Friday, November 23, 2012
The sound froze Yvonne's heart mid-beat: A shotgun being racked.
During his thirty years with the Department, her Walt had described the sound as the gates of Hell closing.
Now she understood why.
What Yvonne didn't understand, what her sleep-fogged brain couldn't measure in the dark stillness of her own lonely bedroom: Why the sound had come from the foot of her bed.
Panic roared in her ears. Her mouth, dry as cotton. And though her heart had restarted and was beating like a moth trapped inside her chest, Yvonne remained perfectly still. Listening. Waiting.
It was him.
Being a County Sheriff's wife had been its own kind of hell. But it also taught Yvonne to be prepared for the day some lowlife scumbag smoked enough courage to take revenge on the lawman's family. Walt had been taken a year ago, yet she still slept with a loaded Walther P99 under her pillow. In three decades she'd fired it in earnest once, to shoot a rattlesnake that had crawled inside her kitchen cabinet.
Tonight she'd be killing a different kind of serpent.
Keeping her breath slow, Yvonne scanned the room with slit-lidded eyes, searching for a black shape in the darkness like a hole in the night sky. The 9mm was near her right hand. She raised her head a fraction of an inch and felt for the weapon that would become the Hammer of God, Dispenser of Justice.
There! Virgil Sims. Had to be, by the size of him. The scum was coming around the side of the bed, starlight from the window silhouetting the shotgun he hadn't yet leveled at Yvonne.
He's cocky. Probably hoped this old woman would see him and beg for mercy. Else, why wait to rack the gun? Why not sneak in here ready and pull the trigger?
Walt's strong, kind voice came to her. "If you have the advantage, Vonnie, use it. Bad guys don't fight fair. Only good people do...and they wind up dead."
In one smooth motion Yvonne pulled the gun from under her pillow and fired four rounds at the shadow. Virgil's shotgun went off, deafening her. It splintered the headboard and sent shards of hand-carved Arkansas oak into Yvonne's scalp and cheek. Her skin caught fire, but Yvonne's hand held steady.
The shotgun dropped to the floor beside the bed. Virgil crumpled into a heap.
Blood streaming onto her cotton nightgown, Yvonne sat up and slowly emptied the magazine into his body, saying her children's names with each shot.
"That's for Jenny...and Harden...and Melissa. That's for my grandbabies, who miss their Papaw."
Yvonne knew exactly how many bullets she'd used: Fourteen.
She pointed her gun at the man-shape--where Virgil's heart would be if he'd ever had one--and pulled the trigger one last time.
"And that's for Walter James Scofield--" Her voice had been strong--from the adrenaline, she supposed--but dissolved into a heartbroken whisper, "who loved me more than life itself."
Cheers...and Happy Writing!