling a trash cart. Six janitors sweeping the same hall and passing the over flowing trash cans. Wait, stop rewind. Six in the same hallway passing over flowing trash cans? 95 degrees outside and they are all wearing hoodies? Hey, even I know NOT!! Then I see it. GUN!!

I’m already holding one kid, so I grab her sister by the collar, pulling her straight up out of the chair. Seeing my movements, Jana looks up at me with a what the hell you doing with my kids look. I start moving directly at her. “Leave it all on the table, we gotta get the hell outta here now.” “Walk through the doors behind you, then run like hell.” “Terrorists” I said to her, answering the question written all over her face. As we made it through the door, I said, “Here, take Julie” as I passed the baby over to her. With my left hand free, I pulled my pocket piece outta my back pocket.

Looking at my gun, Jana said, “Do you think you’re gonna need that?” Just as I started to say, “I hope not” I heard the doors behind us hit the walls as they were slammed open, followed by the sounds of gunfire and screams of terror. We hauled ass down the service corridor and out the door.

“Where is your car?” I asked her?

“On the other side, next to Sears.” she replied.

“Can you drive a stick?” I asked her as we ran from the building.


“OK, here’s mine” I said handing her the key to the Z. “Get your kids away from here, somewhere its safe.”

“What about you? How are you going to get away?” she asked.

“I’ll worry about that later” I answered. “Just get away from here and call the cops. Oh,” I said as I pulled one of my cards out of the console, “Give them this number and tell them not to shoot the old white guy in the red shirt.”

“Now get the hell outta here.”

I did not have to tell her again.

I watched for just a moment to make sure she got away. Then turned back to the service entrance where a trickle of folks were running out. As I passed them going the opposite direction, one guy said, “Run for it man, they’re shooting people in there.”

OK, call me stupid. I have no military training, so what am I doing heading inside. Somebody’s got to do something. Right there in the middle of somebody is the word me. And I’m the only me I know. I read in the paper the other day that in an active shooter situation, you run, if you can’t run, you hide and last resort, you defend with anything you can get your hands on. But, I’m gonna be offensive. So I head inside and toward the sound of shooting. Thank god for Tom Clancy’s books, they are what is guiding me. With my gun up in front of me, I continue down the service corridor. Just as I reached the door, one of the “janitors” steps in front of me, facing the other way. Just as he raised his gun to his shoulder to take out some shopper, I crammed the barrel of my pistol into the base of his skull and pulled the trigger. I was hoping that by cramming the barrel into his skull it would hide some of the sound. Don’t know why that seemed important, after all, there was shooting here and there. Before he could hit the ground, I grabbed him by the collar and pulled him back into the service area. I laid him out and checked for a bomb vest. Good, nothing under his hoodie but him.

Then I took a quick look at him. Could have been Middle Eastern, could have been from Ohio as far as I could tell. Took a look at his rifle. I’m no gun expert, but this was not an AK. Not the M16 I had “played with” at the range either. It looked like a newer version. Definitely a military weapon as it had a fire selection switch for safe, simi, or full. Pretty sure in the US normal folks can’t run around with a fully automatic weapon. Maybe you can, but I don’t think so. Checking out the rest of him, he’s got a fanny pack with a Glock 40 cal and spare mags for both the pistol and rifle. Figure I need them more than he does, so I pocketed my 380 pea shooter.

About that time, my phone rings, I hit the button and my blue tooth starts talking to me. “Jacobs?”

“Yeah, who’s this?” “Chief Ayers, Gwinnett County Police” came the answer.

“What can I do for you, Chief? Kinda busy right now.”

“That’s what I needed to find about. One of my officer’s wives, Jana Jones, called 911 and said you were at Gwinnett Place. What can you tell me?”

“Well I spotted 6 janitors who did not look right. One had a gun sticking up out of his trash barrel. I got Jana and her kids outta here and into my car. Once I was sure she was on her way, I came back in.”

“What do you mean back in? Are you inside the mall? Why, you crazy?”

“Yeah, Chief, I’m back in here. How many officers do you have in here?” I asked.

“None, we’re still trying to figure out what’s going on” he replied.

“What’s going on is you’ve got an active shooter situation with at least 5 shooters taking out people.”

“Thought you said 6?”

“One of them gave me too easy of a solution. He’s dead and I’ve got his weapons.” I said.

“What are they using? AKs?” he asked.

“No Chief, that’s troubling me. Looks like US military with a simi / full auto selector over the right thumb position. That and a Glock 40 cal.”

“Any communication gear?” he asked.

“Shit, did not check, just a minute. No, don’t see anything.”

