My wife and I were tooling down I-84 at around 90 MPH in our Chrysler convertible when a red Mustang with two teenagers pulled up behind us, way too damn close at this speed. This section of highway was four lanes each way and with not another soul in sight. The fool behind me honked and I waved him around. He just honked again. Now, this was getting aggravating!
I waved him around, again, and he honked his horn again. Meanwhile, he had moved up right on our bumper. I had no idea what the fool had in mind, but I was getting a bit nervous. This speed was not one to be horsing around, but I sped up to 100 MPH to see what the fool behind me would do.
He increased his speed and honked his horn, again. OK, that was enough! I turned to my wife in the front passenger seat and said, "Honey, please make that damned fool go away. I can't do anything but drive at this speed."
Elizabeth drew her .44 Magnum from her shoulder holster and turned in her seat. She carefully lined up her shot and put a bullet through the idiot's engine block. His car sputtered to a stop and we drove on. We were far out of range by the time they got their pistols out. Just another reason to drive a convertible!
It all started back in June of 2008 when the Supreme Court broke the back of the gun control laws. By 2011, there were no restrictions on who could own or carry a gun. The self defense argument had grown from inside the home to anytime at any place—if you were legitimately in danger, you were free to defend yourself.
First, in small towns, and later, in larger communities, the local government realized that they could save a lot of tax money if citizens would take over their own protection. Police were taken off handling routine cases of individual endangerment; if you were in danger, it was up to you to protect yourself. No more calls for spousal abuse—you've got a gun, use it! No more calls for house break-ins—you've got a gun, use it! No more calls for robberies at small businesses—you've got a gun, use it! And so it went. Police still investigated murders, arson, or other big crimes that a citizen could not be expected to handle, himself, but the small stuff was no longer on their action list.
The principle was carried to extremes. No more traffic laws, just a suggested code of conduct. Any accidents on the highway were between you and your insurance agent. It was amazing how much tax money was saved by getting rid of traffic cops. No driver's licenses, no license plates, no car inspections—all of these things saved tax money. What more could the public ask for?
My wife and I had taken advantage of the current situation by forming our own protection agency. Almost any person over 14 years old carried a gun. This made the whole country a lot more polite and considerate of the other guy, since he might take offense and blow your stupid head off. Women were just as well armed as men, and most of them were just as good a shot. Furthermore, they were just as likely as men to start a confrontation with a gun. The major advantage of all this, was that teenage girls were finally being reasonably polite, for fear of being shot for pissing somebody off.
Anyway, my wife and I worked mostly as bodyguards for people who could not or would not take care of themselves. This usually meant that our clients were either very young or very old. As a general statement, we simply acted as an extension to our client's gun hand. We were deadly with any hand gun or long gun, be it rifle or shotgun, and we were quick draws that usually intimidated our opponents.
In this case, we were headed for Hartford, Connecticut, to protect a family that was involved in a neighborhood feud. That sounds kind of a silly reason for a shooting feud, but that's what our country had come to. Somebody was putting bullets through windows at night; that was livable, but the family feared that Molotov cocktails would be next. The basic hitch in the whole thing was that nobody knew exactly who it was who was doing the shooting. We had been hired to find out who was causing the problem and put a stop to it.
The people under attack had no idea who they had offended nor what had triggered the attacks, but they wanted them stopped. We pulled up to the gates of an estate which had a 12-foot-high stone wall around it. It was still before dark, so nobody was expecting trouble, and we had no difficulty in gaining entrance to the estate. Fortunately, there was a carriage house which was now used as a garage which blocked the line-of-sight from the gate to the house, so a gunman had no chance of shooting from the gate.
So far, all of the shots had to have come from trees outside the high wall surrounding the house. As soon as we had introduced ourselves and gotten moved into our room, Elizabeth went through the house looking for weak spots and I walked the perimeter to check on the trees. After that, I had the gardener lean a ladder against the wall so that I could walk around on top of it to see what the chances were of somebody getting over it.
The few trees that lent themselves to being shooting platforms could not be easily climbed, even by someone unencumbered by a weapon, so whoever was climbing to do the shooting had to be young and limber. My first thought was that it was a rejected teenaged suitor after one of the two girls in the family. I made a note to ask about that possibility.
A ladder or a climbing rope was required to climb any of the probable trees, but once in the tree, there would be no problem to get onto the wall. Another rope would get an attacker down to the ground and make it easy to enter the house. I was going to suggest that all of those trees be cut down. All of the trees were on private property, so I thought that the request was reasonable and would be honored.
