Eventually November rolled around, I ran out of antibiotics and I declared my independence and felt well enough to drive. I spent my first day of freedom out on my sister’s farm cracking pecans and smelling the apple wood fire she had built in the kitchen. I thought maybe snow would push on through tonight and I kept planting that idea ever so often because we had been making candy, baking cakes, a couple of pies, and experimenting with recipes in general.
Dinner was excellent and with a sure sniff I announced I was smelling snow. Pulling on my coat, I was out the door, leaving her with a hug and the dirty dishes and about twenty more pounds of pecans to crack. Yes, leave me with a pantry of bland food and I shall take my revenge!
The drive back was uneventful until I was about a mile from home. That is when all the hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up.
I turned off the major highway with its industrial strength streetlights and onto my road of gaslights in the yard and an occasional porch light left on. I live in the Gillette Historic District in Tulsa. These homes were built in the 1920’s and do not come with all the modern-day niceties. My detached garage is behind the house in the far right hand corner of the lot. Parking the car in the driveway, I switched off the engine and waited. The crows called out but there was nothing desperate in their voices. But still…I checked the shadows and then walked with my back to the fence line. I did not sense a presence but I knew something was not right as I moved quietly around the perimeter of my house.
I was now standing out in the street, thinking about whom I should involve in this. Charles had always been most specific when it came to my safety. “Shoot the bastard in the head, then shoot him again to make sure he is neatly and completely dead.”
Fair enough. I could do that but would rather not, tonight. The decision was made. Dialing 911, when asked my emergency, I stated that I did not have one, but that I would like a police officer to escort me into my home. I told the nice lady that I had left my shades up in my living room and now they were down and that I was happy to wait on my neighbors’ porch until a patrol car showed up.
That, of course, was not the entire truth, but it is a little hard to explain that your gut feeling said all was not copacetic.
Officer Dodds went through each closet and checked under every bed. There was one room left. Charles’ study. Pushing open the pocket doors, my eyes went to the gun cabinet. You could see the rifles standing at attention through the glass. It held his shotgun and two rifles and Old Betsy, the 1910 Enfield rifle that had belonged to his great-grandfather in World War I.
“The Enfield is out of kilt,” I said, nodding at the cabinet. “They all sit with eyes to the front.”
I watched as Officer Dobbs approached the case. “The Enfield is off tilt by about one degree. Check the weapons if you would please,” I smiled as my hand ran across the top of Charles’ desk. Neat and pristine and polished. I kept his desk just the way he liked it which was a chore for me because I am not neat and tidy. Maybe this room was a shrine but it was a working shrine. I used the area as an office as well.
As Officer Dodds broke open each rifle, he looked back at me. “Firing pin is missing.
From looking around your husband’s office, he was in the Army.”
“Yes,” I replied.
“You have hand guns?” he asked.
“Yes, in a gun safe.”
“Load one and keep it in your night stand. Chances are good he will be back. We’ll patrol more often in this area. But if he breaks in and you are here, make sure this bastard is dead and then call us. Some of these types wear body armor. Aim for his head. And you might want to think about an alarm system. Or a dog.”
“Will do,” I replied as I walked with him to the door. “I still do not know how he got in.”
“That is not hard to explain. Folks do it all the time without thinking. You give your key to a neighbor to water your plants whose kid shows it to his friend who copies it and gives it to his older brother who sells it and on it goes.
Change your locks,” he stressed.
Nodding in agreement, I was thoughtful. “That makes sense,” I replied. “Odd that they did not take the rifles,” my voice was pensive.
“They obviously don’t want rifles,” he said, his voice brisk. “They like a different type of trophy. Make you drain your accounts before they kill you.”
“Got it,” I replied. “I will alert the neighbors to be on the lookout for strangers.”
Closing and locking the door, I sat for a long time on my living room couch. Lighting my fireplace, I said a prayer and threw in a handful of sawdust that was laced with paraffin. A fire blazed up and when it died down, burned onto the back of the bricks was the word, “Caw.”
Just fine, time to talk with the crows come daylight, because whoever had helped himself to my husband’s weapons was not human and I knew how to make silver bullets.
After sunrise, I went out and tossed out peanuts-in-the-shell and clanked my crow bell and went back inside to warm up and have my own breakfast. Coffee was the elixir of the gods this morning, even if it was de-caf, as I puttered about the kitchen. An hour later I went back out and there on the ground were two silver broken chains and a silver charm featuring the great state of Oklahoma. Spreading out kitty kibble this time, I picked up the silver, thanked the crows for their sage advice and went back inside to get to work.
As I made bullets, I thought about Jon. Somehow, I was sure, this all went back to him. He was out of service, he had said, for several days. One week a month he was the ride-along-doc with the EMT’s. Not that his being gone impacted my life in any way. I was still healing and there was no hot and nasty sex, although he was a most excellent kisser. When he stopped by he was kind, cordial and concerned with my well-being. We talked, laughed and played Scrabble before my eyes rolled up into the back of my head at around nine, sometimes as early as eight. Then came the long, romantic kiss goodnight. He stood at the door until I locked it and when I heard his car drive off, I went to bed.
Now this…someone had thought to touch what was my husband’s! Fucking right I was going to shoot them in the head! And with silver bullets!
Making a list, I considered the different possibilities. Yes, I could start with new locks. Hardware store would be the first stop.
