People screamed in the other room. After the sound of the blast subsided, I heard a chorus of whimpering and moans.
Harry was not playing with a full deck. He was always few cans short of a six-pack, but Harry was coming up short across the board and I wasn’t sure what to do. If I continued to engage him, I might get shot. If I backed off, everyone might get shot.
Harry’s toothpick twirled and glass eye glared. His ever dressed-to-the-hilt attire always worried me, but I’d pegged Harry suicidal rather than homicidal. I’d always thought Harry would implode alone somewhere with a razor. Harry’s cool attitude was a bit contrived. There was a frightening edge to Harry’s jousting at the poker table.
Facing the business end of Harry’s cannon, all the times Harry acted weird made some kind of odd sense.
Harry S. Trunk was such an important player in our little town, I passed off his eccentric behavior as quirky and never considered that it might turn dangerous.
“Harry,” I shouted. It was the only thing I could think to do. I might again be the recipient of Harry’s rage and find myself with a neat little hole in my chest, but I had to do something.
“Harry, god-damnit,” I screamed, as the chrome pistol swung back toward the bathroom. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Harry brought the big pistol back around to bear on my chest and I immediately regretted every word. But, the big gun swung carelessly and hung loose in his hand. It was not a shooter stance.
“Harry.” I spoke more softly, though the report of the gun still rang my ears. “Gees, man, what’s happening? Why are you doing this?”
“She’s ruined me,” he said with a catch in his voice. His chin quivered. “She ruined me.”
“How has she ruined you?”
“She forced me into bankruptcy. I’ve never recouped.”
“Harry, you’re still the main player in this county. You still are Mr. Right when it comes to the who’s who around here. How could you say you’re ruined?”
“Trust me, I’m ruined, and it’s all because of that bitch.” Harry’s gun hand stiffened, he turned toward the living room and his eyes searched the building.
“Harry.” I screamed. Harry’s attention returned to the bathroom. “What will this accomplish? What will shooting her do but land you in jail?”
“It’ll even the score.”
“You looking to go to prison?”
Harry S. Trunk looked up with his single pool-shooter eye and directly into mine. “I don’t care anymore. One prison or another, it doesn’t matter.”
The guy really didn’t care. He’d shoot the Stalworth woman, then probably finish with the rest of us.
“There must be some other way out of this.”
“I don’t think so.”
As if he’d made up his mind, Harry turned and moved toward the living room.
“Harry.” I yelled as I leapt outside the bathroom and looked at the backside of him stomping along the hall. “Where are you going?”
“Get that Stalworth bitch.”
Several whimpering voices came from the living room.
Not being a man prone to violence, I wasn’t prepared for the next few seconds, nor was I ready to do what I had to do. I wasn’t expecting to do what I did, but I did it, and that was a surprise in itself.
I took three quick steps to close the gap. I laid myself out, sliding into the backs of Harry’s knees and knocked him down like a bowling pin.
Harry flipped over me and onto his back as the third ear-shattering blast filled the room.
With a speed surprising even me, I rolled out and stood. The barrel was pointing at my face.
Harry’s index finger turn from tan-pink to pressure white. The muzzle flashed. I recited a quick prayer.
To find my way
in this darkness.
to make my day
safe from those
who would harm me.
I hadn’t said the prayer since I was a kid. The explosion tore at my already shattered eardrums as another bullet flew past me. A jingle ran through my mind. “Faster than a speeding bullet.”
Instead of running, I leapt at Harry and grabbed for his gun.
I own eleven completely-restored Volkswagens. Last night I saved Bunny Ollinski and I’d been talking the madman down for an hour. That alone rates me as a hero. When the guy burst into the house, he turned our calm discussion into pandemonium.
When the first bullet left the gun, I let loose with an involuntary screech and jumped behind the couch. Marylou and Marie followed. We would have left the building, but the hall faced the front door and the gunman had it covered.
When the crazy man sent another screaming bullet into the ceiling above my head, I took Bunny’s hand. “We got to get out of here.”
Marylou grabbed my arm. “Take me with you.”
I nodded at her and peeked over the top of the couch. The crazy man was yelling and swinging his gun at the guy in the bathroom. I didn’t think anyone in the bathroom had much of a chance at the rate he was going.
I stood and sprinted across the room for the front door. I had no idea what I was going to do once outside, I just wanted out.
Little Bunny, the Flamenco dancer and myself were half way across the room, ducking in and out of table lamps, dining room chairs, tripping over throw rugs, when the crazy man turned.
Before the gun exploded for the third time, I looked around. When it went off, I was positive the bullet had my name on it.
The bathroom guy body-blocked the back of the gunman’s knees. I watched in horror as the muzzle flashed a fourth time. I was sure the bullet was closing in on my face, but not until a dusting of sheet rock powdered my head did I realize the bullet had punched a hole in the ceiling.
I wasn’t exactly a coward. Hell, I’d done the Baja One Thousand more than a few times, and a person can’t be a coward to pit himself against that kind of nature, but I surprised myself by pulling Bunny down behind me to protect her.
“You’ve been shot,” Marie shouted.
