I always considered myself to be just an ordinary guy. Like everyone else, my life had its ups and downs. Maybe I had more downs than most, but that's the way it goes. The best part of my life seemed to be the earliest. I was born David Alexander Duncan, in nineteen seventy-nine. My parents owned and ran one of the two drugstores in our small town, and we were comfortable enough.
I had the usual childhood, and was an average boy. In fact, I was too average. I had average friends, made average grades, and didn't stand out in any way. Being average isn't anything to brag about.
I didn't get into any university, and settled for attending the local community college. That was where I found my niche. Purely by accident, I discovered I had a talent for writing software. Web design, in particular, fascinated me. I actually began to apply myself to my studies, something that was entirely new to me.
I'll never forget the day I made the dean's list for the first time. It should have been an occasion celebrated with my parents, but fate took a different turn. I rushed to the store with the report, only to find it sealed off behind crime scene tape.
Things were a blur for a while after that. A policeman, who looked not much older than I was, gave me the gory details. Some drugged up thug decided he needed more medication, and didn't feel the need to acquire a prescription. He didn't leave, however. Unfortunately, neither did my folks.
The security cameras dad had installed just the year before, told the story. It looked like mom reached under the counter. The robber probably thought it was to hit the alarm button. He was right, but he still shot mom. Dad, hearing the shot, grabbed the .38 he kept in the pharmacy and ran to the front of the store. In the exchange of gunfire, both my dad and the junkie were fatally wounded.
I didn't have any family to lean on. I was an only child of two only children. My grandparents were all gone, too. Somehow, I made it through the funeral. Afterwards, the first thing I did was to sell the store, and the house. I just couldn't deal with the memories.
The only thing I kept was the hundred and fifty acres we had in the country. It would have been unthinkable to sell that, since it had been in the family for generations. All the time I spent there, had been good. It was where I learned to hunt, fish, and just plain relax. I couldn't live there, though. I closed up the house, and rented an apartment.
Most of the cash I received went into stocks. Purely on a whim, I chose internet companies I believed showed a lot of promise. I had no Idea how much money I would make, and frankly, I didn't give a shit.
Knowing my parents would have wanted me to stay in school, I did. I even graduated third in my class, and went on to get my bachelor's degree and webmaster ticket. I also made a big mistake.
I guess the loneliness finally caught up to me, and I got married. It took about a week before I discovered how big a mistake that was. Before long, I was glad the job I landed after graduation required extensive travel. Every second I spent at home was an ordeal. Because Cindy was such a bitch, I never mentioned any of my investments.
The arguing was constant, and started during the honeymoon. The first issue was guns. I had never made a secret of the fact that I owned, and used them. I even let her in on a secret that no one else knew. I had a carry permit, and was never without at least one weapon. I was a lot like my father, and refused to be an easy target.
When I informed her that the guns were there before she was, and would stay regardless of whether she did, things went downhill fast. It seemed like the whole courtship had been an act on her part. She wanted to change me, and I was not receptive.
Children were an issue, too. While we were dating, she adored them. Now, she refused to have any. I quickly discovered that we had absolutely nothing in common, and I was miserable. I began sleeping in a separate room when I was home, and avoided her as much as possible.
I even took precautions with my computer, and password protected everything I could. I think it was the mail that tipped her off. Whatever it was, she found out about the investments. By this time, the one point five million in insurance money had turned into more than ten. She did some investigating, and found out some disturbing facts. Chiefly among them, was that she couldn't get her hands on it if we divorced. There was only one solution, in her mind.
Cindy wasn't quite as intelligent as she thought, however. The 'hit man' she hired was an undercover cop. The divorce went smoothly, and she got fifteen to twenty in the state pen.
During the trial she tried to say that I was a gun fanatic, and she feared for her life. The jury didn't buy it, but my employer turned out to be almost as anti-gun as she was. They gave me an ultimatum. If I carried a weapon while working, I would be terminated. My response was to resign, and they were happy with that. That is, until all of my accounts went with me.