“OK Jacobs, thanks for the info. Now what’s your agenda, you some kind of Rambo?”

“No Chief, I just happened to be here at the wrong time. My only agenda it to see how many other families I can get out of here. Chief, I’m 65 and although I don’t have a death wish but if it happens, it happens. It’s a risk I’m willing to take if I can save some other folks.”

“Just tell your people not to shoot the old white guy the red shirt. I’m gonna follow the gunfire and see what I see.”

“OK, Jacobs, I don’t like having a civilian walking around shooting the place up, but right now you are all we’ve got. Listen, I’m going to put Sgt. Chin on here. Just keep the connection and tell him what you are finding. He’s just going to listen and won’t talk unless you ask him to. That’ll keep the distractions down. Good hunting and be careful.”

With that, I started down the mall listening for gunfire. Unfortunately, I passed several bodies along the way. Looked random. Not like the shooters were picking male or female, young or old. As I paused to listen, I heard a whimper coming from behind a display. Carefully, with the pistol ready, I looked behind the display. There were three young teens huddled together, crouched down on the floor. One guy, two girls. I held my finger to my lips in the quiet sign.

“Are you guys injured?” I asked.

“All three shook their heads, but the guy whispered, “They got one of our friends.”

“Look, I think the coast is clear. There’s an exit right around the corner, get out of here” I said.

I reached out to one of the girls and pulled her up. The other two stood.

“Ready? I’m gonna get you to the door and cover you backs while you run like hell. Questions? Good, let’s go.”

Into the phone I said “Three kids coming out the service exit.”

“We’ve got units on the way,” said Chin. “Tell them to come out running with their hands up.”

I passed the instructions and sent them on. Once I made sure they were on they were on their way out, I turned around and retraced my steps.

Back down the mall towards Glassmakers. Still hearing shots. I looked up to the upper level across the way just in time to see another shooter. Luckily, he had not seen me. I stepped back behind the column next to me and pulled the rifle up and sighted in. One quick 3 shot blast and he fell over the rail to the lower level floor.

“That’s two” I said into the bluetooth.

“Good,” came the reply.

About that time, I heard the sound of gunfire further down the mall. A flurry for, seemed like forever, but probably only 30-45 seconds. I relayed that info to Chin. “Funny thing about that round of gunfire, sounded like several different weapons, not just these rifles. Some big assed booms and some smaller. Whadda you think that means?”

The Chin said, “Maybe they have mixed weapons or, hopefully, you are not the only resistance.”

“If that’s the case, you better pass it on to your guys coming in. Don’t need any friendly fire,” I said.

Where are you?” the Chin asked.

“Lower level, moving towards Glassmakers” I replied.

“Go up to the next level and head for the exit. We have officers coming in that way.” he told me.

“Gotcha, just tell them not to shoot the old guy.”

As I passed the Glassmaker’s entrance, I saw movement in the back of the store. Turning towards the store, I saw another of the bad guys raising his rifle. Unfortunately, he got off a shot before I could and I felt it hit me, in the right shoulder. Good thing I’m a lefty. I got off a couple of shots with the Glock on the way down. Then it was lights out for me.

When the lights came back on, I realized I was in a hospital room. I groaned a little and instantly my daughter was looking down at me.

“Daddy, you’re back, Mom just left. Let me get the nurse,” she said.

She stepped out into the hall and called out “He’s awake.”

That brought a flurry of activity. First the nurses then the doctors. Ann, my daughter was standing over against the wall taking it all in. The nurses gave me a little water though a bent sippy straw and started checking my vitals. A doctor came in looking at his tablet.

“Well, Mr. Jacobs, you had us worried there” he said.

“What happened? Last thing I remember was some one shooting at me” I said.

“Well, yes, you were shot. Tore up your right shoulder, but we’ve got that back together. You’ve got a ways to go with that, still. Unfortunately, on your way to the ground, you hit your head and got a bad brain injury. We’ve had you in a coma for 4 weeks now giving your brain time to heal. At this time, we don’t know what if any long term affects you may have.”

“Where am I?” I asked, “I know I’m in a hospital, but which one?”

“That’s the easy part,” the doctor replied, “You are at the Gwinnett Medical Center in Duluth. By the way, I’m Dan Ulteman, your neurologist for the last month. Welcome back. You will have some physical theropy and some other stuff, but we’ll have to get that lined up. In the meantime, you just relax with your family while we work on getting you back to normal, which your daughter tells us is not really normal. She told us your blood type is AB normal. Abnormal, get it? She’s been very entertaining. Your wife is on her way back up, so, I’m getting the hell out of here while I can.”

