B. B. Wright
“Whoa!” Jeffrey Deaver’s outstretched arm stopped the forward motion of his companion in his tracks. For a moment, the two of them stood frozen in the door frame facing down at Ethan’s Glock pointing up at them from under the kitchen table. “Ethan?” Getting no reply, only a cold stare from him, Jeffrey let his revolver dangle from his forefinger. “I’m going to put my revolver on the floor and kick it over to you.” Turning to his companion he said: “You do the same, John.” The two revolvers slid across the floor, stopping a few inches short from where Ethan continued to keep his gun trained on them.
“Both of you take two steps in. Jeff, you turn to the right and you there, directing John with the tilt of his Glock, to the left. Now face the wall and take the position.” Arms outstretched, Jeffrey and John leaned into the wall in front of them and spread their legs apart.
Louise gave a slight tug at Ethan’s arm lying across her. “Ethan. The captain’s here to protect me.”
The bridge of Ethan’s nose pinched together as he glanced over at her. “Protect you? Protect you from what?”
“From you asshole!” bellowed Jeffrey. “Who else?”
“From me?!” He turned and glared at Louise. “Do you know what the hell he’s talking about?” Getting no answer, he nodded for her to follow him as he slipped out from under the table and stood up. When she was standing beside him, he turned and faced her. “Well? What in heaven’s name is he talking about?”
Louise pursed her lips and looked down at the floor. “Ethan…I…”
Ethan rolled his tongue around the inside of his mouth before pushing it against the inside and bulging out his lower lip. He looked over at Jeffrey and the other man. Biting on his lower lip, he let out a long sigh before turning his attention back to Louise.
“Look. Ethan. This position is getting kinda uncomfortable,” complained Jeffrey. “Do you mind?”
“Yes, I do mind! So, stay put!” Ethan stepped away from Louise to scrutinize the living-room through the opening to the dining-room from the kitchen side. A spider web configuration around a hole in the upper corner of the large living-room window left no doubts in his mind that a bullet had entered through it. Maneuvering slightly to obtain a better view and not diverting his attention from the two men except for seconds at a time, his trained eyes followed the bullet’s trajectory from the window through the chandelier in the dining-room and into where the mirror had been on the back wall. He reflected on where he and Louise were standing when the shot rang out. He felt a cold chill travel up his spine as he looked at the now empty wall and then down at the shards of mirror on the floor. He murmured under his breath: “Jesu…the shooter saw me…my reflection … in that goddamn mirror.” He glanced over at Louise. “They were shooting at me. They had to be.”
“Ethan? What did you say? Are you alright?” Louise asked, somewhat flummoxed by his appearance.
“Nothing important…I said nothing important. Here.” He said holding out his gun. “I hope Tom taught you how to handle one of these?” Acknowledging that he had with a smile and nod, she took it. “Good! Now, shoot the sonofabitch who so much as twitches.” And, he walked over to Jeffrey and began to pat him down. “You know Jeff, I think that bullet was meant for me. So, obviously there’s some kinda flaw in your reasoning, don’t you think?” Finished, he quickly moved across to John and repeated the process.
“What makes you think it was meant for you?” Jeffrey growled as he watched Ethan pat down John. “Maybe you set it up to look that way.”
““Look that way”?” Ethan rolled his eyes. “Look you overstuffed retired fathead, all you have to do is follow the trajectory of the bullet. If I had been two steps that’a way it would have hit me square in the middle of my forehead. Whoever it was, thought it was me not my reflection.”
Slightly flustered, Jeffrey replied: “I’ve only got your word on that.”
“There was a time, Jeff, when my word carried weight with you.”
Jeffrey shrugged: “Times change.”
Louise interjected: “Jeff, I think he’s telling the truth.”
“Maybe…you’re right…still, I need to see it for myself.” He motioned to straighten up. “So do you mind, Ethan?”
“Do you mind?” he asked again, emphasizing his intent with the wave of one of his hands.
“Yes I do mind! So stay the fuck there!” Satisfied that John wasn’t carrying any concealed weapons, Ethan stepped back and shook his head in dismay. “It wasn’t me who burst in here with guns drawn, Jeffrey. As far as I know it could have been you or your sidekick who laid down that shot.”
“Really? Now, come on. Do you really believe that?”
“Like you said, Jeff: “Times change.””
“It’s getting fucking difficult standing like this,” Jeffrey replied, not trying to conceal his frustration. “By now you must have established that John and I aren’t carrying. Huh? So what’d ya say?”
Ethan turned to retrieve his Glock from Louise but found it aimed at his head. “Aah, I think Louise will have to make that call.”
“Louise? What the hell are you talking about?” Jeffrey glanced back over his shoulder. “Oh!.” He began to change position when a bullet from her gun slammed into the wall centimeters above his head. “Fuck! Okay! I’ll hold it!”
“Ethan, get over beside Jeffrey! NOW!” she commanded.
Pepper rounded the corner from the hallway barking and jumped up at Louise. The distraction was long enough for Ethan to twist the Glock from her grasp and regain command of the situation.
“Please sit there,” he directed her, pointing to the far end of the table as he backed up slightly. “As for you two, stretch yourself out and join her. And, keep your hands flat on the table.” Once the three of them were seated, he reached down and patted Pepper’s head. “Good boy! Louise? Where do you keep his treats?”
“In the pantry behind you, top shelf,” she replied.
Backing up he opened the cupboard with his free hand, found the box of treats and lifted it down and poured some into Pepper’s bowl. Ethan watched as Pepper gobbled it up. “By the way he ate it, it must be pretty good stuff.” Louise smiled back and nodded. He then looked at the three of them with a long, hard stare. “Well, I think it’s time to discuss what just happened and…why I’m here. Don’t you think?”