In two nights there would be a full moon. As if a full moon was not enough to let loose the crazies, it was a full moon with an eclipse. All manner of other would be out and about as well. And at midnight, a cold front was pushing through with rain, wind, maybe some snow, and other creepy things to make one stay in and shelter at home.
I went about my business as I made my list for my siege goods for Old Man Winter’s Howl and what other mayhem the full moon would bring to those that consorted with vampires.
Two nights later the magic of the eclipse arrived. Back in the day, it must have been a horrifying thing to watch the round, full goddess disappear…then to have the priest or priestess chant it back into being as they took what they wanted from the crowd for payment. I am glad those days have passed. We of The Gift have always had a tendency to call “that’s fucking bullshit” at such slights-of-hand and often are the first ones tossed into the flames.
But tonight I watched the eclipse from the comfort of my neighbor’s upstairs outside balcony as we sipped hot cider and took photos.
I was home by ten and at midnight the cold front arrived and with it came howling winds, banging limbs against the house, and screeching torrential rains and hail that pushed anything standing down into the ground.
“Good night to have a visitor or two,” I chuckled wickedly to myself. After all, if I were going to break into someone’s home, I would do it on the noisiest night of the year. Wouldn’t we all!
A nice cup of coffee will help to mask the smell of poppy oil, I thought as I placed it on my bedside table. Next, a little atmosphere; I built a nice fire in the fireplace in my bedroom. That would also add another layer of smell and would provide a small amount of light if I had visitors come calling.
Sitting at my vanity, I took out the pistol, clips and silencer. With deft hands I made short work of what I hoped would happen sooner than later. I can be a bit grumpy when I am short on my sleep and it has ticked past the bewitching hour.
Turning back the covers I get into bed and sliding the weapon down my body all I can now do is wait. The house is dark and comfortable and I know every sound it makes, no matter if a tornado came roaring through. It also helps to have Clive the King of the Crows who likes to roost by my fireplace, and his realm, keeping watch over the yard.
Shadows chase each other on the walls and there is a crash of lightning and I hear Clive cawing down the chimney.
Perfect! A floorboard creaks in the hall to my bedroom. My finger is on the trigger. When the coroner comes for the body, it just might make for a long night. Well, I just might get to have hot chocolate before I go to sleep, after all.
Standing in my doorway is the figure of a man. Black and shadowy and then he is advancing toward the bed. I hear the crack of lightning followed by a roll of thunder that shakes the house and despite my better judgment I do not take the kill shot. Instead I aim for the knees and it is with great satisfaction I hear him scream and fall to the floor. Taking off the night vision goggles I turned on my bedside light. I can see him struggling to stand. Well then, a bullet into each shoulder. Shot number three and shot number four.
“Shit! Woman!” he screeched after each impact.
“Who are you?” I asked as I raised the pistol and this bullet was aimed at his head.
“Reginald Burrows,” he hissed at me in his very proper English accent.
“Nice suit,” I smiled. “Not off the rack at Harrods. What the fuck are you doing in my home?”
“I wanted to meet you,” he groaned as he sat back down on the floor.
“Most folks just ring the bell,” I smiled at him.
“Where did you learn to shoot?” he gritted his teeth.
“I was on the rifle team in college. My husband taught me my way around a pistol. The night vision goggles help and oh—I am pissed that my firing pins are missing,” my voice dripped death. “Now, the nice policeman that was by here told me to kill you before I dialed 911. Since you did not take the rifles, he thinks you like human trophies so it would just be for the best if I were to go ahead and put a bullet to good use. Saves on paperwork and saves the state a boatload of money,” I stressed. “That would be my tax dollars,” I pointed to myself “put to better use than housing your sorry ass. Any last words?”
“I work for Dr. Jon,” he gasped out. “Dr. Jon Irving. Damn, this silver is going to kill me. If you would call him he will tell you. And ask him to bring his bag to remove these bullets. Where did you get silver bullets?” he moaned.
“Poured them myself,” I grinned. “Weird happens to me. I just believe in being prepared.”
Picking up my cell and hitting the speaker button, I asked Siri to call Dr. Jon while I kept my pistol trained on the perp on the floor.
When Jon picked up I said, “Sorry to bother you, but I have a man by the name of Reggie…”
“Reginald!” was hissed by the one who was bleeding all over the cheap carpet I had purchased yesterday for just this occasion. Really? He was correcting me? “My name is Reginald.”
“Really?” I spit out. “I think I can call you what ever the fuck I want, Reggie,” I hissed right back.
“Jon, Reggie Burrows,” I waved the pistol at the man on the floor and shook my head no as he tried to stand, “is bleeding all over my bedroom floor. He says to bring the bag because he has four silver bullets in him that need to be removed before it kills him. And if he does not work for you, I am going to put a silver bullet in his head and kill him.”
“He is my accountant,” I heard Jon sigh. “If you finish him off, I do not blame you, but I will never know where he has buried all the money. I apologize for his rude and inconsiderate ways. I am presently working a scene for recovering a body. Tank,” I heard him call out. “I am needed elsewhere. I think we are finished here.
Ellen,” his voice was kind, “we are on our way back to the hospital and I’ll be at your house in about one hour.
Reginald,” his tone changed and he was laughing, “if you think you are going to die, I command you to tell Ellen where the gold from the sacking of Rome in 1084 is buried.”