I couldn’t answer. My mouth wouldn’t move. My thoughts were jelly. My limbs wouldn’t obey. All I knew was I was much less of a target laying on the floor and it felt good to have Bunny in my arms.
She asked a second time. “Are you hurt?”
I shook my head and opened my mouth, but no words came out.
I watched in horror as the guy from the bathroom made his move at the madman, grabbing and missing the gun hand.
The barrel pointed in my direction a dozen times in the struggle as the two men wrestled. I couldn’t run. I was mesmerized. For the fifth time in as many minutes, the gun went off. This time no one knew where the bullet went. There was a halt in the struggle of the two men. Had one of them been shot?
Sam put himself in harm’s way to protect me. It was a first. I’d never met a man who didn’t have a what’s-in-it-for-me agenda. I was seeing Sam Kitridge in a different light. Instead of the goofy-looking, puppy-dog-faced, I’ll-do-anything-for-a-scrap-of-your-attention male, I saw a strong, self-reliant man. In a few seconds he’d turned into my hero.
The fourth explosion of the gun sent the bullet nowhere close to me, but I was sure if it had, Sam would have blocked the bullet with his body. My eyes softened. The horrible lines in my face relaxed. There was a tingling in my belly. I wanted to kiss him. I wanted to do other things with Sam Kitridge I hadn’t felt in a few years, since Frank raped me and sex became a nasty three-letter word.
Something about throwing his body in front of me lit my love fire.
The two men were still struggling. Sam tugged again, this time yanking me to my feet. We were half way to the door when the gun exploded and the fifth bullet slammed into the door directly in front of us.
“Hold it right there,” the voice of unreason demanded. The madman wasn’t going to let us go.
I turned, looked back and saw the husky guy lying flat.
Baldy’s gun was pointed in our direction. “Come back here and sit down.”
I continued to hold Sam’s hand as we turned and slowly retraced our steps to the couch. I pulled Sam down on the couch next to me. Ms. Stalworth sat on the far side of Sam.
Baldy grinned. “You don’t want to go, the party’s just beginning.”
Mr. Husky, lay on the floor moaning with a trickle of blood running from his right temple.
Baldy stepped back and sat at the far end of the living room on the settee, leaning comfortably on its one arm.
I slid close to Sam and squeezed his hand. I wanted to take him to the back room and squeeze something else.
I didn’t know what to do with the sudden turn of events. I hadn’t done anything different, but for no reason I could fathom, Bunny Ollinski was holding my hand.
Her body was close. Her warmth passed through her wrinkled waitress dress. One breast snuggled against my arm. In the midst of that madman Trunk holding us hostage at gunpoint and bullets flying every which way, me, the man with the smallest dick in the world found myself rising to the occasion.
CHAPTER #11 SARAN WRAP WARP
Other than the sound of that damn gun going off in the other room, I was paying no attention to the goings on. I had my hands full. When I came into the house, of all people, Harry Trunk was pointing a gun directly at me. I was so frazzled I shot him a glare.
“Harry, get out of my way.”
“Sit down, Yamelda.”
I walked past his pointing gun as if it was not there and pulled Billy through the living room toward the kitchen. I’d been dogging Harry for years. I was always sniffing around his sleazy deals.
“Fuck you Harry,” I said and disappeared into the kitchen.
Although I was freezing myself, I gave no quarry to my own needs. I was concentrating on my man. Caring for someone before myself was a first for me. It felt good. I lit the oven and fired all four burners on the gas stove. In the few minutes it took me to remove Billy’s soaked clothes, find a kitchen towel and dry him, the gun fired twice. Knowing how strange Harry Trunk was, even in the best of times, I wasn’t about to return to the living room. But there was nothing in the kitchen to cover my Billy. There were no blankets, no extra dry clothes, nothing except food and the warming oven. In the pantry I found the only thing that might help. At least I hoped it would help.
A number of years ago, one of my sexual playthings covered me in plastic wrap. It was fun, but he had to remove the wrap almost immediately because I got too hot. It was a long shot, but Billy was freezing and he didn’t look like he was going to warm up anytime soon, so I had to try. Just the thought of him surprised me with a tingle that spread from my solar plexus.
The room was warmer, but not enough. I tried to help Billy stand, but all he could do was hack up more of that damn river.
I shook him. “Get up you lug, so I can get you warm.”
He coughed up another mouthful of liquid and spit it onto the floor.
“You have to get up, Billy or you’ll freeze.”
He couldn’t stand.
Out of sheer frustration, I screamed in his ear, “Get your ass up Marlin, right this second, that’s an order!”
He leapt to his feet and saluted.
I knew it wouldn’t last, so I quickly spun my web of life around him, unrolling the Saran Wrap with each pass. In seconds I had him wrapped in the first layer. He fought the constraining layer, but had little strength. He tried to get his hands up, but I was too quick. I had a second, then third layer on him before he could push his way free. I swirled around him, spinning my cocoon. As the roll emptied, a third bullet made me jump when it crashed through the ceiling. I helped the cocooned and hacking Billy back to the chair. Almost instantly, his shivering subsided. He continued to hack and spit river water, but the Saran Wrap idea was a winner.
