Pistol Packin' Mama | By: Dallas Releford | | Category: Short Story - Mystery Bookmark and Share

Pistol Packin' Mama

PISTOL PACKING MAMA Dallas G. Releford Drenching, soaking, cold rain cascaded down all around me splattering on the pavement as howling, screaming winds rumbled through leafless, lifeless branches in the trees around the shadowy, vacant parking lot. Holding my waterlogged umbrella high over my head, hoping that at least my hair would be spared from the ferocity of the wind and the gut-chilling rain, I hurriedly walked toward my car in the center of the lot. Even though I was the last person out of the Central Insurance Company building, I knew that I was safe because the security guards monitored the cameras that covered the lot. Perhaps that was the reason I felt that I was being watched, I thought as I pushed the button on my remote that disengaged the electronic locks on my new Malibu. Opening the hatch door in the rear of the car, I stowed my purse, briefcase, and umbrella there hoping I’d be able to get into the vehicle before I got too wet. Realizing that my silk dress had slowly worked its way up my legs, I stooped over to pull it down. Silk dresses always did that to me and I rarely wore them except my boss had requested that we dress nice because a valued client was visiting the office and he wanted to impress him. I’d given in and wore my blue and white flowered dress, just because that was what my boss wanted. As I stood up, I heard a noise behind me. Before I could turn around to see who or what it was that had made the noise, something struck me on the back of my head. Gasping for breath, shocked and completely aware that the night, the darkness was closing in on me, I collapsed to the wet pavement as my legs crumbled. I could feel the stinging numbness creeping up toward my stomach where something ice-cold had suddenly made itself known. The last thing I remembered was someone pulling my hair. It hurt like hell. My next realization was that I was floating in water while being pulled forward by my hair. Hundreds of bright, luminous stars appeared in front of me lighting up my world and my body tingled all over. Attempting to open my eyes, I saw blurry, fleeting images of cars passing by me, only they were sitting still. I was being pulled through the water in the parking lot between the parked cars. The creature let go of my hair and I attempted to escape. Rolling over, I tried to stand up without much success. I was too weak. Shoving me back on the hard pavement, he grabbed my feet and I began my painful journey again. Clutching my feet in his enormous, strong hands, he pulled me across the pavement like a sack of potatoes. Unable to do anything else, I screamed as loud as I could with all the strength I could muster. The louder I screamed, the faster he pulled me through the fog, torrential rain and the sloshing, cold water. Even though it was dark, raining hard and an dismal gray fog clung to the ground, I still was able to see a few details about my adversary that I’ll never forget. Tall, broad shouldered and humped over like an ogre, he had little trouble handling someone like me, a woman of less that one hundred and fifteen pounds. Despite the fact that I couldn’t see very well, I ached all over and my head hurt like my skull had cracked, I still had enough fight left in me to put up quite a struggle. Kicking viciously, I managed to free my right leg. Turning around, he kicked at my hip. The impact felt like it had shattered bone and I screamed some more. Before I knew it, he was using my hair for a towrope again. I just wanted to see his face, to get my fingers into his eyes and to make him feel the pain that I was suffering. I wanted to show him what pain really felt like. Without thinking about it too much, I knew very well where we were headed, where he was taking me. Remembering the trees between the parking lot and the street, I knew that once he had me in the shelter of the numerous evergreen trees that it all would be over. He’d rape me and then slit my throat. Oh, God, I didn’t want to go there. I really didn’t. Terrified, panicky and so afraid that I began crying instead of screaming my fool head off my shoulders, I lost my will to struggle about the time he pulled me through those wet, prickly branches and ripped my clothes from my body. As his huge hands fumbled with my bra, I tried to grab his hands and bite his arm hoping to hit a vein. Instead of biting his arm, I managed to get my teeth wrapped around his hand and tore out a small piece of flesh. Gouging at his eyes as his blood splattered on my body, I managed to poke my finger into his left eye. It was his turn to scream. I turned over and managed to get up on my knees before he recovered from his painful experience. After slapping me several times until I could see darkness again, he ripped my bra and panties off and pulled my legs up around his body. His cold, wet flesh touched my trembling flesh and I tried to scream again. As he violently raped me, I knew the only hope that I had was that he wouldn’t kill me. Horrified, I realized with a great amount of anxiety that hope was nothing more than a mustard seed blowing in the wind. As the pain made me shudder, I thrashed out at him trying to do any damage to the