Mr. Vanilla
Chapter 1

Copyright© 2013 by SidHalley

Action/Adventure Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Dave McGowan, an entrepreneur and good guy has a side most of his friends don't know about. The walls in his compartmentalized life begin to crumble when his actions reveal more about him than he wanted people to know, threatening his secret.

Caution: This Action/Adventure Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa   Fa/Fa   Consensual   Romantic   BiSexual   Heterosexual   Violent  

Dave McGowan looked across the table at his girlfriend of three weeks and had a feeling about what was coming from her expression. It was Friday night and he had made reservations for a nice restaurant, but about an hour before he picked her up, she called to say she didn't feel like dressing up and would meet him at Denny's. Now here they were looking at a menu and she was definitely uncomfortable even though she was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans. She still looked hot. She was a tall, strawberry blond, thin without being too thin, long legs that he loved. Her breasts weren't large but they were firm and perfectly shaped. In fact Peggy Killian was definitely the sexiest woman he'd dated. Until this change tonight he thought things were going well between them.

He'd been through this before so he knew the signs. Peggy started to speak a couple of times, and then finally said "I'm sorry Dave. There's no easy way to do this. I'm breaking up with you."

"Do you mind telling me why?" he asked more calmly than he felt.

"Dave, look you're a good guy, but we're not right together. I'm looking for some passion and you're more of a regular guy. You're vanilla. Vanilla is fine but I want the emotional cherry and hot sauce too. I'm sorry but after this past month it doesn't seem like you have them. You have a steady job, you're decent looking, you're good in bed, but you just don't get excited about anything including me. Except for your scars, you're the poster-boy for average American male. For some women, I'm sure you're the perfect guy. I'm sorry I'm just not one of them. Look, I really do like you and hope we can still be friends."

He couldn't believe she'd tear into him this way and then expect to be friends. At least the other women tried to share responsibility for the relationship not working. Dave looked at her and suddenly snapped, "NO! We can't be friends I'm fed up with this shit. I'm friends with all my past girlfriends and you know what I get out of it -- I'm the one they call when their toilet is backed up, a bug needs killing, or they need a shoulder to cry on. Maybe if you weren't so willing to give up after three weeks, you would have had time to learn more about me. Just because I control my emotions doesn't mean I don't have them." Then for the first time when a woman broke up with him, he stood up and left.

Dave pulled into the municipal parking lot behind the EWA building an hour after he walked out of the restaurant. It wasn't his normal Tuesday evening, so he wondered who would be around on a Friday night. He locked his car and looked around carefully. The neighborhood wasn't very good to start with and had gotten progressively worse in the last few years. He carried what looked like a metal case containing a photographer's kit as he entered the lower level directly from a set of outside stairs. No reason to go through the shop tonight since he only planned on some practice and maybe some sparring if Jesus was around. He buzzed and Jan let him in as soon as she saw his face in the security camera.

As he entered he immediately heard the thunk, thunk, thunk of someone else practicing. Next he heard Jesus yell, "Dave, my man! It's not Tuesday! What are you doing here?" He laughed.

Dave wondered if maybe he was just a little too predictable. "Hey Jesus, you mind if I take out some of my frustrations on you tonight?"

"Give it your best shot, but I got laid off yesterday so I think it'll be me getting rid of some frustration." Dave looked around and smiled. God he loved this place. He remembered how it all started.

He had never been afraid of knives, even if he was careless and cut himself, he never blamed the knife. When he was twelve his uncle gave him a Barlow buck knife for his belt. At first he practiced opening it one handed. Later he started to practice throwing it at a tree in the little stand of maples in the park where older kids drank at night. It was a terrible knife for throwing, but he practiced everyday to overcome it's balance problems and eventually was able to reliably bury it into a tree at 10 paces. Knives became his hobby and he used whatever money he was able to accumulate to grow his collection. While his parents worried a bit a first, they eventually realized it was about the collecting and not about getting into trouble. From other collectors that he bought and traded with, he heard about the EWA store in the city. He knew collectors came from other cities just to buy there, but he wasn't able to go since they wouldn't even let you in the door if you weren't eighteen.

The day after his eighteenth birthday, Dave took the train into the city. He followed the directions he had gotten over the phone to make a connection with a subway train to the Frankford section of the city. He got off at the Girard stop and made his way a few blocks east to a rather nondescript building that simply had the letters EWA over the door. He buzzed for admittance and over an intercom he heard a woman say, "Please hold your ID up to the camera over the door." He did as he was told and heard the door click open. He walked up a short flight of steps into the showroom and was transported.

Display cabinets were full of every kind of knife, and throwing star imaginable. The walls were covered with swords, battle axes, bows and other edged weapons he'd never even heard of. He had no idea how long he just stopped and stared. Eventually, a middle-aged, tall, gray haired man came over and said, "I take it this is your first time here. Welcome to the Edged Weapons of America, my name's Grey Dupont, and the shop is my baby so I love to see someone new come in and appreciate it. Can I help you find something?" Dave answered, "I came to look for some throwing knives, but do you mind if I just explore for a bit." "Not at all. In fact it's pretty quiet right now, I'll take you on the grand tour.

Dave didn't want a tour, but he didn't want to offend the owner either so he quickly agreed. He was glad he did as Dupont talked about the various weapons on display including their history and merits of each, teaching Dave more than he had learned on his own in years of self-study. In turn, Dave impressed the owner with his seriousness and his knowledgeable questions.

"What type of throwing knives are you looking for?"

"Well I've read some good things about some Gil Hibben custom knives but I've never thrown one."

"You can try them out in the club before you buy if you'd like."