I opened the old house in the country, and fixed it up. The T-1 line served me quite well, and I worked from there. I don't know if most people would call it work, though. The maintenance and updates took about twelve hours a week.
I began restoring cars, just to stay busy. Having sworn off women, I had plenty of free time, and built a range to practice on. There were a few glitches along the way. One of them was the electric company. They felt that I lived too far off the beaten path for them to read a meter, and started estimating the usage. Naturally, the estimate was three times what I was actually consuming.
I tried to be rational, but they wouldn't budge. I think they regretted that later. In less than a month, they were buying my excess electricity. I covered the entire roof with solar panels. With just me, I had a lot left over. As a kicker, by law they had to read the meter every month. They were not happy. I was, and that's all that mattered to me.
My only companions were of the four-legged variety. Devil and Angel were Siberian Huskies, and great dogs. Most of the time, I didn't miss people at all. I had to rig up a feeder for them, though. My work still required some travel to meet with clients. There was a spring, so I didn't need to mess with a watering system. They could probably feed themselves, too. Game was abundant on my place, and they got pretty good at catching rabbits.
My trips provided some interaction with others, and I even invested in some 'short term companionship' during these excursions. I still got horny, I just didn't want complications. I kept those instances as far from home as I could, though. I only went to town for shopping, and that only happened twice a month.
You can only stumble through life 'fat, dumb, and happy' for so long, I guess. Reality bit me in the ass one fine spring day. I needed some groceries and a new pair of coveralls, so I decided that a trip to town was called for.
I dressed as usual, complete with the Smith and Wesson model thirteen. I wore that in a shoulder holster. I had a smaller thirty-eight in my right front pocket. With a T-shirt under the holster, and a denim button up over it, nothing showed. I decided to hit the mall first.
'Situational awareness' is something most concealed weapons carriers practice daily. I was no exception to this, and paid attention to things around me that seemed out of place. As I entered the mall, one of those things rang an alarm bell.
It was seventy-five degrees today, and the guy who entered ahead of me was wearing a long coat. It wasn't heavy, but it was way too warm for the weather. I might be a semi-recluse, but I kept up with the news. I figured the best place to be was behind this individual, at least until I was satisfied he just dressed funny.
I wish that had been the case, but it wasn't. He seemed to be walking with a destination in mind, so I almost relaxed. It was at that point he pulled a pistol from under his coat, and started to point it at a group of people. I reacted immediately. I had trained myself for just such a scenario, and my response was automatic.
Because there were people in front of him, I went to one knee as I drew. The last thing I needed was for my shot to either miss, or go through him. The thought of accidentally hitting an innocent was abhorrent. That was also why I chose a head shot. It wasn't the best target, but the angle assured that if I missed, the only victim would be a ceiling tile. I didn't miss, but before I could appreciate that fact, something struck me in the back.
I knew I'd been shot. I guess my vaunted "situational awareness' needed some serious work. I fell on my right shoulder, and saw another guy dressed much like the first one. He was lining up on me again, so I took the only shot I had. I wanted to put him down as fast as I could. With this angle, that was a shot to the pelvic area. My first one was low, but the second one was better. I was still too slow to keep him from getting one more round off. The lights went out pretty quick after that. I figured I was dying, but didn't care all that much. I worried about my dogs, though.
I woke up staring at a blindingly white tile ceiling. If that hadn't tipped me off, the rails on the bed sure did. All the beeping and shit was probably what woke me up. There were tubes everywhere, and machines galore. It couldn't have been more than fifteen seconds after my eyes opened, before a nurse was there.
I couldn't say hello, though. There was a damn hose in my throat, too. I'm sure she realized the reason for my silence, as she explained.
"Mr. Duncan, I'm glad you're back with us. You had us quite worried for a while, but you're going to be fine. You're in I.C.U., and fresh out of surgery. Pretty soon, we'll move you to C.C.U., and the doctor will tell you more, OK?
She had been busy during the monologue, doing the normal checks of blood pressure, temperature, and stuff. I managed a nod, and even that hurt a bit. It was a couple of hours before I was moved, but I didn't mind. I slept through most of it. I guess I was still drugged up pretty good.