monster that I could. Gouging at his eyes again, attempting to pull his hair out of his scalp, I finally did manage to inflict several deep scratches on his chest, stomach and arms. Yelping as my fingernails tore into his neck, shoulders and chest, he slapped at me repeatedly. I wanted to see his face, remember it forever, and at least visualize what it would look like behind iron bars. In the heavy downpour, I could smell his blood and taste my own as it flowed from several cuts on my lips, cheeks, and face. My blood smelled like copper and tasted like salt. I didn’t want to know what his blood tasted like because I was afraid that I might vomit all over myself. As he became more violent, more aggressive, I resisted until he doubled up his fist and punched me in the face. That time I did see stars, thousands of them just before I passed out. When I awakened, obviously a few moments later, I heard a voice off in the distance. Almost out of my mind with fear and pain, I thought that he was yelling at me again. “Hey! What’s going on back there? Who’s in there? You’d better come out right now. The police are on their way.” Dizzy, lightheaded, and somewhat confused, I recognized that voice immediately because I heard it every day. That single, recognizable voice elevated me to the position of the happiest woman in the world. If I got out of this alive, I promised myself, I was going to kiss Joel Newcomb right on his mouth. No wonder I recognized the voice. That voice belonged to the guard at the front desk. He’d probably seen something on the monitor and had come out to investigate. As the mysterious rapist got up and ran away, I heard sirens in the distance and the night closed in on me again. My head felt like an asteroid had collided with it as the darkness gave way to dozens of glowing globes of bright lights. I wavered in and out. I wasn’t sure if I was alive or dead and the only reason I felt that I might be alive was the aching joints, the pain in my head and the piercing sound of ringing in my ears. Thunder boomed. Sirens screamed. Lightning flashed. Voices yelled. Meteors flashed across darkness and disappeared. I was still alive. “She’s badly hurt. We have to get her to the hospital and quickly.” Those voices sounded distorted, far away, and unfamiliar to me. That was the last thing I knew until I awakened in the hospital next day around noon. My head hurt and I had a new experience to add to my little book of horrors. I’d been raped and I knew immediately that I was in denial. I didn’t want to admit it to anyone else, or to myself. Yet, I knew it had happened. As the fact that I had been violently raped sunk in, I began to fear for my life. Who was the monster that had attacked me, violated my rights and harmed me? Would he try again to kill me? Was I a threat to him? As I lay there in my hospital bed, tubes running from my body to beeping machines, those questions gave me a lot to think about. *** After the charge nurse had visited me, I felt a little better knowing that I might be able to go home later that day or the next day depending on what my doctor said. I was hoping that he’d let me go home. I wouldn’t feel any worse at home than I did in the hospital confined to a hospital bed. The RN dropped by about nine o’clock and told me that my sister had called and said that she’d be in to see me a little later. I felt better about that, too. Having family around during stressful times helped to ease the pain, except that my sister could be a nag sometimes. As I was exploring my environment, taking inventory of all the machines, computers and hoses that were connected to my veins, I heard a soft knock on my door. Glancing up, I saw the RN, Mrs. Claiborne standing smiling at me. Her cheerful face reminded me that kindness still existed in the world. “Miss Cramer, do you feel like seeing a visitor?” Thinking that my sister had arrived early, I answered, “Yes, of course, show her in.” “It’s not a she,” Nurse Claiborne said, still smiling. “It’s a man and he said that he is a friend of yours.” “Okay. Show him in, then. Who is it?” “He wants to surprise you,” Nurse Claiborne replied. Walking away, she said, “I’ll show him where you are.” I was surprised and a little wary when Vince Griggs, the janitor at my apartment building walked through the door with a dozen yellow, long-stemmed roses in his hand. Placing the roses on my bed, he said, nervously, “These are for you, Miss Cramer. I thought it might make you feel better. I’m sorry about what happened. The landlady told me what happened.” Shy, backward and timid as a mouse, Vince Griggs spoke to me every time he saw me. Working at the apartment building cleaning and fixing things, he lived in an apartment on the second floor, above where I lived. Three days a week, he worked at Central Life Insurance Company. He was a janitor there, too. Unmarried, he was probably the most sociable person I knew. Except for his shyness, I can’t think of anything that I didn’t like about him except that his eyes never left me. “Vince, you shouldn’t have. Roses are expensive,” I told him. I couldn’t understand why he’d want to bring me roses or even come to the hospital to see about me. We weren’t friends or even acquaintances. The only time I ever saw him was when I was going to