"Yes EWA has a club downstairs where members can practice their hobbies."

"Don't I have to be a member.?"

"Today, you're a guest of the owner. If you decide to buy one of the sets I show you, I'll throw in the first year's membership dues."

The club, turned out to be vast. Grey said, "I own the whole building, which takes up most of this block, so I turned the whole underground area into storage and the club." One section was lockers, there was an enclosed room marked showers, and one corner sported a counter with a locked cabinet underneath, but the vast majority of the area was open with sections divided simply by painted lines on the floor. The thick cork and wood walls were lined with paper targets of both the bullseye and the silhouette type. Finally one corner was a 100 square foot sandbox with a sign that simply said fighting pit. There was only one older gentleman practicing throwing an ax. He looked up and say, "Hi Grey," and continued practicing. Gray replied, "Good to see you back Gene."

"Gene's one of our founding members but he's been in the hospital for awhile. Most of the activity here is at night and on the weekends due to work schedules. Speaking of which, shouldn't you be in school?"

" Actually, I was home-schooled by a tutor and finished all my requirements for a diploma about a year ago. My folks didn't want me going away to college before I was eighteen. Right now I'm just taking some courses at the community college."

Grey started him off with a set of Gil Hibben knives at a line marked 10ft from a bullseye target. Dave put all three knives dead center within a minute. He was pretty proud of himself and thrilled with the knives until he saw Grey shaking his head. "What's wrong?"

"Well you have some natural talent for sure given that you put them all in the black doing everything wrong."

"Why's it wrong if it works?" Dave answered sharply.

In answer Grey stepped to the twenty foot line and duplicated Dave's performance. "Now you try."

Dave had never had much luck from that distance before, but he'd never used knives this nice before. He tried, but only hit the target with the handles of the knives twice and third hit the target and bounced instead of sticking.

"If you don't learn the fundamentals, you'll never improve beyond where you are right now. If you want, I'll be happy to teach you."

Three hours later, he walked to the subway. His wrist, elbow and shoulder all ached. He was $200 poorer, holding a bag with three custom made throwing knives crafted by Grey Dupont himself, and carrying an EWA membership card in his wallet.

Dave and Jesus walked to the locker room. Both put on lightly padded shirts and pants as well a cup. They weren't planning on knife fencing with wooden knives. Instead, they would use their preferred sheath knives and rely on the padding and their skill to avoid seriously wounding their opponent. This particular activity required a lot of trust and neither Dave nor Jesus would use real weapons in the fighting pit with many other people.

The fight that followed lasted three minutes and ended when Jesus felt Dave's knife at his throat The fight itself was a mixture of styles from the Phillipines, Brazil, China, as well good old North American street and prison techniques. The only rules were no throwing and no deliberate wounds. Even, with this both had arms that were bleeding,

Jan, Grey's daughter and now the owner of the club watched the fight, gasping occasionally, but never looking away. She remembered all the times before watching Dave fight, but most especially the first time she ever saw him.

"Dave, come back to the storeroom, I'll get you cleaned up." Jesus asked, "Hey, what about me?" "In your dreams Jesus. Besides, Angie would kill me if I touched you." Jesus laughed, "Well, that's true."

The storeroom was behind the small counter, and contained boxes of merchandise for the store. It also had a massage table set up next to a very well equipped First Aid station. Jan pushed Dave toward the table and started collecting bandages, antibiotic ointment and antiseptic rinse.

She stood close as she started to clean his cuts. Close enough that he could smell her. Not for the first time, he was trying to think of things to depress his incipient erection which always arose around Jan. Luckily she hit on just the subject to do it when she asked, "So what were you all hot and bothered about when you came in? You looked like you were boiling. I can't belief Jesus was willing to even get in the pit with you."

"Got dumped again. Called me Mr. Vanilla."

"You? What's she want a matador?"

"Uhm, she doesn't know about this. When I told my first serious girlfriend, Joanne, about it a few years ago, she pretty much freaked. Thought it was barbaric. We didn't last long after that. Since then, I've been pretty reticent about sharing this part of my life."

"How you explain all the scars?

"Car accident."

Jan teased, "So when are you going to realize that none of these other girls are right for you and sweep me off my feet?"

"Jan, you know you're too much woman for me! I know my limitations."

"Dave she's a fool, but you should try being honest from the start with a woman. Don't try to compartmentalize so much. You're like an iceberg where most of you is hidden from the people you know."

"Not you though. You know it all. How do you resist me," he teased back.

"In case you've been too dense to notice, I haven't been resisting," she said lightly.

The two had a long history together. In the beginning Jan's pursuit of him had been serious, but as a high school student while Dave was a senior in college the age difference was too great for Dave to consider dating her. In the years since he wondered if he had made mistake as she had matured into an incredibly sexy woman. Her dark eyes, thick auburn hair, and beautiful olive skin along with a fabulous body had kept him awake more than once. Of course now that he realized she was a lesbian, he knew they wouldn't have worked out.

Jan said more seriously, "Dave, I'm not a high school girl any more. Why haven't you ever given us a chance?"

Taken by surprise, he responded, "Jan, I've known for quite awhile your interests lie with girls. I happened to see you and Alice saying goodnight. Besides, even before I knew, I was afraid of what would happen when you dumped me. I'd lose a girlfriend, my best friend, and a refuge. "

Jan smiled, "Alice and I are friends with benefits. We keep each other happy while we're waiting for our Mr Rights."

Not really believing her, Dave stated, "I'm flattered by your interest, but we both know that a big part of that is gratitude and I don't think that's a good thing to base a relationship on. "

Jan was silent while she finished caring for the cuts on his arms. She left most of them unbandaged knowing they would heal more quickly and none were still bleeding seriously. Before she walked away, she said "For a smart guy you can be pretty stupid. I never thought you would be the type of person ruled by your fears."