I was coherent enough when the doctor came in, but I didn't think it was the doctor. I first thought they had some damn nice looking nurses, until the pretty little redhead started talking.
"Hi", she began, "I'm Dr. Randolph, and I'm the one who operated on you. I'm sure you're curious as to how screwed up you are, so I thought I'd drop by and give you the poop."
I would have smiled, if I had been able. I liked this lady already.
"You were shot three times with a nine millimeter", she continued. "One was a complete through-and-through. Thankfully, it missed everything but your left lung. Another one was little more than a graze on your left side. The third one caused the most damage. It broke your humerus. That's in the upper arm, by the way, and severed your brachial artery. You lost a large amount of blood before they got to you. If it hadn't have been for one of the women nearby, you would've probably died. She applied a tourniquet in time to save you."
She paused for a moment, and I was worried what else she was holding back. I guess she saw the look on by face, because she smiled.
"You're going to be fine, Mr. Duncan. In fact, I bet you get out of here in under a week. I'm sorry if I caused you any worry, I was just woolgathering. I want to tell you that I'm very glad you were there yesterday. You've got an extra large pair of brass ones, sir. A lot of people could have died, if you hadn't stepped in when you did. Everyone here at the hospital wanted me to thank you. If there is anything you need, you'll get it. We're going to take the breathing tube out, and move you to a private room. I'll be by to see you after you get settled in, OK?"
I nodded my thanks, and she left with a grin. Damn, she was cute! I dozed off again, and only woke when they removed the garden hose. The chipped ice helped, but I couldn't talk much. An hour later, I was in my room.
I had a visitor waiting for me. I had expected the police to show up, but not this soon. He looked kind of familiar, and I hoped he wasn't here to tell me I was under arrest. He must have seen me study him.
"Looks like you might remember me a little, Dave", he said. "We met a few years ago, under some difficult circumstances. It seems to have happened again."
I remembered, now. He was the cop who tried to comfort me when my parents were killed. He was going a little gray around the edges, and was wearing sergeant's insignia, but it was him.
"Yeah", I croaked. "Sucks, doesn't it? Can you tell me what happened, and are you here to read me my rights?"
"That's rich", he laughed. "Dude, if we arrested you, there'd be a riot. You'll be lucky to get out of this without the mayor pinning a badge on your ass! I know you don't have a clue what those two had in mind, so let me fill you in."
"Their plan was to have the first one open up on the crowd. The second one was supposed to hide. When swat showed up, they planned to start killing cops. Both of them had an AR-15, and our body armor isn't the best in the world. It might have worked. By the way, how did you know they were wearing armor?"
"What?", I managed, "They were? I didn't know that!"
He looked puzzled. "Then why the shot placement? I figured that's why you shot them where you did."
"Pure, dumb, luck", I admitted. I didn't want to risk hitting anybody else on the first one, and on the second, I didn't have any choice. What happened to them, by the way."
"Both D.O.A.", he sad with a smile. "Society owes you a debt of gratitude for adding a little chlorine to the gene pool. I'm kind of curious as to why, though. I mean, what made you get involved? You could've just walked the other way, and nobody would have known."
"Sorry", I explained, "that's not the way my folks raised me. I wouldn't have been able to look at myself in the mirror, if I had run. Is that a problem?"
"Oh, hell no!", he was quick to reply, "don't go getting the idea you're in trouble or anything. Shit, when word got out that the hospital was low on blood, every cop in the precinct who wasn't on duty lined up to donate. That was before we searched their houses and found out what they had planned."
"Then why are you here?", I asked. "I mean, I appreciate the visit, but what's up?"
"Precautions", he sighed. "The chief wants to make real sure they didn't have any friends. Until that's settled, we'll have a man on the door. I don't think there's a problem, but we're not taking any chances, you know?"
My reply was interrupted by the entrance of the doctor. She gave the sergeant a dirty look, but I spoke up before she could say anything.