“Chicken” I called after him. Did I mention my wife is a redhead?

“Better believe it” I heard come back through the door.

“Hi, Daddy” my daughter said. (What can I say, even though she’s 36, I’m still Daddy. Think it’s a southern thing. No, not that stuff. Jeeze.) “We’ve been worried about you. Did not know if you were going to make it or not. Mom has been worried to death about you, she was really afraid you were going to die before she had a chance to kill you.”

“OK, thanks for that heads up. Even with a case of massive mental fog, I follow you.”

“DAVID” cried my wife Debbie as she came into the room. “You son of a bitch, pull another stunt like that and I’m never talking to you again. Cause you will probably kill yourself. You’ve pulled some stuff over the last 40 years, but this takes the cake. What the hell were you thinking? Or were you?”

“I know, Debbie, sorry, but I had to do something” I said. “I just not run away and let them slaughter a mall full of innocent folks. Like that family I was sharing a table with. I had to try something.

What if you or Ann had been there? I’ld sure as hell want someone to do something. What the hell was that about? How many folks got hurt?”

“Nowhere near what it could have been,” said older police officer as he came in the room. “Thanks to you and 4 others like you, they killed 19. Injured 43. Glad they were lousy shots.”

“Well, that’s good news. Have you figured out who they were?” I asked.

“Some Arian white power group from Montana. Guess they don’t appreciate ethnic diversity in Georgia.” Forgive me, I’m Chief Ayers, Gwinnett County Police. I had just stopped by to check on you and heard you were awake.” he added.

“Good thing you five guys were in there and took action. Of the 9 bad guys, you got 3, including the one who got you. The other 4 got the rest. Y’all had the whole thing stopped before we got one officer into the mall. Guess it does not pay to start shooting up a mall in Georgia.” Ayers added.

Just as he finished, several other officers came into the room. The first one in the door, and attractive young female, said “The dispatcher just told us you were awake.”

Then I realized she was Beth Tower, the Duluth officer who gave me the ticket. “Hey, Beth, how are you?”

“Me?” she scoffed, “I’m a lot better than you.”

“OK everybody,” Ayers announced, “The Dr. Ulteman says we gotta get out of here and give Mr. Jacobs some rest. We’ve got some arrangements to make, Mr. Jacobs, a lot of folks want to meet you and thank one of our hometown heroes.”

With that I heard one of the other Duluth officers scoff. I looked at him and recognized JW, aka Jerk Wad.

“JW,” I said, “you got a problem?”

“Yeah, hometown hero my ass, you’re lucky you did not cause a real fuck up charging in like John Fucking Wayne. And it’s Office Wilson to you.” he added.

He had no sooner closed his mouth than the third Duluth cop, walking in behind him said, “One more comment like that, and it won’t be Officer anything, just Jerk Wad, the former officer.”

With that, JW’s face turned 25 shades of red as he said “Yes, Chief, won’t happen again, Chief, sorry Chief, sorry Mr. Jacobs” as he turned and hurried from the room.

“Thanks, Chief” Beth said shaking her head. “Some people’s children.”

Beth hung back as the other officers left and a different doctor came it.

She smiled at Beth, then to me, she said “I’m Dr. Barrett,” she said. “I’m the one who put your shoulder back together. Reminded me of old times.”

“Oh, you must be Beth’s better half. She told me what you were doing when you met. Thanks for putting it back.”

“You’re welcome, and call me Julie, please,” she said.

To which I said, “Dave.”

She turned to Beth and said, “I’ll call you later. I need to check his shoulder while I’m here and he’s awake.”

Beth stepped over and kissed her cheek and said, “Love you and see you later”.

With that, Julie turned back to me, slipped my gown off my shoulder and started poking and prodding. After a while, she said “looks like it coming along rather well. We’ve got to do some more Xrays and MRIs, but we’ll keep a close eye on it.”

Shortly after she left, my son and his wife came into the room. “Damn, pops, that was some shit you pulled.” Said my son. My daughter in law leaned over the bed and kissed my cheek, “You had us worried there, for a while.”

With just my family still in the room, I asked, “What’s this hometown hero stuff Chief Ayers was talking about?”

Debbie came over and said, “The five of you are being hailed as true heroes. Without what you 5 did, there could have easily been hundreds killed.”

“Yeah, Pops, they had 200 rounds each for the M4s and another 80 for the Glocks. Guess they were slow getting going” interjected my son.

“M4? Aren’t those new US Military gear? How did those thugs get their hands on the?”

My daughter, who had been uncharastically quiet up until this point said, “According Randy Chin, those guns were part of a shipment to Iraq. The Army has a big inquiry going on now.”