Dave spent the next hour throwing with all his various edged weapons and talking to Jesus. Trying to act like nothing had gone on between them, Dave packed up his kit and asked Jan, " Will you lock this up for me and then ask Mac to sharpen them the next time he's in." "Sure." She replied without either the warmth or the anger she had earlier displayed. She walked over to the counter and unlocked the cabinet there to put away his knives.

Before they were both leaving, Dave stopped Jesus.

"Jesus would you being willing to go to some computer training if it meant a job?"

"Shit, I'd do it, but I can't afford it. Angie's pregnant so I gotta get something quick."

"Look, you're a smart guy. My company will hire you, pay for your training and all you have to do is promise to work there for five years."

"Don't tease me about this man. I'm really screwed losing my driving job right now. It couldn't be a worse time."

Dave dug into his wallet and handed Jesus a business card. Very few people who knew Dave socially realized that he had his own manufacturing business. Now Jesus was among the few.

Jesus suddenly looked embarrassed. He had never suspected his younger friend was rich. He was hesitant to trade on that friendship, but he was also desperate. "Dave, I really appreciate this. I don't want to sound ungrateful, but how much? I'm going to have to be able to take care of Angie and the little one.

Dave replied, "35K. Twenty percent increase when you successfully complete training. We'll call the first year an apprenticeship. After that we'll bring it up to a professional CAD specialist salary. I'm not sure what that is, but probably around 65K. Full healthcare for you. You pay 20 percent of the coverage for your family. There's some other benefits you can hear about it when you come in next Monday. Come to the address on the card and ask for Julie Waltham. She's head of the staff."

Jesus smiled, "I'm in. I guess teaching you how to knife fight was a smart move after all even though you killed my ass tonight."

Dave wished Jesus and Jan a goodnight and walked out feeling happy that at least something good had come of tonight.

Worrying about what Jan had said to him as he walked to his car, he remembered a muffled yell he had heard standing in almost the same spot years ago. He'd never forget that night. The nightmares were much less frequent, but a couple times of year he woke up with his heart pounding from vivid dreams where he was bathed in blood. He didn't like to think too much about the dreams.

While he was driving home Dave realized how hungry he was. He hadn't finished his dinner at Denny's and he'd been going at it pretty hard at the club for almost 2 hours. He thought about where he could get a sandwich this late. He decided on Mitch's Deli which was only a few blocks from his house. Mitch stayed open late mainly for the business from selling six packs. He did however, keep serving sandwiches for the takeout and counter crowd on weekends.

The Deli was somewhat dimly lit since Mitch didn't want to waste electricity when most of the business was take out. There were about 4 Formica tables and a diner style counter. As he sat at counter near the register, Dave saw a girl on the last stool trying not to be noticed. Since she was the only other customer, it was hard to miss her. She was probably eighteen or nineteen and looked like the whole world had caved in on her. Her face was swollen and red, obviously from crying. She had only a soda in front of her. From the lack of ice, he assumed she'd been nursing it quite a while. The heavy set older woman behind the counter asked, "Hey Dave, I never see you anymore. What'll you have?" "Hi Meg. I missed you too. I'm starved tonight. I'll have a turkey club and a cheeseburger with fries. Get me an ice tea and a coke as well." She looked at him funny but gave the order to her husband, Mitch, in the kitchen.

She brought out both orders and as usual, Mitch hadn't skimped on the food. "Oh God, there's no way I can eat all this. My eyes were bigger than my stomach." He looked down the counter and asked the girl at the end "Can you help me out and eat one of these. I don't want it to go to waste. I'll even buy you a slice of Meg's famous apple pie if you take one off my hands." The girl looked like she wondered if he was crazy. Still, she hadn't eaten anything since a donut at breakfast so she was hungry.

"Which one don't you want, Mister?"

"That's the trouble I wanted them both but can't eat both. Would you rather have the burger or the sandwich? I'll let you take the coke since I prefer iced tea anyway."

"I'll take the burger if that's okay?", she asked wondering if this was a joke on her.

He slid the burger and coke down the counter and watched it disappear as he performed similar legerdemain with his own food. Dave wondered about her. He knew she was hungry from the way she had been staring at the menu above the counter, but she looked too clean and too young to be homeless. He also didn't like the idea much of her wandering around at this time of night. The neighborhood was decent, but it was still the city. "Dave we're going to be closing up when you and the young lady have finished, which it looks like you both have," Meg said pointedly.

"Sure Meg." To the girl he said, "Can I offer you a lift home?" Her eyes started to fill, and she said quickly, "No thanks." Then she slipped quickly out of the restaurant. At least she was smart enough not to accept a ride from a stranger Dave thought. He should have offered her taxi fare he realized in hindsight. Dave paid his check, left Meg a nice tip and followed her out.

"AGGH! HEL", Dave heard as he opened his car door. He tried to localize the sound, feeling an odd sense of deja vu. He flipped open his cell and dialed 9-1-1. He interrupted the dispatcher's spiel and said, "Someone is being attacked in the playground on 36th and Powelton. I'll leave my phone on. He started to run towards the playground as he stuffed the phone in his windbreaker.

Time seemed to slow down. The night was crisp for early May in Philadelphia. The darkness in the playground dissipated a bit as his eyes adjusted to the lower light level mostly coming from the one unbroken light near the basketball court. The sounds were coming from near the playground equipment for the smaller children. Though close to his house, he'd never been in this park before. After calling the police, he didn't think, he just moved hoping he wasn't too late. As he passed the swings he heard sounds of a struggle coming from behind one of those complicated jungle gyms with a bridge and little play spaces underneath.