"Doctor Randolph, I'd like you to meet my old friend, sergeant Grayson. Sergeant, this is the beautiful and talented Doctor Randolph. She was kind enough to work on my gnarly old body, and piece it back together."
The sergeant chuckled at her blush, and said "Pleased to meet you, Doctor. I'll leave you two alone, now", and slipped out the door.
"I see you have your voice back", she huffed. "I think we have you on too many pain killers, but thanks just the same."
"Hey, doc!", I'm serious here. I don't feel all that bad, so you obviously know your stuff. I'm kind of curious how somebody as young and pretty as you can be so good at what they do, though. Were you one of those child prodigies or something?"
"You know", she retorted, "if you hadn't included the talented part, I'd be pissed. I get hit on all the time, and it gets old. I'll have you know that I'm the same damn age you are, mister. Not only that, but I went to school with you! You don't even remember me, do you?"
"I find it hard to believe, but no", I admitted. "I generally walked around with my head up my ass, though. I wasn't exactly the most attentive pupil in the school. Besides, I doubt you were in any of my classes. I was in the 'dumb track'."
"Oh yeah?", she growled, "what about homeroom and study hall? I had both with you junior and senior years. You don't get off that easy!"
I studied her for a second, and then it dawned on me. "Tammy? ... Tammy Fitzgerald? ... Whoa! Yeah, now I remember. You're the cute red haired girl that I was afraid to ask out. I felt like frickin' Charlie Brown. Your husband is a very lucky man."
That admission seemed to take her by surprise. She sat down as if stunned, and said "What? ... ME? ... But, why? NOBODY ever asked me out! Hell, I didn't even grow breasts until my sophomore year in college! What would make you too scared to talk to me?"
"Brains", I admitted. "You were so damned smart, and I was an imbecile. I had a thing for brains, and I still do. Girls like that weren't interested in a loser like me, especially pretty ones. You were way out of my league, and I knew it. Looks like I was right, too! Look at you now! Is your husband a doctor, too?"
"I don't have a husband", she mumbled before looking at me. "I mean, I used to, but he couldn't deal with residency. He left me a year into it, and I haven't heard from him since."
"I guess you do like idiots then", I quipped. "Because he surely qualifies. Only a moron would leave someone like you."
She brushed that off with "Yeah, right!", and asked "What about you? Why hasn't your wife and family been in to see you? Are they out of town?"
I filled her in, and she apologized for asking. "Don't worry about it", I told her. "It's all water under the bridge. I don't know if it's proper, but I wonder if you would consider going to dinner with me sometime? After I get out of here, I mean. Whenever that is."
"I think I'd like that", she said with a smile. "We'll talk about it after I release you, though. I can't get involved with a patient. Ethics, you know?"
"I'm looking forward to it", I assured her. "When can I escape, by the way? I've got a couple of dogs that are going to be getting hungry pretty soon, and there's no one else to take care of them."
Maybe your policeman friend could take care of it", she suggested. "If not, I'll do it, if you want me to."
"Sorry doc", I chuckled (damn, that hurt!). "That's not a good idea. They're friendly to strangers if I'm around, but mighty protective of the place if I'm not there. They're likely to make 'kibbles and bits' of anybody they don't know. I'm sure they'll be OK for a day or two, but I don't know about any longer. They can hunt for themselves, but I'd rather not leave them alone for any longer. They know when I'm going to be away for a while, and didn't expect me to be gone long this time. They'll be worried about me."
It was absolutely true, too. When they saw me pack, it wasn't a problem. They knew I'd be away for a week or so. I didn't have a suitcase when I left, so they were probably wondering where the hell I was.
"I'm sorry, Dave", she sighed, "but you're not going anywhere for at least a few days. The chest tube won't come out for two days yet, and then we have to keep monitoring you until we're sure there's no infection. It would be too dangerous to let you go any sooner."
"I was afraid of that", I admitted. "Could you ask the sarge to come back in?"
I outlined the problem to him, and he had a solution. It was simple, really. He would drive up to the house, and toss a fifty pound bag of dog food out the window. It might not be elegant, but it was almost foolproof. He might not even get bit.