work. Sometimes, he’d be standing down at the curb waiting for his bus. Most of the time he’d wave at me and I always waved back at him. Maybe he’s just trying to be kind because we live in the same apartment building, I thought and finally accepted the explanation as the most reasonable, logical justification for what he’d done for me. “Oh, um, I just wanted to do it for you. It’s no big deal, really.” “Well, I still think it’s nice of you even though you didn’t have to do it,” I said. Still staring at me, he asked, “Did you see who did it?” I was kind of shocked by the question at first and then realized that Vince was really just a big kid who’d never really grown up. “No,” I replied honestly, “I didn’t. It was too dark.” “I wish I’d been there,” he said. “I’d squashed him like a big bug.” “I bet you would have, too,” I agreed not knowing much else to say or how to respond to someone like him. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Maybe he felt like he was comforting me in my hour of need, I surmised and let it go at that. As I relaxed a little, I noticed that his left eye was swelled, his eyeball was reddish and he several scratches on his face. The collar of his coat barely covered a long red welt on his neck. His hand was bandaged. “What happened to you, Vince?” “What? Oh, I go hunting sometimes out in the country. It got dark before I could get out of the woods and I ran into a barbwire fence. Those things are dangerous, you know. Before I knew it, I was cut up pretty bad.” I remembered that I had seen him leaving a couple of weeks ago with a rifle or maybe a shotgun under his arm. Someone had picked him up at the curb. I had thought at the time that he was going hunting with a friend. I’d heard him talking to the landlady about hunting one day when I was coming home. “Well, you should be more careful, Vince. You can really put an eye out or cut yourself and bleed to death out there.” “I know,” he said sheepishly. “I’ll be more careful.” “You do that,” I told him. “Well, I guess that I’d better be going. I have a lot of things to do around the apartment this morning. If you remember anything about that man that attacked you, will you let me know, Miss Cramer?” “Why do you want to know, Vince?” “Because I want to hurt him the way he hurt you,” he said as he walked out the door. He was gone before I could respond. Strange, I thought. * * * Sherry Cramer was my sister and she visited me in the hospital that same morning. She was the sister that the RN had told me about. Aghast, she stood looking down at me as if I were a corpse in a casket. I don’t think the impact of the dangerous encounter had awakened her brain cells before she began blurting out all kinds of weird sounds. Excited, she asked me all the typical questions that a sister would ask another sister in that particular situation. Did I hurt? Was I okay? Could I talk? Did I need anything? She’d asked fifty questions before my drugged mind could answer the first one. After three days of medical care and counseling in the hospital, I was released and was allowed to return to my apartment where my sister stayed with me until I felt better. My mother wouldn’t hear of me being alone so she called me about twice a day. My father and mother lived out of town. She was happy that my sister was able to stay with me. While I was at home in my bedroom reading magazines, watching television and listening to my sister complain about her husband, our mother and the weather, I had plenty of time to think about my life. Sometimes, I got a gut feeling that my life was in more danger than I realized. Maybe most of us live under those circumstances and don’t even know it. Working downtown, I had to commute through rough territory frequented by drug dealers, prostitutes, radicals, and maybe even a few terrorists. The place where I worked on Fourth and Main wasn’t much better because drug dealers were often seen there, too. Quitting a good paying job just because I’d been raped was entirely out of the question. My only other option was to learn how to protect myself. Cincinnati could be a cruel place to be, especially with criminals, drug dealers, and other undesirables frequenting the streets. Mean streets; deadly streets was how my mother described them. For the most part, she was right, they were deadly streets with rape, murder, robbery and other serious crimes being committed on them daily. If the police couldn’t control crime and protect me, then who could? How to protect myself became a major concern for nearly a week before I finally decided that I was going to get a permit to carry a gun. I’d get the training that would teach me how to use it. I wasn’t going to be a victim ever again. The thought that the rapist might come back and kill me haunted me night and day. Less than a week later, I was up running around the apartment much to the displeasure of my dominating, caring sister. Knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I just wasn’t ready to be out of bed yet, she demanded that I take it easy. Sherry was definitely a control freak. I think she inherited that from my mother. If she wasn’t in complete control, then she felt disoriented, stumped, and insecure. I guess Sherry thought that I’d just slither under my bed and hide there forever