He could see a cheap knock-off bowie knife at the throat of the girl from the deli. Her shirt was torn exposing her bra. The kid holding the weapon was probably not even eighteen. He had all dark clothes on and with his dark face he was difficult to see in the darkness.

"Let the girl go. Right now this can all go away, but if you don't walk away you are going to end up dead or in jail."

"Fuckwad, I'm the one with the knife. You get the fuck lost and I won't kill you right now."

Dave liked that he was talking. "Dopey, I doubt you could hold onto that knife 5 seconds with me one on one. I think you're all show. That's why you go after girls. Probably, can't even get it up with a real woman."

With that, the rapist threw the girl beneath the jungle gym bridge and came at him in a rush. Dave let him come, dropping to the ground at the last second and sticking his foot into the path of attacker, who fell awkwardly. Dave was on him instantly, kneeling on his wrist and grabbing the knife. Just as his fingers tightened on the hilt, he heard. "You're dead now motherfucker!" The enormously loud click of a revolver cocking followed.

Oh shit, there are two of them he thought. Hesitating only a second, he dropped flat on the ground, rolled and flipped the knife sidearm into the chest of the very surprised gunman standing 5 feet behind him. The gun fired.

"POLICE! No one move." Dave froze knowing that the cops could be just as dangerous to him until they knew what was going on.

"Hands on top of the head, face in the dirt." Dave followed directions groaning as the pain in his side made itself known. The guy he tripped tried to get up and was put forcefully back on the ground.

"Officer, there's"

"Did I say you can talk. Shut the fuck up asshole."

Dave tried again, "There's a rape victim over there, I think she needs medical attention."

The officer finished handcuffing both men. The guy with the knife in his chest wasn't going anywhere. The knife had clearly severed an artery because he was lying unmoving in a sea of blood.

Once both men were secured the officer stepped back and said into her radio. "This is UNIT 19, I need backup and and two ambulances. We'll also need the coroner and detectives for a homicide and possible rape." Before she had even finished, Dave saw the flashing lights of another cop car pool onto the playground.

"Hey Judy, what've we got. Looks like you've been busy."

"Stan, I don't know what's going on yet. When I got here, I saw this guy, " pointing at Dave, "toss a knife into the guy on the ground. Then that guy shoots at this knife thrower. The other guy was on the ground already, but he doesn't listen too well so I had to help him stay there. Mister circus act over here tells me there's a rape victim under there somewhere, but I haven't been able to check yet. If you watch these guys, I'll do that now."

Officer Judy McClean picked up the heavy flashlight she had left on the ground as she secured the prisoners. She shined the beam around until she saw the girl under the bridge curled into a ball. Her whole manner softened as she slowly approached her. She said, "It's all over now Honey. The police are here You're alive and you're going to be okay. Can you move? " The girl just nodded and started to get up. She moved tentatively, clearly hurting.

"What's your name?"

"Claire Morrow"

"I'm Judy. The ambulance will be here soon Claire, can you tell me what happened?"

"He saved me."

"Who saved you?" Judy asked already suspecting she knew the answer.

"The guy from the Deli who fed me." Judy didn't know what to make of that.

"Claire, can you point him out? " Claire looked over at where the men were still laying on the ground.

"Oh my God, why is he handcuffed. He saved me!" With that she ran over to Dave, heedless of her ruined shirt.

"Let him up. Don't arrest him."

Three other cops were now standing with Stan. He looked at Judy. She nodded. "Uncuff him."

However, when Stan uncuffed him, Dave made no move to get up. Stan spoke to him without a response. He checked his pulse which was fast and weak. He rolled him over and noticed the blood on the side of his shirt. He quickly ripped open the shirt and checked the wound.

"Judy, it looks like he got shot. I don't think it's too bad but hopefully the buses will get here soon." Judy was wondering about a guy whose first words were about the girl, not about being shot, not about being innocent. A guy who jumped into the middle of something damned dangerous and still came out on top.

She asked Claire, who was sobbing again. "Can you tell me who he is?"

"I don't know." She explained about the food at the Deli, and then about getting grabbed as she cut through the playground. "I was fighting with one guy and I heard another say, ' Get the bitch under control. I want my turn sometime tonight." Right after that I felt the knife at my throat. I stopped struggling and was about to give up, when the guy from the Deli gets in this guys face and starts insulting him. It was like he was insane. He wanted the guy to come after him and he did. He threw me into one of the supports over there and I think I passed out for a little while. The next thing I knew I heard a shot. I thought I was going to be next."

Dave woke up in the emergency room. "How bad is it? He asked the nurse who was cleaning his side."

She smiled, "You'll live. You got shot but it was in an out bouncing off your ribs without hitting anything vital. Luckily, it was a small caliber round." You bled quite a bit, broke a couple of ribs and between that and the pain you passed out. You were lucky you didn't go into shock. We've got the bleeding under control and you shouldn't be feeling much pain with the vicodin you're on. Not a lot we can do for the ribs. You'll probably spend the night just to make sure you're okay."

"How's the girl?"

"What girl?" the nurse asked not knowing anything that had happened yet.

"The girl in the park. The one they were trying to rape," Dave said impatiently.

The nurse now wanted to know a lot more about this. "I'll try to find out". She finished bandaging the wound and left to find one of the paramedics who brought him in. Instead, she ran into Judy McClean, who she had become friends with first through the ER and then at a Yoga class. Judy was staying with the prisoner while he got checked out. He was complaining about his balls being swollen which was quite possible since that's where Judy had kicked him after he tried to get up when she had told him to stay on the ground.