There had been an attack from the trees every night that the weather had permitted, so I planned to post myself on guard outside the wall to watch the trees this night in hope of catching the shooter in short order. If I did catch him tonight, I would not be affecting our bill very much, since we always charged for a week's services and took our money up front.
Elizabeth and I ate dinner with the family, the husband, James Bonner, the wife, Elsie Bonner, and the children, James, Jr., Holly, and Gloria. Holly and Gloria were both knockouts and in the right age range to attract teen lovers who were likely to do something stupid. No Bonner business was discussed that night at the dinner table, but Elizabeth and I did relate some of our more amusing cases to the delight of the kids.
After dinner, I went out and placed myself in a strategic location to apprehend anyone who climbed one of the trees. I stayed out for some time, but never saw anyone approach any of the trees. No shots were fired at the house, so I wondered if I had been spotted. Well, there was no way to tell, this time. I would just have to try again. Then it dawned on me that the word could have leaked that we were there to protect the family, so whoever was doing the shooting was laying low.
It was still early, so I went back in and asked to talk to James, Sr. and Elsie. "Mr. Bonner, did you tell any one, any one at all, that my wife and I would arrive today?"
"No, absolutely not!"
"And you, Mrs. Bonner, did you tell anyone?"
"No, of course not!"
"Please, this is very important, did either of you tell anyone at all about our arrival?"
Elsie said, "Well, I may have mentioned it at my Contract Bridge club, yesterday. Conversation can wander over cards, and I may have said something, but I can't remember, for sure."
"Very well, let's assume that you did say something, just for the purpose of covering all of the bases. Please make a list of the people who were there; it might provide a clue as to what's behind all this."
Meanwhile, Elizabeth had been talking to the children, and they all insisted that they had not told anyone. We had our doubts about that, but what can you do?
Two days later, there were still no more attacks and we were sure that there would not be any as long as we were around. So we hatched a little plot. I discussed the plan with Mr. Bonner and announced at dinner that night that we could not do anything more, so we were leaving. Without actually saying so, I let it be known that the Bonners were free to discuss us and our leaving with anyone they wanted to. We made a big deal out of leaving that morning, but just drove to a nearby motel and checked in. That night, just after dark, we went back to the Bonner's estate and hid near the trees were we could see any shooter who showed up.
Sure enough, somebody showed up about an hour after dark. He was carrying a rifle with a silencer, it looked to me like a 30-30, but I could not tell for sure. He was in a van with a ladder on the back so that it was easy to climb to the roof. On the roof of the van was a sturdy rack for carrying heavy and bulky items, an ideal platform for climbing into any one of several of the trees about the property.
A person got out of the driver's seat and climbed the ladder with the rifle slung over his back. He climbed onto the roof and then to the tree. He went up a couple of more limbs, and he was high enough to see over the wall. While he was climbing the tree, I ran to the van and put a calthrop under the front and back of a rear wheel where he was not likely to spot them until the tire was already punctured. To add insult to injury, I unscrewed the valve stem from the front tire on the same side. This truck was not going anywhere.
We did not have long to wait. About 15 minutes after the gunman had shown up, there was a muffled POOF sound, and the shooter hurriedly climbed back down and entered the truck. I drew my pistol and ran toward the truck as the gunman tried to drive off. Of course, it got nowhere, since there was a flat front tire and a rear tire going flat. I didn't notice the brand of truck, but it must have had a piss-poor engine, because it stalled under the influence of the two flat tires.
The driver was frantically trying to restart the engine when I ran up and tried to open the door on the driver's side. It was locked, so I smashed in the glass of the window with the butt of my heavy gun and stuck it in the face of the driver. At this point, I was stunned. I yelled, "LIZ, GET HERE AS FAST AS YOU CAN!"
My wife ran up and I pointed to the driver, it was a teenage girl! I said, "Just to make sure that there are no side issues, you make the arrest and search her for weapons. I don't want to give anybody any excuse to accuse me of manhandling a female."
She agreed and opened the door after she reached through the broken window and unlocked it. Both of us had the girl covered with our guns during this process. By this time, the girl had started to cry, but my wife very efficiently checked her for any concealed weapons. She pulled the girl out of the van and cuffed her hands behind her back.