safe from the world of crime, war, and disease. Regretful that I had to disappoint them both, I put on my best dress and walked down to the corner of Hamilton and Galbraith where Ace Detective Agency was located in a two-story brown brick building. I wasn’t interested in hiring an investigator, but I was interested in securing the services of Brower’s Self-Defense Institution. Their specialty was teaching women to protect themselves and that included firearms training. A friend had recommended them. I thought they might be just what I needed. Nervous, shaking like a leaf in a spring breeze, I walked around the corner and into the building. The place I was looking for was located down the hall, in the back of the building. Opening a door with Brower’s Self-Defense Institution written on it, I approached a counter where a beautiful, young, elegant woman was browsing through a stack of folders. The woman reminded me of an advertisement for Revlon because she was gorgeous and looked more like a movie star than she did a receptionist. After telling the young woman what I wanted, I was asked to take a seat and wait. Fifteen minutes elapsed before an older man, tall, muscular with deep blue eyes, and neatly combed gray hair came out of a nearby office behind the counter. Walking around the counter, he extended his hand to me even before he got to where I was sitting. He had a kindness about him that made me want to believe that he could handle just about any problem that I might have. I felt a little more relaxed around him than I did most men. Introducing himself as George Stinson, he informed me that I’d have to go to class for two days to get my permit to carry a weapon and about two months for the self-defense course. Deciding that I could handle that, I signed a stack of papers, paid in advance, and promised that I’d be back on Monday to begin classes. Spending the weekend in my apartment like a recluse reading Stephen King novels, watching old movies on TCM and ordering a couple of pizzas, I was doing something that I said I’d never do, withdrawing from a world that seemed just a little too violent to me. Hoping that carrying a weapon and the self-defense training would bestow a new outlook on life in me, I decided that staying off the streets was the right thing to do until I was confident enough to face the world again. I didn’t want to get raped again and even though my sister begged me to go shopping with her, I still didn’t want to face the world until I was totally prepared to face it on my own terms. Rapists were everywhere, behind every bush, tree and in every dark alley. I was convinced of it. One of those rapists had my name on his list of favorite people to kill. Well, Monday rolled around as it normally does and at precisely eight o’clock in the morning, Sherry was still in bed and I was standing in front of the hall mirror in my bra and panties taking inventory of my slim, trim, creamy white body wondering if I was up to self-defense training. The person I saw in the mirror just didn’t look aggressive, formidable; like someone that could defend herself against a rapist, murderer or any other kind of assailant. With dark hair, deep brown eyes, pallid skin and a slender figure, I looked more like a certain doll than I looked like a wonder woman. Maybe a gun will make a difference, I told myself and then wondered if even that would make me equal to a mugger. Not really wanting to walk to my class, I got into my forest green Malibu and drove down the rain-drenched street trying my best to avoid everyone that wanted to pass me, run into me or eliminate me from the maddening traffic entirely. Upon arrival, the receptionist showed me to the classroom where we’d be taking the firearms training. I only saw three other people in the class and wondered if I’d arrived too early. Striking up a conversation with a woman sitting next to me at a long folding table, I learned that her name was Lori. Lori was an RN and worked at Children’s Hospital. Lori was a rape victim, too. Her motivation for taking the training was the same as mine. Lori wanted more than anything to be able to defend herself the next time she was attacked. Small world, isn’t it? Someone in the class mentioned that rape victims outnumber the police. The instructor finally arrived along with a late arrival, a student by the name of Willard Johnson. I’m not sure that I could ever see giving Willard a gun. As shaky as his hands were, I thought that he might blow off his own foot before hitting anyone else. Maybe he’d decide that he didn’t need a gun. With the thick glasses that he wore and his long dirty hair streaming down into his eyes, I didn’t think he could see an assailant anyway. His face was covered with scratches and a long, red scar on his neck was partially hidden by his long stringy hair. His left eye looked like someone had taken their frustrations out on it. I wondered if he could be the rapist and then decided that he was too young. The rapist had been much older. I was sure of it. Turning my attention and thoughts away from Willard, I looked at the instructor. He told us his name was Jack Waggoner and that he’d be with us for the duration even though we’d be having other instructors. Jack was a man that caught my attention right away, mesmerized