I stepped over to the stove to warm myself as the forth bullet sounded, snapped through the wall behind me, ricocheted off of a cabinet doorknob and disappeared through the wallboard above the sink. I dove for the floor, pulling Billy with me.
Although bullet number five came nowhere close to the kitchen, I hid behind the refrigerator.
Bullet number six took another five minutes. When it came, I jumped to my feet, sprung for the swinging door and dove for that idiot Trunk.
I wished I was back in the attic of my drug store with Cassandra. Please, anywhere would be fine as long as it was safe. I’d been sitting on the sofa, where Mr. Trunk told me to sit. I wasn’t about to move, unless, of course, Mr. Trunk wanted me to. I’m a practical man. Wrestling the gun away from the madman wasn’t a job for an old guy like me. It really wasn’t a job for anyone other than maybe Humphrey Bogart or Sam Spade.
When the knock came at the front door, Mr. Trunk looked at Cassandra. Up to the moment before Yamelda Keating and her entourage showed up, though Mr. Trunk held the gun, things had been pretty calm. He was relaxed. I had time to compose myself. The couple that came to shore in the Volkswagen were sitting next to me. The only person who wasn’t so calm was Cassandra, but she had a right to be nervous. The gun was pointed at her. The crazy man’s angry threats were directed toward her and her dead grandmother.
I wished I could have been Bogart for one minute. Just once in my pathetic life, I could save the damsel.
Mr. Trunk waved his gun hand toward the door. “Get rid of ‘em.”
I leapt from the couch toward the door.
“Not you.” Mr. Trunk pointed his pistol directly at Cassandra. “Bitch woman, you get the door.”
She slowly got up.
“Do it now,” Mr. Trunk growled.
Cassandra stepped across the room and opened the door. The stocky fellow shoved the door inward, pulling the little skinny guy with him.
When the stocky guy slammed the gun out of Mr. Trunk’s hand, I could have sprinted for the door, but I didn’t. The first shot scared the piss out of me. A moment later, when the second report zinged over the top of my head, I was ready to sprint for safety, but all I’d managed to do was huddle on the couch.
The third and fourth shots confirmed my foolishness in not making an escape, but the fifth bullet was the clincher. It was all I could take.
With the ear-shattering fifth report from that gun, while the two men wrestled on the floor in front of me, I, William Dickerman, druggist, Mickey Spillane want-to-be, Humphrey Bogart look-alike, leapt to my feet and ran for the door. Without turning, without even wanting to know whether the next bullet was destined to plow through my back, without taking Cassandra with me, I grabbed the door handle and yanked it open. I sprinted through the door and pulled it closed behind me. I was free. As fast as my old frame could carry me, I ambled for the boat.
I was halfway along the carefully-manicured, rose-bush-bordered path, when bullet number six left the gun. The report startled me. We looked later and found that the bullet pierced the center of the heavy wooden front door like it was cotton candy and made a streak right down the very path I was running.
The Dog Man’s teeth were chattering as they rode in the boat across Tenican Heights Bay. Dog was thinking about nothing else except for them pillowcases filled with booty.
Dog Man turned to Billy and whispered, “How will Dog and Billy retrieve the goods?”
Billy shrugged. He said something, but to The Dog, it didn’t make sense.
Was Sundog suffering from hypothermia? Dog had read about the symptoms in Guns and Ammo last fall. Dog Man might not survive, but he’d already cashed in the goods and was in Peru with more blow than any one person could snort.
Dog had been led by Tammy out of the boat, into the house and under a warm cover before the first shot was fired. Dog was sure it was a three-fifty-seven. Dog Man had shot a three-fifty-seven many times. The report had a sound of authority.
Once the gun went off, The Dog was on duty. He was back on track, ready at a split second to spring for the door or a window. Dog would crawl up the chimney to get away from the business end of a three-fifty-seven. Sundog wasn’t anybody’s fool. The first chance Dog got, he was headed for the door.
The problem was, Sun Dog Man Anderson, -and no one knew the Dog’s last name– maker of men, lover of women, man among men, the very pinnacle of the male species, had been hobbled out the gate.
The second bullet flew right between Dog’s legs and split his gold anklet. The Dog had hid it on the inside of a sock for ten years and never shown it even to Billy, you’re-a-fag-if-you-wear-jewelry, Marlin.
Dog Man had been given the anklet by a Sandra with a promise that she’d return before it fell off. Ten years later, her name couldn’t be mentioned without The Dog choking up. The Dog Man had waited all that time for it to fall off. When the bullet broke the anklet, Dog look to the front door expecting Sandra to saunter in. She didn’t.
The Dog Man was about to leap for the door when that cheapskate Harry Trunk stomped down the hall. Sundog was certain Trunk blamed Dog for breaking into Harry’s house and cleaning him out. Dog Man pointed toward the kitchen. “It was Billy.”
Lucky for the Dog, the stocky guy tackled Harry at that moment. As they tumbled to the ground, the gun went off for the third time. The Dog Man leapt to his feet and took a run for the door. When Dog’s right foot hit the floor, his ankle gave way. Dog found himself face down screaming with pain on the floor in front of Trunk.
Dog looked at Tammy. “I’m shot.”