"Hi Sandy."

"Do you know what's going on with the guy who got shot?" Nurse Sandy Baichi asked her friend not bothering with preliminaries. Judy quickly filled her friend in on what she knew of the events in the playground.

"What happened to the girl?"

"Exam 3. They're checking her for a concussion. There's also some vaginal bleeding. Her story is he got there before she was raped so we don't know what's going on. It might just be menstrual"

Sandy went back to let Dave know that the girl was basically okay. "My turn for a question," Sandy stated. "What happened to your arms? I know it wasn't from whatever happened since they were already treated." The man lying on his back thought about how to answer. He couldn't think of a convincing lie and the truth was that the kind of fighting he and Jesus had done was illegal. "I was working on my hobby, which sometimes involves getting hurt, but not seriously. I really can't tell you any more than that because of privacy issues." Not entirely satisfied, but unwilling to press, Sandy said, "Well whoever cleaned you up and wrapped the cuts did a good job. " "Thanks, I'll be sure to tell her." Given his scars and the new cuts as well as what she had heard tonight, she suspected this guy was a real knife fighter. She had heard stories about this from other nurses but had never met one before. She didn't want to admit it to herself, but the danger she saw in him got her hot.

The next morning, Dave was dressed and sitting in his room waiting for the traditional wheel chair an attendant would use to roll him out of the hospital when a tall mustachioed police officer stuck his head in the room."Mr. McGowan, since the docs have signed off on you, would you mind accompanying me to have the detectives take your statement."

"Sure, would it be possible to stop in the room of the girl who was hurt. I'll like to check in on her."

"No problem. Let me check to find out her room."

"How are you doin, g? I'm Dave McGowan. We never did really get introduced," he smiled.

Claire looked up at the man speaking to her. She recognized him, but it was really her first good look at him. He was tall, about 6 ft, thin build but not emaciated, had a neatly trimmed full beard that hid most of his face. His most distinctive feature was his pale grey eyes that made her shiver. She guessed he was about thirty. "Yeah, I'm Claire Morrow. I'm okay. They say they'll probably release me this afternoon or tomorrow." Then the tears started to flow down her face. She tried to turn away but it was too late.

"You looked like you had a rough day before this all happened. I can listen if you want to talk about it."

"No. I'm not dumping on you." She hesitated and then continued, "It's just not the way I pictured spending my 18th birthday. I find out I'm homeless and almost get raped. Fuck, I'm pathetic. I'm sorry you don't need to hear this. Please just go." She punctuated this by rolling over and hiding her face in her pillow.

Dave was shocked and didn't know what to say or do. Finally, he just left, vowing to himself to not let it end here.

Dave was sitting opposite Sargent Steve Sikes, a short, dark haired intense looking man about 10 years older than himself. The open area where they sat was full of desks, detectives and a barely controlled chaos. Except for the computers instead of typewriters, the scene reminded him of an old Barney Miller episode.


"David Michael McGowan"




"3431 Powelton, Philadelphia, PA 19105."


"Consultant and Business owner."

Sikes' eyes rose slightly. "Name and description of business?"

"PMT Group., it's a small manufacturing business. We make a component for home electronics as well as license some patents for defense applications. It also includes my consulting services. Basically, that involves traveling to locations usually for the defense department to help solve problems."

"So you're a high priced troubleshooter?"

"Basically," McGowan admitted.

With the biographical information out of the way, Sikes began, "Please just describe the events of the evening beginning with when you arrived in the neighborhood."

Dave explained what happened in the Deli. He recounted hearing the cut off cry as he got to his car, calling 911 and then hurrying toward the sound." Sikes interrupted, "Why did you do that? Why not leave it for us to handle?"

"Do I need a lawyer?"

Sikes answered, "Look you're entitled if you want, but I'm just trying to figure out what went on here. From what I've heard so far you're not likely to be charged with anything. I haven't read you your rights and with the painkillers you're on, nothing you say right now will probably be admissible anyway."

"Well, I was worried that someone might need help immediately and I was there and the cops weren't yet. I saw the girl. I saw the Bowie knife and I only saw the one guy holding her. I wanted to get his attention away from her and on me, so I started insulting him. I don't really remember what I said or he said. It's probably on the 911 tape since I left my phone on in my pocket when I called."

" Why did you think it was a good idea to get him to attack you? After all, he had a big ass knife and you had nothing. Is that correct?

"Well, knives are kind of my hobby. I figured I'd have a much better chance than she would." He described the fight as he remembered it, and then said, "I thought everything was good until I heard the other guy and that gun cocking had to have been the loudest sound I ever heard. To be honest I figured I was dead. When I threw the knife I was just hoping to take him with me. Truthfully, it was a lousy throw, but he moved his head and body a bit probably to see what I was doing and basically moved right into it. When I realized I wasn't dead, I didn't care about the wound, I felt like crying. Then I heard the female officer, I'm sorry I don't know her name. She scared the crap out of me, which I guess was the idea."

"Ever see either man before?"

"No. Who were they?"

The guy you took the knife from is Ray Rodney, a loser with lots of priors for burglary, robbery, and illegal possession of a weapon. Never popped him for sexual assault but that doesn't mean it was new to him. The other one was Newt aka Neuter Powers. He's was in for sexual assault once before. He also had a slew of other arrests. Just a slightly older version of Ray really. One white, one black proving that scumbag is an equal opportunity profession. They called him Neuter because he cut some guy's dick off when he was in prison. Rumor has it was revenge for biting him, if you get my drift."

"Still wish I hadn't killed him," saying what he thought was expected of him.