me, and enhanced my fantasies more than anything I could have imagined. Over six feet tall with short brown hair, sparkling blue eyes, shoulders wider than those of a construction worker or maybe even a lumberjack, he seemed to walk with an aura of radiant gold around him. The first thing I noticed about him was his beautiful smile that seemed to pull me right into his world. Personality was something that Jack wasn’t lacking either. His pleasant voice tantalized me with its melodic notes. Jacks voice was neither assertive nor weak and when he spoke, I felt as if I was listening to an angel singing. As charming as Jack was, I couldn’t help but wonder why I felt uneasy being so close to him. He stood in front of the small class and talked about what we would learn during the course and what our objective was. My objective was quickly changing from learning to use a weapon to snagging a good husband even though I’d just met him. As I sat listening and watching him, I wondered why all men couldn’t be like Jack. Why couldn’t the man that had attacked me be like him, gentle, nice, and kind to women? I’ll admit that I had qualms about getting involved with another man after what had happened to me only a few days ago. Not looking forward to spending the rest of my life alone, I decided that I’d have to forget about what happened to me and move forward. I knew more than anyone that I’d have to get over it and get on with my life. Procrastination was never one of my stronger points, so I shoved all of those terrible memories as far into the back of my mind as I could and told myself that I was going to learn how to use a weapon. If Jack Waggoner just happened to ask me out on a date, then that was all right, too. Everything moved fast after that first day like a tornado tearing across the plains. Jack never wasted any time in letting me know he was interested in me. Lori and me were the only women in the class and she was married, dedicated to her husband so that left just me to receive all of Jack’s attention, which I didn’t mind at all. After two days, I received my certification to carry a weapon and moved on to the defense training. Jack put us through a pretty-rough time teaching us various defensive techniques and when he put his strong arms around me showing me how to get out of a particular hold, I nearly freaked out. I could feel his breathing, his heart racing and felt his cool, wet skin on mine. Smelling his cologne, feeling the warmth of his smooth skin and enjoying his touch, I couldn’t wait for him to ask me out. The fear I’d felt that night when I was raped was still in me, nestled somewhere among all those brain cells causing my heart to flutter, race and quiver. Somehow, Jack instilled in me a willingness to resist my deepest fears. Fighting the fear, determined that it wasn’t going to control my life, I attempted to enjoy, savor and appreciate each precious moment that I was near him. I can’t say that it was love at first sight because I’m not sure that I was in love. Perhaps the best way to explain my feelings toward him at that time was that I was infatuated with Jack. I said things moved fast and I mean it. A few days later, Jack took me out to a nice dinner at a place in Blue Ash. A week after that, he invited me to his house for a sample of his cooking. Before I knew what had happened, we were in bed. Regardless of the fact that I’d been raped not more than two weeks earlier, I couldn’t resist the temptation. We made love. I made a bad mistake. Sherry first met Jack when I invited him over to my apartment. She never liked any of my boyfriends. I always thought she was just jealous. Taking an interest in Jack, she talked to him so much that I felt left out of the affair. Something was wrong, awry and I knew it. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. After Jack left, I asked her, “Sherry … uh … have you met Jack before?” “Yeah, a long time ago. He used to come down to the restaurant where I worked and we’d talk a little.” “Neither of you mentioned that you knew each other when Jack arrived,” I told her bluntly, the only way I knew how to say it without implying that she was interested in him. “Did you ever date him?” “Of course not, Melanie,” she said, “we just talked and that wasn’t very much. He only came into the restaurant a couple of times while I worked there.” I could see her eyes dancing to the beat of her heart and I knew right away that she was lying. Sherry was like that. She’d dated my boyfriends before, behind my back. She’d pretended not to like them. That was part of her devious ploy to throw me off guard. It simply wasn’t going to happen this time, though. Determined that she wasn’t going to take Jack Waggoner away from me, I fought back. “Well, just don’t get any ideas, Sherry. Jack belongs to me.” “You can have him,” she declared and walked from the kitchen toward the living room with a cup of hot, steaming coffee in her hand. Following her, I asked, “What’s wrong with him?” “Nothing,” she replied. “He belongs to you and that’s it.” “Sherry, if you’re not interested in him, then there’s something wrong with him. What is he, a womanizer or something?” “Sort of,” Sherry admitted under pressure and I knew that she was just telling me that because she really was interested