Kathleen, my octogenarian mother was snatched from sleep at three in the morning by the sound of hysterical screaming and pounding on her front door. Through the peep hole, she recognized her neighbor, a frail, single mother clutching her toddler and tiny infant, begging to come in. Mother was horrified to hear that Melinda had been raped at gunpoint, the lives of her tiny children threatened. Nonetheless, Melissa called the police and an investigation was begun.
The next morning, the neighborhood was in an uproar. Residents stood in the streets discussing the details and studying the composite drawing. Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their son Jeremy stood on the edge of the crowd listening intently. Mother had been meaning to go meet them, so as a friendly neighbor, she pulled them into the conversation.
Of course, the rape was on everybody’s mind, so Mother launched into her rapist defense plan, boasting of the shotgun under her bed and her plan to shoot to kill, not mentioning the rusty shotgun hadn’t been fired in thirty years, and never by her. She didn’t even know if she had shells. She was ready. Eventually, tiring of the drama, the crowd dispersed and went about business as usual.
About two hours later, Mother was surprised to answer her door to Mr. Smith and Jeremy. She had liked them well enough, but hadn’t expected them to accept her invitation to coffee so soon. After chatting a bit, Mr. Smith brought up the rape. Mother launched into her plan for the rapist, getting more excited as she continued, embellishing the agony in store for him should he be so foolish as to cross her path. She wasn’t one of those namby-pambies who feared killing an intruder. She’d go straight for the heart. Should there be anything left afterward, she’d empty her gun in him just for fun. Jeremy, a sullen teenager, rolled his eyes as much as he dared in the company of his father. He was a little smart aleck, but Mother still thought it was nice of him to come down with his dad to check on her.
Mr. Smith was still very concerned about Mother’s safety despite hearing of her excellent rapist deterrent plan. Inspecting her locks for security, finding scratches on her back door, showing the rapist had tried but failed to gain entry there. He asked to see her shotgun, and upon inspection, found the safety rusted shut. When he asked her if she had a pistol, it caught her by surprise. She had to admit she didn’t. Mr. Smith pulled an heirloom quality pistol from his jacket, showed Mother how to fire it, had her demonstrate, loaded it and left, Jeremy in tow. Mother was touched at his concern and generosity, realizing the pistol would be a lot more good to her than the ancient shotgun with no shells, at least theoretically.
A few days rocked by. The Smiths moved. Little Jenny Whitmore who lived opposite the Smiths recognized Jeremy from the composite photo. He was arrested, confessed to the rape and sent back to Wisconsin to serve the rest of his suspended sentence on his previous conviction for sexual assault. Now Mother understood Mr. Smith’s concern for her safety. Melissa and her babies moved away.
Life settled back down. Relieved to have this business settled, Mother’s little neighborhood once again felt safe, secure and friendly. The only fly in the ointment was when Mr. Smith came calling a few weeks later to reclaim Mother’s/his lovely pearl-handled pistol, not so generous after all. She still feels bad about having to give up that sweet little pistol. It was cute and old, just like her. (to be continued)