I asked him about my weapon, and got the answer I expected. My model 13 was being held as evidence. So was the 442 hammerless I had carried in my pocket, along with the Spyderco Delica folder. He promised to let me know when I could pick them up, and didn't think it would be long. I wasn't being charged with a crime, and the investigation was almost complete.
I took the opportunity to ask him something that had been bugging me since the shit hit the fan. Why didn't I see the other guy?
I found out that at least it wasn't because I hadn't seen him. They had entered by two different doors, to keep from standing out as much. It made me feel a little better, anyway.
After he left, Tammy informed me that there had been several attempts to visit me, but they had been turned away. None of them were family. Most were people who had been at the mall, but others were reporters. I was glad they hadn't been let in to see me. I don't know what I would have to say to people that had witnessed the shooting, and I definitely didn't want my story in the paper.
It showed up anyway, of course. It was also the lead story on the television news. I turned the channel to a cable news network, only to see it again. I ended up watching the history channel. That didn't bother me, since I watched it all the time anyway. It was disturbing to have my name on the national news, though.
I tried to contemplate the reason I had hit on my doctor. I hadn't asked a woman out since college, so why now? I think the truth was in what I had told her. I really did have a crush on her in high school. I was serious about the rest of it, too. I had thought she was a living doll, but way out of my league. I could've kicked myself for not asking her out back then! She sure had turned out well.
Eventually, the pain got to me. I used the morphine pump, and was asleep before I knew what hit me. I woke up in time for dinner, such as it was. I would be on a liquid diet for a day or so, and it wasn't much. I drank it, though. I was starved. I almost used the pump again afterwards. Not from pain, but out of sheer boredom.
I was happy when sergeant Grayson dropped in for a visit. After informing me that his name was Phil, he told me about his trip to the cabin.
"I barely got out of there alive!", he chortled. "Those dogs of yours are something else, I tell you! I couldn't get the bag out of the window, because I couldn't open it far enough. Hell, I had to call for backup! I had a buddy take the wheel, and we did a 'drive by feeding'. I tossed it out while we were moving, so they couldn't get in. You don't have much trouble with burglars, do you?"
I admitted that there hadn't been a problem for quite a while, but I thought it was because I was so far from the road. I doubt more than three people even knew the place was there.
"There will be more, now", he warned me. "Reporters are like that. They smell a story, and they won't let up until they get it."
"What can I do about it?", I asked. "I don't want to be bothered with those people. Can't you make them leave me alone?"
"'Fraid not, Dave", he admitted. "Unless they break a law, we can't hassle them. We can keep them off of your land, since it's posted, but you're fair game, in town."
"What can I do?"
"Talk to them. Pick one, and do an interview. One's enough, and should satisfy them."
"But I don't want to!", I complained. "Surely they'll get the hint, after a while?"
"I'm sure they would", he said, "but is that the best way to handle it?"
"What do you mean?"
"Think about it. You have a real chance here to make a point. You know how many folks out there are dying to paint all concealed weapons carriers as some kind of gun nut who's just dying to shoot people. Let them see you for what you are, instead of letting them use their imagination."
Maybe he was right. Hell, he probably was. That didn't mean I had to like it, though. I asked him for a name, and sent him for Tammy. She didn't like the idea any better than I did, but admitted that she thought it wouldn't endanger my condition any. I had her set it up for me.
They didn't waste any time, and were there the next afternoon. Phil had made a wise and informed decision in his suggestion of the local news reporter. Tom Kendall had always impressed me as being fair, for a reporter. I hadn't known he carried, as well. That particular item never came up, of course.
I made sure everyone knew the story was an exclusive, and that I would speak to no other news source. The interview went very well, I thought. Afterwards, I wished I had kept my mouth shut. That night, I was national news again.
Every outlet seemed to show the interview, and they all talked to witnesses who had been at the scene. They made me sound like a cross between Rambo and James Bond, or something. The only part of the whole thing that was satisfying to me came from them, though. The honest gratitude made getting shot a little less painful.