"What do you mean knives are your hobby?" Sikes asked getting back to a topic Dave didn't want to talk about.

"I collect knives. I also throw them. I belong to a club where I practice."

"Do you also practice knife fighting?"

Dave hesitated ... He figured the cop already knew just from knowing to ask the question. "I don't think I want to answer that without my lawyer in the room."

"EWA?" Sikes more stated then asked.

Dave just nodded.

I don't think it's really relevant anyway since you threw a knife that wasn't even your own. The ADA already told me there's no way we're prosecuting unless you were somehow involved with any of the other parties prior to tonight.

Sikes looked at him after this and wondered at this guy's motivation. "Have fantasies about being the hero?"

Dave looked pissed, "Look are we done here? I tried to help someone. That's it. I'm sorry if that blows your all people are pricks philosophy, but you'll just have to live with it."

"I guess you were looking forward to being in the paper, maybe getting interviewed for TV?"

Dave, who had never considered this was appalled. "Shit, you don't think this will be in the news do you. Can you keep my name out?"

Sikes was surprised. He knew a genuine reaction when he heard it. "What's the problem? Reporters were all over the scene. It's definitely news and so are you. You'll be the big hero or a psycho danger freak depending on how they decide to play it. I don't think we can keep your name out."

Dave tried to explain, "It's weird. I made some money when I was just out of college and started a business. I was afraid it would change me so I've tried to keep my business side and my private life totally separate. Most people know me either through business or personally. Shit, this is really going to suck." He didn't mention that neither the business nor most of the personal acquaintances knew about the knife collection and fighting.

Sikes dropped him off at the CVS a few blocks from his housesince he had forgotten to get his prescription filled at the hospital pharmacy. He waited the 15 minutes it took to get his antibiotics and pain pills. Not up to a walk, he took a cab home. Within 10 minutes the phone started ringing. He let the machine handle it-- a reporter wanting an interview. He turned off the ringers and silenced his cell phone. He slowly got out of his clothes and lowered his battered body onto his bed, exhausted by the interview and not having slept much at the hospital. Before falling asleep, he looked at his bedside clock 11:30. The last 12 hours felt like a week.

Two hours later, his ribs were on fire. He awkwardly got out of bed trying unsuccessfully not to further irritate them. He thought about getting some vicodin, but in the end opted for three ipuprofen from his medicine cabinet. He didn't like the out of control woozy feeling he got from stronger pain killers. He knew he couldn't take a shower so he tried to at least wash up with a washcloth. He wasn't pleased with the result but couldn't do any better. He thought about shaving and trimming his beard but decided to skip it as not worth the effort. He retrieved the morning paper, bending carefully at the knees and trying not to move his torso.

His eyes were immediately drawn to the headline beneath the fold of the Inquirer. Rape Attempt Foiled by Good Samaritan. The story was short and light on facts but it had his name in there. Claire's was withheld as the victim.

He listened to the messages left on his home phone and cell. It was roughly evenly split between friends and acquaintances wanting to know if it was him and what happened and reporters wanting an interview. He decided to ignore them all for now.

After eating a bowl of cereal for his lunch, he thought of his car, still parked outside of Mitch's and wondered if it had been ticketed. It was a short walk, but he decided he wasn't up for it and called a cab. As he got in the cab, he changed his mind about his destination and said "U of P hospital please." He arrived back at Claire's room with an idea of what he wanted, but unsure of how to say it.

He knocked quietly and walked into her room. "Hi Claire, it's Dave -- Dave McGowan." She had been lying on her side facing the window. She turned over and said, "Hi. I'm sorry about last night, almost getting you killed and then this morning dumping my shit on you."

Dave interrupted, "Nothing to be sorry for. First, it was my choice to go into the park. Second, you have every right to cry. There's nothing to be sorry for. Actually, I don't know how to say this without it coming out bad. I have a house that's too big for me. I've been fixing it up ever since I moved in five years ago and it's pretty livable. I have a deal for you. You come stay with me – you have your own room and bathroom," he added quickly.

"Dave that's generous, but I can't except. You've already done so much for me."

"Wait, you didn't let me finish. There's another part of this. I find that I'm not too mobile. I need someone to help me around the house, drive my car until my ribs are a little less raw."

She looked confused, "What's wrong with your ribs?"

"The second guy just grazed my ribs when he fired the gun."

"Oh my God, I can't believe you were listening to me bitch when you got shot for me. Are you going to be okay?"

"It's fine. They barely stitched the wound up. There's just a light bandages over the openings. Which brings me back to my point. I discovered this morning I can't change the bandage myself. I really do need some help."

"Why does this feel like you're eyes were bigger than your stomach and you just happened to order two meals when I was starving."

She paused thinking of her alternatives, "What the hell? I'm too desperate to be proud. I accept lodging in return for whatever you need until your wound is healed."

Dave had to make an appointment with a surgeon to get his wound checked and eventually get the 20 stitches they had put into him removed. Claire had to wait for her doctor to formally release her. They agreed to meet in the hospital's lobby.

As they got into the cab, Dave asked, "Do you have any restrictions from the Doctor? Things you can't do or eat?"

"Not really, they just said to take it easy for a few days. They said I don't have a concussion."

"Why did they they keep you overnight and all day?"

Claire didn't answer immediately. She finally decided she owed him the complete truth. It would also make living with him a lot easier if she didn't have this hidden.

"Look, I'm sure you've wondered about me but were too polite to ask. I think you deserve to know how I ended up in that Deli. It's going to be hard for me to talk about so I'd rather do it all at once at your house with no interruptions. You can ask questions when I'm done, but I just need to get through it first without being interrupted."

