“What did you say?!” all the men squawked at the same time nearly busting my ear drums. Except for Burt who sat off to the side with a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel held to the back of his head. Burt took one look at me, winced, and went back to letting Delly give him some tender-loving care that had been marinated in cider vinegar.
Bringing my attention back to those surrounding me I said, “One of the ways you can identify him is he is going to have to pick a ball bearing out of his right man boob. I saw the blood. It went pretty far into the meat from the look of the shock on his face and the way he was holding it and shouting that I’d shot him.”
Well a couple of them absolutely could not make any sense after that so it was up to Deputy Darla Riddle to get the whole story out of me.
I sighed and shook my head. “Mind if I sit down? It hasn’t exactly been fun trying to keep everyone from throwing an even worse fit than those jerks did when Burt Jr. dropped the bay door down on them.”
“Sure. As a matter of fact how about we move over here while Deputy Thompson gets statements from the men.”
“Bound to be quieter that’s for sure. And when Sawyer – Sawyer Hartford, that’s my husband – gets here he’ll make enough noise to drown out all of them combined.”
Deputy Darla tried not to smile but then said, “Yeah. Sawyer and I went to school. So maybe we better get this done quickly.”
After I sat down I explained, “I came to town with Sawyer today because see I don’t drive. It’s not that I can’t because I can, just I don’t have insurance so can’t drive except on the farm and even then I don’t drive much because … well because I just don’t; it is a waste of fuel.” She nodded like she understood so I continued. “So Sawyer was going to drop me off at the store, run a couple of errands, and then pick me up until he heard about what went on in town this morning but since we were already out he brought me by Burt’s warehouse instead … Burt is his sister’s husband.”
“And you were here for …?”
“Because Sawyer needed to check out a … well … if you went to school with Sawyer you know the story. It was his ex-girlfriend and her family. Her dad and brother are kinda real touchy but her mom is nice from what I understand and Sawyer wasn’t really going to get involved just make sure if they … well, a lot of people probably won’t understand.”
“You’re right. A lot of people won’t understand but I know Sawyer and Lisa and I can see Sawyer …”
She sputtered to a stop and I filled the rest in for her. “Being sympathetic and wanting people to understand he isn’t the jerk he was painted as.”
Deputy Darla nodded though I wasn’t sure exactly what she was thinking. She probably plays poker really well if she does such stuff. “I haven’t even heard how that went yet. More trouble today we do not need. Anyway, Sawyer really wanted to go and I don’t have a problem with that or that he did in fact go. I want that in your report. I don’t want people getting the wrong idea. It is just that Sawyer wasn’t real keen on me going since he didn’t know what his reception would be or if there was more trouble to come so Burt said I could stay here and help him go through some of his new inventory which suited me because they wanted me to look at some antique kitchen gadgets to see it I knew what they were so they could be cataloged properly.”
“So you were basically here as a consultant.”
Slowly I nodded. “I suppose; but I’d never get quite so egotistical about it. Family helps family and that’s what I was doing because I’m family now, you can ask anyone. Well Burt Jr. and I are going to town, separating silverware into bins by manufacturer and style if possible. We ran across what looks like an entire set of Sheffield – that’s an English eating utensil manufacturer that specialized in bone and ivory handles – and I knew Burt would be excited about that so I went to the office to tell him. I walk in the door only to spot him on the floor with some great big, shirtless, fat dude standing over him with a crowbar.”
“Did you scream or make any sound to draw the man’s attention?”
“No. I’m sorry it just didn’t occur to me to scream. In my experience screaming is more like a hunting cry for certain types of males and since I’m not what you would call light or fast on my feet I backed out without a sound. But then Burt Jr. yells and I turn and there’s these wild looking men running at us – we had the bay open to let out some of the heat from the warehouse. Well I yell at Burt Jr. to drop the door, it’s so easy that a kid can do it since it is lever operated. Only I kind of misjudged how fast they were going or how slow the door was going. I thought the door would close before they got there but instead it dropped right on top of them. One of them was knocked out clean and the other two were pinned like bugs and they started yelling and carrying on because the door is too big to just push up and escape from. Well all this time I’ve continued to back up but then there is a bull roar from the office and the big, fat, half-naked guy comes running out. Also, I’d backed myself into a corner.”
“And is this where the sling shot comes in?”
“Basically yeah. See Burt Jr. is teaching me to how to safely use the wrist rocket. I can hit the cans he places on the fence post most of the time now and last time he was out at the farm he showed me how to hunt safely and humanely with it. He’s a pretty good teacher even though he’s just a kid. Well we’d been clearing the rats out of the warehouse earlier until Burt was getting a little cheesed off at all the noise so we stopped but we’d left it on that stainless steel sink over there. We figured if the ball bearings were going to fall, better for them to fall in that sink than roll all over the floor like they did the first time we dropped them. So when the half-naked fat guy turned toward me with that crowbar raised like a club I just picked up the wrist rocket and hit him in the man boob since it made such a handy target.”