As soon as the news ended, I was treated to a sponge bath. I thought using the bedpan to take a dump was bad, but this was even more embarrassing. They really should use ugly nurses for this, but I think they enjoyed torturing people. If it hadn't been for the catheter, the cute brunette nurse would have caused quite a reaction. Nothing could persuade Willy to get rambunctious with a tube rammed down his gullet, though.
The next day, I had the chest tube removed. As an added treat, Willy was freed! I had to have an escort, but I could now take care of the necessities in the proper manner. That was even better than having the breathing tube removed.
As soon as Tammy told me I could get out of bed, I did. I wasn't too weak, since I hadn't been laid up that long. Walking felt great, once I got my balance back. I did it as often as I could, but refused to go into the hall with my ass hanging out.
Thinking about that brought another problem to mind. How in the hell was I going to get home? Not only did I seem to be without any clothes, but transportation, as well. Phil had offered to bring my car from the police lot, where they were kind enough to store it for free, but that wouldn't work so well. It was a nineteen sixty-nine Mustang Mach I, and a four speed. I couldn't drive it with my arm in a cast. I had just finished restoring it, and drove it to the mall as a road test. I was stranded.
I related my dilemma to Tammy, and she came through in a big way. She volunteered to buy some clothes for me, but that wasn't all. She insisted on driving me home. The only stipulation was that we used the Mustang, and she got to drive. Now I knew I was in trouble. She was a car nut!
Freedom was sweet, and so was being fully clothed. I had to ride to the car in a chair, but that was normal. The ride home was anything but. The 'Stang had a 428 Cobra Jet in it, and it would scream. Once Tammy hit the highway, she decided to see how loud it could yell. I just held on for dear life. I thought I drove fast!
I was worried about Devil and Angel, but they took an instant liking to Tammy. They seemed to bask in her praise when she remarked how gentle they were with me.
"It's like they know that you're hurt!", she had said. "Those are some really smart doggies!"
They lapped it up, and followed us inside. The first thing I did, was head for the kitchen. I wanted some real coffee, and needed to get something out of the freezer for dinner. Most of the stuff in the fridge was borderline, so the dogs were going to get an extra treat that night. By the time the coffee was done, so was I.
Tammy and I talked until my stomach interrupted the conversation. I took that as my clue to start dinner, and asked her if she would stay. She accepted, but only if I would "Keep my ass in the chair and let her do it". So, we kept talking, and I told her where things were. I found out that she could not only cook, but knew what to do with venison.
"I'm just a country girl", she told me. "I used to go hunting and fishing with my dad all the time. If it's edible, I've cooked it."
I ate more than I should have, but less than I wanted. My stomach had shrunk a bit in the hospital, I suppose. Tammy wouldn't even let me help clean up, afterwards. I did manage to get her to sit down after she finished. We talked a bit more, and as the sun went down, I asked if she needed to leave yet. I had a couple of vehicles with automatic transmissions that I could drive.
She looked a bit embarrassed, and said "Dave, I have a confession to make. You really shouldn't be out of the hospital, yet. I only agreed because I knew you wanted to come home so badly. I wonder if you would mind if I stayed here for a couple of days, just to be sure you're alright? I can sleep on the sofa, if you agree. It would make me feel a lot better about things."
"Tammy", I replied, "I haven't said this for a very long time, but for once in my life, I'd appreciate the company. Forget the sofa, though. There are four bedrooms in this place, after all. What about clothes, and work?"
She actually blushed when she said "I took a weeks vacation, and snuck a suitcase into the trunk before you came down. I don't want you to get the wrong impression, though. I fully intend to sleep in a different room than you, and am not doing this for any other reason than my concern for your health, understood?"
"Damn!", I said with a chuckle, "Just my luck. I get a beautiful woman to move in, and she turns out to be the motherly type. Don't worry, I promise to be a gentleman. By the way, I'm assuming that you released me from the hospital. Does that mean I get my answer about dinner?"
"After you're better", she said coyly, "we'll see. I'll go get my things, now."