"That's fine." They rode the rest of the way in the cab in silence.

"Geez, it's huge. You're the only one who lives here?" Dave looked at his restored Queen Ann style home and smiled with a mixture of pride and embarrassment, "Five years ago, when I moved in, it was falling apart. I've been working on it ever since." The outside, is mostly done, but I have a number of rooms inside that I haven't done much to yet."

When they walked in, he told her to sit down you and offered her something to drink.

"Hey, I'm supposed to be taking care of you."

"But, you just got out of the hospital."

"So did you, and you're wounded and I'm mostly fine." She didn't look fine. She was pale and sweating. She looked like she might fall over any minute. He was worried and said, "You don't start your official duties until I say. Right now, I think we both need to get some rest. He showed her one of the guest rooms and the linen closet. "You'll need to help yourself. Leaning, bending, reaching aren't in my repertoire for awhile." She didn't say they weren't too great for her either, knowing she would manage.

"I'm kind of wiped. I slept earlier but not too great. I'm going to rest and I think you should as well. If you get up, order some pizza delivered and maybe some sides. Menus are on the fridge." He pulled out 2 twenties from his wallet and handed them to her. "I'm going to set my alarm for seven. I don't want to sleep later than that or I'm afraid I won't sleep tonight. If you aren't up do you want me to wake you?"

"Yes, please."

He wanted to collapse onto the bed, but instead lowered himself as gingerly as he could not bothering to do more than kick off his shoes.

Claire actually did lay down for a few minutes, but couldn't relax enough to sleep. She was worried about telling her story, about what she had gotten herself into, and extremely curious about her benefactor. Despite, her legs feeling like lead, and her general discomfort, she explored the house. The bathrooms she saw were beautifully tiled and had tasteful pewter fixtures. Most of the rest of the rooms were empty, many of them in some form of either gutting or rebuilding. On the ground floor she discovered a decent sized kitchen that looked functional but was clearly still a work in progress with a plywood floor and one wall stripped down to the plaster lathe. The appliances looked older than she was.

She read the paper's sparse account of last night's incident and it sounded like it happened to someone else. She wondered if they would want to talk to her and was glad her name wasn't in the paper. It was close to seven so she ordered a half mushroom/ half pepperoni, a plain pizza, and some fried zucchini. She had to pause when they asked where to deliver. She quickly walked over to where she had seen his mail on top of his entertainment cabinet and read off his address.

After the food arrived, she went up to let him know. She saw his door was open and put her head in to let him know about the food. She saw him struggling to put on a shirt over his well muscled but scarred torso. She also saw the bandage around his ribs and felt guilty. Not thinking, she stepped into the room and said to his back, "Let me help." He jumped and then moaned as he strained his ribs, "Oh shit, you scared the crap out of me. I didn't see you there."

"I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to startle you. I just couldn't stand to see you hurting when I knew I could help. Don't you have any button down shirts? I would think they would be easier."

He stared at her for a moment, "I'm an idiot. Thanks, you're already earning your keep. He started to remove the t-shirt from around his neck, but Claire stopped him, pushing his arms down and easing his discomfort. She stepped in closer and lifted the shirt off his neck. She couldn't help the rush to her loins as she undressed the man who had saved her – the good looking sexy man who had saved her. She caught herself and forced her thoughts back to the mundane, not wanting to make a fool of herself and knowing now wasn't the time – if ever.

"Thanks for ordering the food." he said as he chewed on a slice of pep. She waved him off, wondering how to begin.

"I grew up around here. About three blocks over on Springarden and 44th."

Her way of telling him her poor to working class background. He nodded, not wanting to interrupt her.

"I'm a senior at West. I'll graduate in about two weeks. My Mom and I don't really get along. Dad pushes her around and she goes along with it. My father and I have a weird thing going on. He was always real proud of me-straight A student and all around good girl. But he always wanted to run my life. He told me who I couldn't be friends with, told me I couldn't have a boyfriend or a job. Up until about a 4 months ago I let him. Then I started going out with a guy name Doug Parker. My Dad hated him and told me I had to stop seeing him. I said no and it felt great. He looked at me like he couldn't believe it. After that we had lots of battles about clothes, what time I came and went, and most of all about Doug. After a couple of weeks Doug wanted to do it. He pretty much gave me an ultimatum. Doug had already begun to not seem like such a great guy, but I felt like if I didn't keep him, my father would have won. Long and short is I gave in." At this point Claire was struggling not to cry. Dave wanted to comfort her. "You don't have to continue." "I want to," she said in a stronger voice.

He said he would use a condom, but when the time came he didn't have one. Then he said he would pull out. I knew that wasn't safe, but I was afraid I wouldn't go through with it if I backed out then. Stupid me. A month later I knew I was pregnant. I told Doug first. The asshole told me it was my problem and he had 'moved on'.

Then, I gathered my courage and asked my parents if I could talk to them one Friday night. First, I apologized for all the fighting I had been doing. Both of them looked relieved. Then I broke the news to them. My mom started to cry. I expected my father to start yelling. Instead, he just shut down. He stopped speaking to me and walked away. He didn't say another word to me until yesterday morning."

Now, Claire couldn't stop the tears running down her cheeks, but she continued, "He woke me up at 6:00 yesterday morning. He said, "You're eighteen now. I don't have to put up with your whoring any more. Everything in this house I bought belongs to me. I'll let you have the clothes you wear out the door. You have 5 minutes to get the fuck out of my house." My mother was behind him mouthing I'm sorry, too afraid to even say the words. I knew he could be a jerk, but I never expected to be thrown out. I was in shock. I threw on some clothes grabbed my purse and left without saying anything to either of them. I didn't have much money because he never allowed me to get a job, insisting I focus on school. When you saw me in the diner, I'd wandered around most of the day. I spent money for the soda mainly to have a place to sit and try to figure what to do and where to spend the night.