“Who is Randy Chin?” I asked.

“You know, Sgt. Chin. He was on the phone with you while you were playing cops and robbers through the mall,” Replied Ann.

“And how do you know Randy?” I asked.

“I have his daughter in AP World History at Norcross. He and I have kinda been talking,” said my single 36 year old daughter the teacher.

“Oh? Well maybe something good will come out of me trying to get killed,” I replied.

“Never can tell, after all he is single. Oh, he wants to meet you, also.”

“Sure, bring him around. We’ll have a party.”

After making sure I was gonna live, Debbie and the kids left to go get dinner and then on home. Her parent’s generation thought if your spouse or kid was in the hospital, you were supposed to spend the night in their room. Thank goodness I had convinced her that was totally unnecessary. I mean, I don’t feel good, don’t want to entertain or be entertained, so leave me alone. How much sleep can she get in the chair in the room? I would rather she go home and get a good night’s sleep. No sense in both of us feeling like crap.

Morning came, bright and too damn early. Also too bright and too damn early were the chipper, happy ‘how are we today’ nurses and assorted medical professionals. How did you sleep ... have a pain pill ... how are you breathing ... better get pulmonology up here to evaluate. Here is breakfast (yeah, right).

Best early part of the early morning was a visit from physical therapy squad. Just in the planning stages or it would not have been a good thing. There were three of them; Julie, the doctor, then director of physical therapy and my sweet heart from the outpatient physical therapy department. While Julie and the director planned the most appropriate torturous treatment for my shoulder, Mary Beth and I visited for a moment then joined the discussion. She had been my therapist after my knee replacement surgeries. Yep, both knees, total joint replacement, three months apart. Back to Mary Beth, she was a cutie, about 5’5” and 120 or so pounds. At thirty-three, she was right between my kids at thirty-six and thirty-one. Loved her to pieces ... as a daughter. After all, we were both married ... to women. Her spouse, Susan, was a massage therapist at another hospital. Turns out Mary Beth was going to do my inpatient as well as outpatient. They don’t normally pull across departments like that, but seems I’m special and Mary Beth volunteered. As they were leaving, I told MB to come back and bring Susan so I could meet her.

Debbie called saying she was on her way and asked if I needed anything. Asked her to bring my cell phone and tablet along with the chargers. Oh, remembering the breakfast, I asked her to swing by Chic-fil-a and grab me lunch. After all, I did not get to eat the last one. The nurses were not happy with me eating smuggled food, but told Debbie to watch closely and if I started choking to call for help immediately.

A disorderly orderly by the name of Joe took me down for MRI or CT scan, don’t remember which it was. They did both my head and shoulder to check my progress. I called him disorderly cause he was cutting up, cracking jokes and one pun after another. Apparently, my personality was known throughout the joint. And I’d been asleep the whole time. Seems my daughter had been talking about me. When he got me back up to the room, Joe told my wife the doctors would evaluate my shoulder scans and let us know. As far as the brain, he said no problem reading that one cause there was nothing there. Me and Rodney Dangerfield, no respect.

I dozed for a while but woke up with Debbie telling me I had some visitors. Jana Jones, the woman I got out of the mall at the start of things and her husband John. They came in to ‘pay their respects’, thank me for getting her and the kids out at the start. We had a nice visit considering they were really strangers, after all, I had just met her and the kids right before things got started.

Then I remembered about my car and asked her “Hey Jana, you still have the Z or did you get it back to my wife.”

“We still have it, kinda,” said John.

“What do you mean, kinda?”

‘Well,” answered John “I really appreciate you saving my family and a bunch of other folks appreciate what you did for the community. We’ve taken on doing what you have not gotten around to yet.”


“Debbie gave us permission to do a little work on it. Your kids guided us on some decisions. Like paint color and stuff. We’re keeping it as close to original design as possible.”

“What are you talking about, John?” I asked.

“Ok, here it is. Jana’s dad is in the auto restoration business. One of the best in the southeast. They have put a hold on all other jobs in the shop. Your Z is getting a complete rebuild. Motor and transmission pulled and overhauled. Stripped the interior. Repainted the whole thing that metallic dark red you like. Under the hood, the door jambs and sides and the interior. Now they are putting it back together. All new interior. The carpet and headliner replaced. Your original seats rebuilt. Covered the door panels and all the other trim. Replaced all the weather stripping and even got the trunk pad under the carpet. Kept the radio with the steering wheel controls but add blue tooth connectivity. Oh, and since you’re getting an extra 150 horses under the hood, they have reworked the brakes and suspension and upgraded the tires.”

“Is that all?” I asked.

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