When she returned, I showed her the bedrooms, and offered her the choice of which to use. She decided on the one that had an adjoining bathroom with mine "just in case I needed her".
The first awkward moment came at bedtime. Getting undressed wasn't bad. I had to get Tammy to unbutton the shirt, but with the right sleeve cut off it wasn't hard to remove. She had bought sweat pants for me, so that wasn't an issue either. The problem was that I felt filthy. I could smell myself, and it wasn't pleasant. I asked if there was any way I could take a shower.
"Absolutely not!", was her answer. "I could cover the cast and stitches", she informed me, "but you wouldn't be able to move well enough to wash yourself. If you tried, you would probably pull some of the stitches."
Reluctantly, I conceded the point. I had one good arm, but there were twenty-three stitches on that side. Fifteen on my side, two on my back, and six on my chest. I couldn't stretch very far without feeling them pull.
"What am I supposed to do?", I whined. "I smell like a Sumo wrestling locker room! I can't sleep like this!"
"There IS one solution", she said with a smirk. "I can bag the arm, and tape the wounds. Then you could sit in the tub and I could wash you."
"Oh yeah?", I retorted, "What if I want to take a shower, instead? I hate baths. I never feel clean, afterwards. Sitting in dirty water doesn't do the job."
The smirk was still there, when she replied "Fine by me. Wait here, and I'll round up the stuff to get you ready."
My mouth was still open in surprise, as she sashayed out of the room. I thought for sure she would balk at that idea. In fact, I had counted on it. I admit that a certain part of my anatomy was looking forward to showering with Tammy. I seriously doubted she intended what I wanted to happen, though.
That smug look of hers was driving me nuts, as she got me wrapped up. When I was forced to drop my pants, I thought I saw her eyebrows rise a bit. I couldn't help it. I didn't get shot there, after all, and the equipment was fully functional. Some things just can't be helped. The fact that she was wearing a robe didn't make matters any better.
The water felt fantastic, but I couldn't enjoy it. I was watching Tammy. I had to laugh right along with her, when she dropped the robe. She was wearing a conservative one-piece bathing suit!
"Gotcha!", she chortled. "I bet you thought you were going to get a show, didn't you? Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not that easy."
Chagrined, and obviously busted, I admitted "Hey, I'm only human, and a male, too! I must admit, the thought of sharing a shower with a beautiful woman brought certain impure thoughts to mind. Especially when I've crushed on the lady for quite a few years."
She turned scarlet, and said "Turn around, you smooth talker, and point that thing in a safe direction."
The shower was exquisite torture. Tammy was gentle, but there was not even a hint of any extracurricular activity. By the time she finished, I was looking forward to bedtime. I had one good hand, And I had plans for it this evening. Even in the suit she had on, she was something to see. Too bad I couldn't see more of it!
I offered to return the favor, but she politely declined ... damn it. Worse, she left the bathroom doors open, so she could be sure to hear me if I called. That put a damper on my plans to lessen the pressure. I really didn't want to get caught jacking off. Especially when she would have to know who was starring in my fantasies.
Even being in my own bed didn't help me sleep. It's pretty hard to find a position that's comfortable when you have holes in you. The arm didn't help much, either. Finally, after what seemed like hours, I got to sleep.
That was the first night I had the dreams, or should I say nightmares? They were far worse than what had actually happened. The worst was that, this time, I missed. That wouldn't have been so horrific, if I hadn't hit an innocent bystander. There were variations of this, all night long.
When the dogs woke me up, I felt like shit. To make matters worse, it sounded like we had a trespasser. I managed to get a pair of sweat pants on, and hurried to help some dumbass not get eaten for breakfast.
Tammy was at the door when I stumbled in, and held out her hand. I hadn't even remembered grabbing it.
"Good idea", she said, "but unless you're a lefty, I'll take that."
I was holding my night stand gun, a Colt Python. I must have done it subconsciously, because I usually grabbed a shotgun in situations like this. I looked at her, and she must have read my mind.
"Yes, I can shoot. Now, hand it over."