She frog-marched the girl to the gate and I rang for entry. I explained who we were and that we had caught the shooter. Somebody should please open the gate so that we could come in. When the gate opened, the girl began to struggle violently, but she had no hope of escaping my wife, who has the grip of a professional rock crusher when she wants to.
We went to the house with the girl in hand and were met at the door by Mr. Bonner. "Franny, what are you doing here?" he asked in considerable surprise. She didn't say anything as we pushed her into the house.
The whole family was gathered in the family room where we set the shooter down, and I said, "Now, talk!"
She just hung her head and cried. Gloria said, "Franny, I thought you were my best friend. Why would you shoot at us?"
The girl finally stopped blubbering and said, "I ... I ... I'm sorry. I didn't want to hurt anybody. I was just trying to scare you into moving away, somewhere out of town."
Elsie Bonner asked, "But, Franny, why would you want to do that. I thought that you and Gloria were the best of friends."
"We are! Were. She has been cozying up to Jack Hawkins, who was sweet on me. I was afraid that she would take him away from me if she stayed around. She's much prettier than I am, and I was sure that she could get any boy that she wanted."
"Oh, Franny, I was just flirting with him a little bit. I had no intention of taking him away from you. I thought you knew me better than that. You know that I like to flirt, but I don't mean anything by it. Shit, Franny, I knew that you and Jack had been sneaking off to fuck whenever you could get away. I wouldn't break up any couple that was fucking so regularly!"
Elsie Bonner said, "GLORIA, WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE! I've taught you better than that. You know that ladies don't say shit in public!"
"I'm sorry, mother. I forgot in the heat of the moment. Franny, are you still mad at me?"
"No, I guess not, now that I know that you weren't trying to get Jack for yourself."
Mr. Bonner said, "Mr. Brewer, I think that we have found the cause of all of our problems and have straightened them out. Since this was only a case of girlish infatuation and jealousy, I think that we can drop the whole thing and go on about our lives as before. I want to thank you for the quick and sensible way you have solved our difficulties, and I will be adding a substantial gratuity to your bill. Please release Fanny, and we will call this case resolved. Is that agreeable with you?"
"Yes, Mr. Bonner, we will find that a most reasonable termination to the case. Good night to you all, and we hope that you never have need of our services again." My wife and I left for the motel where we had rented the room. The next morning, we left to return to our home in Worcester, Massachusetts.
We were home by noon, and I, for one, was glad to be back a couple of days early. I was lying back with my feet propped up, watching a Red Sox game being played against the hated Yankees. The Sox had fallen on dark times ever since Big Papi had retired, and it was a pleasure to see them giving the Yankees a real drubbing for a change.
RIIING! Dammit, why would my cellphone have to ring right in the middle of the game, but I didn't dare not answer it. My curiosity would nag me for days if I didn't find out what this call was all about. "Hello ... Yes, this is Henry Brewer speaking. What can I do for you?" I knew it was business, because all of my friends call me Hank.
The voice on the other end of the line seemed to talk interminably; thank God, I was recording the game so I could gloat over the defeat of the Yankees at my leisure. "Yes, both my wife and I are currently available for a contract ... Dinner? Yes, we could meet you at 8:00 PM at the Worcester Station Pub ... Thank you, Mr. Johnson, we'll be there."
I hung up and called out, "HONEY, WE HAVE A DINNER DATE AND AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS A NEW CONTRACT! PUT ON YOU FANCY EATING CLOTHES! WE HAVE TO BE THERE IN THREE HOURS! I'M GOING TO SHOWER!
"I NEED TO SHOWER, TOO! I'LL MEET YOU THERE IN FIVE MINUTES!" The shower took nearly 45 minutes by the time we were both clean, inside and outside. Man, I love those big hot water heaters.
We were dressed, out the door, and at the restaurant in plenty of time. Mr. Johnson was already seated at a table where we joined him. This was a weird job, a politician and his wife had been challenged to a duel and they wanted us to stand in for them. Normally, we don't take political jobs and we don't take on duels, but Johnson insisted that this was just a formality. We would just show up to represent our clients, and the whole thing would be settled without a shot being fired.
Now, I don't trust politicians as far as I could throw Faneuil Hall in Boston. I just knew there had to be a catch to this. I said as much to Mr. Johnson and warned him that if there was a fuck-up, I'd be looking for his employer no later than the next day. He kept assuring me over and over that there was nothing shady or hidden about this contract, it was purely a political back scratching deal.
I was still dubious, but we agreed to the contract at double our usual rates.