I had finally decided to suck up my humiliation and ask my friend Hillary if I could stay with her. Hillary and I had been very close before I screwed that up when I got involved with Doug. She warned me and we fought about that and were only civil after that. Still she's a good person and I was sure she would hear me out and at least let me stay the night. That's where I was heading when I got grabbed by that guy in the park." She paused, "In the emergency room, they asked me if I was pregnant. When I admitted I was, they spent some time checking me out and finally told me that I had lost the baby, probably due to the stress or possibly when he threw me down." Claire started to sob. "I don't even know why I'm crying. I didn't want to be pregnant. I definitely didn't want that asshole's child and all I can feel is this loss. I had a person growing in me and now I don't. I'm so damned confused. Anyway if you don't want me around after hearing this, I'll understand."

"Claire, I can't tell you how sorry I am about all this. You're welcome here until you get back on your feet and I'll do whatever I can to help you with that. Honestly, I had been thinking of working on trying to get you back with your family, but after hearing your story I can't help but think you are better off not living there."

Claire interjected, "I'm sorry I can't have sex with you right away. The doctor said to wait at least two weeks. I promise I'll try to make it up to you."

Dave looked stunned and hurt, "Is that why you think I asked you here?"

"Well not at first, but I figured after you heard I was easy, you'd expect your share." Claire wasn't even sure why she told him this. A part of her knew he wasn't like this, but somehow she felt like she was protecting herself.

"Let me be clear. I hope that we can become friends although given your opinion of me that seems unlikely right now. I don't want a relationship with you. I don't expect you to trade sex for living here. I expect you to move on once you have a way forward. I would like your help with little things around here. If you know how to drive, I would appreciate you helping me with that until it's a little easier for me. I won't interfere with you finishing high school in any way. That has priority over everything else. Now, I'm feeling tired and I'm going to head back to bed." He wasn't particularly tired after his nap, but he just didn't know what to say to this girl. He knew she was hurting, but he hadn't done anything but be nice to her and couldn't help feeling pissed that she thought he was after sex.

Claire wasn't stupid and she knew she had just made a huge mistake. She wondered if her own desires made her assume he was looking for sex. She already knew she wanted this man's heart, but she doubted she had anything he would want. She knew she should apologize, but she was afraid how she really felt would spill out.

She wrapped up the leftovers and cleaned up the dishes they had used. She was about to sit on the couch when she heard a key in the front door lock and was suddenly frightened.

Jan knew this was her best chance. She wasn't going to take no for answer. She juggled the bags she was carrying from her trip to the supermarket. She wondered if he would like what she bought. Ever since he had given her the key, she had known she would use it for more than it's original purpose. She was worried about him even though her friend in the hospital had told her he'd been released in the morning, but she was also excited for the chance to take care of him. She opened the door and was suddenly faced with a young woman. They stared at each other, both taken by surprise. Jan looked at this cute chestnut haired, blue-eyed, pixie and couldn't figure it out. Claire looked at the tall, dark skinned auburn-haired goddess and suddenly felt stupid. She looked at the key in Jan's hand and put it together. "I'm Claire, I'm sorry I didn't know Dave had a girlfriend. It's not what you think, I'm just staying here while he needs some help," she babbled.

Jan was considering not correcting the girl in front of her, when she saw Dave slowly making his way down the steps. He called down, "Hi Jan, what are you doing here?"

"I was worried about you, you dolt! Why don't you answer your phone?"

"Sorry, I turned it off. It was ringing non-stop when I got home. I appreciate you coming to check on me, but I just have some stitches and nothing too serious. Claire's going to help me out until I get my full range of motion back."

Jan couldn't believe it. She'd been replaced before she even got here. "Well you can send her back to whatever agency you hired her from. I take care of you when you've been wounded," in a tone brooking no argument.

Claire was realizing that the situation wasn't what she expected, said "I'm not from an agency. Taking care of Dave is my way of giving back to him for saving my life last night and then again today when he found I had no place to live."

Jan realized this wasn't going well. Her knight was up to his old tricks of rescuing damsels and making them fall in love with him. She recognized the look in Claire's eyes when she looked at Dave, she saw it in her mirror every day. Finally, she smiled, "I'm afraid I'm going to have pull seniority. He saved my life long before he ever heard of you."

Dave said, "Look this is silly. Claire's staying here until she gets back on her feet. I don't need a lot of help. Jan, you have a business to run. I certainly appreciate the thought, but all this fuss isn't necessary."

Claire noticed the change in Dave's voice as he spoke to Jan and realized that his body language was saying something completely different than his words

Jan ignored Dave and asked, "Claire can you help me with these bags? I brought some groceries for Mr. Independent."

Claire's curiosity was aroused by Jan's mysterious statement. Who was this guy who went around saving women's lives? She grabbed a bag and headed into the kitchen. Dave moved to follow, when Jan said, "Sorry Dave, girls only. Why don't you take it easy on the couch. You don't want to strain yourself." Dave didn't have a fight in him and just acquiesced.

Eventually, Dave heard laughing and relaxed. He realized that Jan felt possessive, but he wasn't sure exactly why. He was just glad they seemed to be settling things. He hoped Jan hadn't said too much about the incident she mentioned. It wasn't a good memory and she had sworn never to talk about it with anyone other than her psychologist, Dave or her father. Now he had added another memory to worry him during sleepless nights.

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