I complied, and thought 'Damn, what a woman!'
We found the 'visitors' up a tree, about fifty yards down the driveway. They were scared shitless, and screaming for help. The dogs sat down and shut up, as soon as they saw us.
I looked up in the tree, and saw two teenage girls. I was kind of pissed, and didn't feel like hiding it.
"Are you two girls illiterate, or do you not understand 'No trespassing', and 'Beware of dog'?"
"We're sorry", the one closest to the ground whimpered. "We just wanted to see you! We didn't mean any harm, honest!"
"What is so important about seeing me", I asked, "that would make you risk being eaten to accomplish the task?"
"We had to thank you in person, for what you did!", the one on top sobbed. "You saved our lives in that mall! That guy had his gun pointed right at us when you shot him!"
"Shit", I mumbled, "just what I need. Groupies"
Tammy heard me, and cracked up. I couldn't help myself, and chuckled along with her, before saying "OK, come on down. These vicious beasts won't hurt you. Not unless I ask them to, anyway."
That didn't seem to reassure them much, but they slowly descended. After the mutts allowed the girls to pet them, they turned to me, and stared. I guess I was quite a sight. I didn't have a shirt on, and my eyes probably looked like a road map of Cincinnati.
"Wow", the taller one said. "You really got messed up, didn't you? I'm sorry you got hurt, but I'm really glad you were there to help us. That's why we had to see you. We had to say thank you. Are you mad because we came? We'll leave now, if you are."
"No", I sighed. "I'm not mad. I just don't like the dogs to eat uninvited guests. It makes a mess, gives them the runs, and the paperwork is awful. It takes most of a day to deal with it."
This time, the younger one caught on, first. "Very funny", she snickered. "They wouldn't have hurt us at all, would they?"
"Yes", I said seriously, "They would have. They're trained watchdogs, and they will protect the place. Most of the time, they'll just run folks off, or tree 'em like they did to you. Those that they can't run off, are in for a very bad time, though. Now, why don't you two come on up to the house. I haven't had my coffee yet."
They chattered on the way back, and there was a funny moment or two. Especially when they assumed that Tammy was my wife. I don't think they believed her story, which I found even more amusing.
Tammy made some coffee for us, but the girls accepted the hot chocolate that was offered as an alternative. I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed visiting with them. They were good kids. Their hearts had been in the right place, even if their judgment had been a bit faulty.
They had left heir bikes down the driveway, when Angel and Devil had surprised them. Tammy offered to give them a lift home, and I volunteered the use of a truck. I didn't expect to get roped into going along. At least the truck was a king cab, so we weren't crowded. I even endured meeting their folks, and that wasn't too bad, either.
We had a nice visit with the Morgans, but the thing that pleased me most, was the favor they asked of me. They wanted to learn how to shoot, and to get their concealed carry permits. The adventure at the mall had served as a rude awakening that you needed to be prepared to defend your family. I explained that I wouldn't be in shape to help them for a while, but gave them the number of the fellow I knew who was a good instructor. I got three gentle hugs and a handshake, before we left.
On the way home, Tammy asked why I was so quiet. "Just thinking", I sighed. "I don't regret what I did, but it's nice to know that most folks don't think I'm some sort of crazy person. You'd be amazed at how many people look down their noses at those of us that carry."
"No I wouldn't", she said. "I've heard it all. They spout their uninformed opinions, cite made up statistics, and don't know shit about history. When somebody like you comes along and pokes holes in their theory, it pisses them off. I know you didn't pay attention to the news after your interview, but it was kind of funny."
She laughed at this, and went on. "Before it aired, I saw crap on the news that depicted you as some sort of vigilante character. Kind of like that movie, you know? Anyway, when you showed up on T.V. all shot up, and were so well spoken and intelligent sounding, it changed a few minds. The fact that you came across as just an average guy doing what he had to, did wonders. They say that permit requests are up by a third this month. I don't think that's a coincidence. Maybe personal responsibility will grow a little, at least locally."
"What about you?", I asked. "How do you feel about us 'gun nuts'?"