“Handy … target?”
“Yeah but I’m kind of surprised that I was actually able to hit it. Both of them were bouncing all over the place out of time with each other. It was completely disgusting.”
“Disg … uh …” She stopped and squinched her eyes like she was fighting off a headache. “So you shot him in self-defense.”
“Yes; in the right man boob. And that’s when he started running around holding it and crying that he’d been shot. I pulled back to let another fly if he went towards Burt Jr. but instead the guy barrels through the side door, nearly taking it off the hinges – there’s a dent in the side of the building where the doorknob hit – and I don’t know which direction he went from there because I was yelling for Burt Jr. to stay away from the pinned men and trying to get to Burt … Burt Sr. … who stumbled out of the office with blood gushing all over and ready for bear.”
“He had that big ol’ aluminum bat that’s leaning against the table where Burt’s wife set it. She’s not too happy he didn’t coming out with his gun but you got to cut the guy some slack after all, his head was bashed in and all he could think of was protecting his son. I think it was pretty noble myself.”
Burt Jr. called over, “Yeah, Dad was cool. Just like that guy in that movie Sissy thinks is soo cute. Only that guy had a battle axe and Dad had a bat and he wasn’t wearing a skirt like that movie guy was wearing. So that makes Dad even cooler.”
Deputy Darla squinched her eyes again signaling the headache was getting worse. Then a truck flies into the parking lot followed by a cop car with its lights flashing. Sawyer runs toward the warehouse followed by two deputies who keep telling him to stop. He runs into the warehouse and does this strange little dance before his foot flew up and his back flies down.
Burt Jr. then observes, “Hey Kay-Lee! I think Sawyer found a couple of ball bearings that we missed!”
I move and get there as fast as I can and land beside him and Sawyer is trying to draw a breath after having had it knocked out of him. He finally asks, “Are you ok?!”
“Sure. But I might kinda be in trouble. I shot a guy in the right man boob.”
For a long time Sawyer just laid there looking at me like he wasn’t too sure he’d heard what I'd said.
“I’m relieved that Burt doesn’t have a concussion. Although for a while there I thought Delly was going to give him one. Burt Jr. is stepping lightly around her too.”
We were in the parking lot of the warehouse about to leave after having made sure that everything was locked up. Sawyer leaned on his steering wheel and shook.
“Sawyer? Sawyer?! Are you ok?”
“Don’t do that no more.”
“Don’t do what?”
“That. Get hurt. Don’t do it anymore.”
“I didn’t get hurt.”
“You could have.”
“But I didn’t. I’m not completely helpless. I mean shooting a guy …”
“Dammit Kay-Lee, you didn’t shoot anyone so stop saying that. Sure I mean you got that guy in his tit but … but …” Suddenly Sawyer is howling with laughter. “Oh my gawd woman … you went around saying you shot the guy’s tit like it is something you do every other day.”
Indignant I snapped, “I did not use that word. I said I hit him in the man boob. It was his right one.”
Sawyer just goes off again. People are looking … no they’re staring … and some of them must have known what he was laughing about because they start laughing and pretty soon I’m wondering if the whole bunch of them don’t need some kind of tranquilizer. I put it down to needing to release some pent up energy and I just sit there and wait it out. I think that part got more than a few chuckles too as all I could do is cross my arms and roll my eyes at Sawyer’s antics.
“My gawd Kay-Lee. I love you soooo much.”
And then I couldn’t breathe. “You what?”
“I said I love you.”
It was like all of the oxygen in the truck was sucked out. He had stopped laughing and asked, “Are you ok?”
“Yeah. Just … you said you loved me.”
“Really? ‘Cause you’ve … you’ve never said it before … I know because … well because.”
“I must have.”
“No. No you haven’t.”
“Well I do. Does it bother you?”
“No.” After a moment I added, “Are you talking like a friend? Like Linda has said to me before?”
“No. I’m talking like I love you with all my heart.”
“Wow. ‘Cause … you know that’s how I feel about you but … but … I just figured … I mean …” I turned and looked him full in the face. “You really do?”
“I really do love you Kay-Lee. And it’s really with all my heart.”
“Oh Sawyer.” Well I was out of my seatbelt and in his lap faster than we’ve ever managed to do before. He was a little startled but got into it quick enough. I didn’t even care about the cat calls and whistles from the parking lot. Sawyer had said he loved me. I hadn’t even realized I was waiting for him to say it. I hadn’t thought he would ever say something like that to me. But he had. And suddenly there didn’t seem like there could be anything bad enough in the world to dim what I was feeling.