in him. “He goes out with a lot of women, so don’t get too comfortable with him. I don’t want to see you get hurt again, Melanie.” “That was before he met me,” I told her, defiantly. “Once I get through with him, he won’t want or need another woman.” I wasn’t bragging because I already knew that I could handle him. “Your ego is getting the best of you,” Sherry accused, “and you can’t see the forest because of the trees.” “What do you mean?” “Open your eyes, Melanie. Can’t you see anything? I know that love is blind, but if you put love out of your mind and your heart for a little while, you can see what I saw in that man.” “Make sense,” I demanded sternly sitting down on the couch near her. “What do you mean?” “Melanie, you said that when you were attacked that you bit that man’s hand, scratched him in several places and that he was a big man. Is that correct? Isn’t that what you said?” Appalled, my guard up because I thought she was trying to trick me into hating him so she’d have a shot at him, I slammed into her hoping to break down her resistance and find out the truth. “Yeah, I did say those things. What does the rapist have to do with Jack Waggoner?” “He’s the rapist.” “He’s what?” “Jack Waggoner is the person that attacked and raped you. Don’t you feel it? Didn’t you see the bandage on his hand, the scratches on his neck and that cut on his face?” She was right. I had violently scratched my adversary every place that I could. I had been blind and I knew it. Since the day I’d met Jack, I’d felt something eerie about him. I felt slightly uncomfortable around him and had thought it was because of the incident that I’d had. Because of my emotional involvement with him, I just couldn’t believe that Jack could do a thing like that to me. Liking Jack as much as I had, I’d shut out the suspicions and put my faith, my trust, in him. Reasoning that I was skittish because of the rape, wary of men and apprehensive about getting involved with another man, I’d shut the emotions out and accepted Jack for what he was, my lover. I’d plunged right into a relationship with him hoping that he’d comfort me and make the fears subside. That hadn’t happened. In fact, his lovemaking had been fast and violent. I didn’t like that part of it either. Unable to break off the relationship at such an early stage, I’d let it go on hoping that he’d change for the better. As I sat there staring at Sherry, I knew that his aggressiveness wasn’t natural. I’d fallen in love with a monster. Now I had to face it, he was the rapist. I was sure of it. I had been curious about his bulging black eye, and scratches on his body. When I inquired about them, he had a rational explanation for everything. He told me that he worked part time for the Ace Detective Agency and that a drug-soaked prostitute had attacked him. I believed him because I just couldn’t accept that he could be the rapist. Why should he rape me when I would have willingly gone to bed with him? The facts just hadn’t made any sense to me, at the time we’d talked about it. That terrible night, I hadn’t gotten a good look at the rapist and I knew that I couldn’t identify him. Maybe the rapist didn’t know that, I thought. Now that I was forced to face the truth, to think about it and consider that what Sherry had said might be the truth, no matter how horrible it was, I recognized another fact that I hadn’t thought of before. I’d smelled the cologne the rapist was wearing. When Jack had put his hand on my shoulder that day in class, I’d detected the same odor. I had few doubts now that he was the rapist. What could I do about it? I couldn’t identify him in a police line-up and without a valid identification from me, they probably wouldn’t even try to help me. “Maybe you’re right,” I admitted, glumly. I’d made another mistake and now I had to admit it to my sister. “He is about the right size, has the strength that I felt in that man that night and he’s got scratches in the right places.” “What are you going to do? Will the police believe you?” “I don’t know. Maybe the police will believe me.” “It’s worth a try,” Sherry said. “I’ll go down with you and talk to them.” “Fine,” I said glad to have her company. Picking up my purse from the coffee table, I opened it and pulled out my brand new automatic pistol. Ejecting a cartridge into it, I said, “Maybe he’ll attack me again and I can solve this dilemma.” “I doubt that,” Sherry replied. “Why not?” I asked her wondering what she was getting at; why she was so sure he wouldn’t attack me again. “You’re armed and know how to use that gun. He knows that. He’s out to get you in another way. He’s already taken advantage of you once and he won’t quit. I don’t think he intends to marry you. He’s probably dating you trying to find out if you will eventually recognize him. He’ll probably try to kill you before you remember that it was him that raped you.” Together, we walked out the front door anxious to get the business with the police over with. Locking the door behind us, we started down the sidewalk. Only the streetlights held the darkness back. I suddenly realized that it was getting late. Glancing at my watch, I saw that it was almost ten o’clock. Hearing a noise behind us, we both turned around at the same time as two strong hands grabbed Sherry around her shoulders pinning her arms to her sides. Stunned, frightened that we both were going to be raped, or killed, I remembered the defensive training that Jack had taught me and stepped back as the dark figure flung Sherry to the ground. I heard her scream as the shadowy phantom headed toward me. Jerking the automatic from my purse as quickly as I could, I fired several shots at him. He kept coming. I retreated down the sidewalk toward my car parked at the curb. Firing repeatedly, I was sure that some of my bullets had hit him. Coupled with the darkness, the fog and the excitement, I was missing him because I was pulling the trigger instead of squeezing it. At that time, I was thinking about throwing the gun at him. I’d probably have a better chance of hitting him, I thought. Damn, I was going to be raped again. Not if I could help it, I declared to the shadows. He kept coming and I kept retreating wondering why he wasn’t dead by now. Dropping the purse, trying to be as calm as possible, I held the gun in both hands, squeezed off three more shots, and saw the bullets rip through his chest leaving his shirt drenched in blood. As I watched frozen to the sidewalk, unable to move, I saw his legs go limp as he slumped to the ground. He didn’t get up again. I seriously doubted if he ever would get up again. Red stains appeared on his shirt in the center area of his chest. I could almost smell his blood if it weren’t for the odor of the cheap cologne that he wore. That same smell had offended my nostrils the night he’d raped me. I’d hit him in his heart or close to it. My training had paid off once I’d calmed down enough to remember it. Then I remembered something that almost struck me as funny if not totally ironic. Jack had told me that when a person was shot in the heart that they didn’t bleed as much because the heart stopped abruptly preventing blood flow through the veins. As I walked a little closer to the body on the ground, I could see that very little blood was on his chest. Perhaps I had hit him in his heart, if he had one. Rushing to Sherry, I forgot all about the dead man on the ground. Sherry was fine. She’d just had a traumatic experience and needed time to figure out that she wasn’t hurt. Standing on the front lawn, in front of our apartment, we listened to the sirens screaming in the distance and wondered if Jack was dead. I couldn’t believe that I’d killed him. My mind just wouldn’t let me commit myself to that admission. Only the lights from the front entrance to the apartment lighted that part of the lawn and it was difficult to see any specific details about him except that he had red splotches on his white shirt. I thought maybe that he might rise from the ground and come after me again. As sirens wailed and flashing lights came closer, we stood in complete awe. As one of the police officers trained his flashlight on the body on the ground, we found ourselves staring down at the body of Vince Griggs. Shocked, I couldn’t believe that I’d killed the man that had raped me and the man that had given me a dozen red roses. A little relieved that I wouldn’t have to worry about him raping me any more, I wondered how many more monsters like Vince Griggs were out there waiting for me. At that moment, I knew how the gunslingers felt in the Old West except the Old West was never as dangerous and deadly as it was in modern times. They had a code of honor and honor wasn’t involved in the philosophy of modern criminals. They raped women, tortured them, and killed them. I was glad that I was one who had chosen to fight back. While we waited for the police to talk to us, Sherry and me tried to figure out why Griggs had attacked us. As best as we could figure it, he’d thought that I could identify him. His sole purpose in visiting me at the hospital was to find out if I recognized him as my assailant. Alone, his imagination had gone wild and he’d become terrified that I’d eventually recall some fact about him that would bring the police knocking on his door. He’d decided that he would be safer if I were dead. If it hadn’t been for my weapon and my training, Sherry and me would both be dead now. As I look back on it, I’m glad that I became a pistol-packing momma because if I hadn’t, Sherry or me might not be around today. Shortly after that, Sherry became a pistol-packing momma, too. I’m happy for her. Two guns are better than one. Oh, yeah, I never did finish my defensive training. I figure that going armed is enough of a defense for me. It helps me to sleep at night. Shortly after being attacked for a second time, I decided that Jack wasn’t for me and I never went out with him again. Somehow, I figured that if he was so violent when making love that he’d eventually get around to abusing me. Why take that chance. I’d probably have ended up shooting him or worse yet, he might have killed me. That goes to show that you just can’t be careful enough. Who would have figured that poor, harmless Vince Griggs could ever hurt anyone? I know I never would have thought that of him in a thousand years. I never thought that about Jack either, but I never hung around long enough to find out if he was a rapist, too. You just never know what evil flows in a persons veins. THE END
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