Joe’s shot ricocheted off a metal pipe next to the back wall of the attic and made a sound reminiscent of the near misses in old-time cowboy shows on television. The sudden change in the pathway of the projectile sent it flying through an attic window, shattering the glass. Before the flying shards had even hit the floor, a slim figure burst forth from between two stacks of cardboard boxes and charged toward Joe, returning Joe’s gunfire and screaming like a banshee.
The distance between the intruder’s hiding place and Joe’s perch on the ladder was a mere fifteen feet, yet there was time for a miniature version of a young war as both Joe and the screaming shooter put forth their best efforts to survive this sudden death match.
The first shot from the fast-approaching terror thudded into the frame of the opening Joe occupied, missing him by two inches. Joe braced himself and fired twice in rapid succession, aiming for upper body, center mass. Unbelievably, the charging shooter anticipated his move by a fraction of a second, turning sideways and dropping to the floor, causing Joe to miss. Scrambling to a prone position, the shooter quickly popped off one more shot. This one tore into Joe’s shoulder, causing him to drop his gun.
Stunned, disarmed and bleeding, Joe knew his only route of escape was down. Too badly injured to climb down, he used his good arm to push off, and he tumbled to the floor of the hallway.
His vicious opponent wasted no time descending the ladder, hopping over Joe’s wounded body, and fleeing down the hall and out through the kitchen door, where Lena stood shivering in the corner, still on the phone with 9-1-1.
As soon as the perpetrator was out the door, Lena rushed over and shut it, locking it and collapsing against it. However, there was no time to waste now, so she ran to check on Joe, with the 9-1-1 operator still on the line. The operator stiffened in her chair as she heard a blood-curdling scream, “Joe!” from Lena.
Lena dropped to her knees at Joe’s side just as he began to moan. His head had thumped the floor pretty hard, but his shoulder hurt worse, so that’s where he put his hand. He was bleeding, but not enough that he would fear for his life. Apparently, no major arteries had been hit.
Maureen came trotting up the hall with a stack of towels to use on Joe’s wound. It’s a good thing she was calm enough to think clearly and begin first aid, because Lena was a wreck. As Lena rocked back and forth and cried, Maureen carefully wrapped and covered Joe’s wound, then held pressure on it.
Bette had picked up the phone where Lena had dropped it, and was now filling in the EMT operator with details that Lena had not been able to articulate.
Audrey stood next to Bette and filled in any empty spots in the information. Fortunately, the two of them had landed in a good observation spot during the chaos and pandemonium, and had plenty to tell the 9-1-1 operator, and then the police when they arrived.
“The shooter was a woman!” Bette was saying. “Small, kind of skinny, and with long, black hair. She was wearing jeans and a green sweatshirt. And running shoes!”
“She had a really pale face and a loud, shrill voice!” added Audrey. “Her pistol was still in her hand when she escaped, and it was one of those small handguns, like for women.”
The ambulance and police pulled up only seconds apart. Chief Middler ran into the house, managing to outpace even the EMTs.
Maureen pointed to where Joe was, and the Chief was on his knees beside Joe and Lena in mere seconds. Joe had managed to collect his thoughts by this time and was speaking softly to Lena, comforting her. “Honey, I’m okay. Everything will be fine,” he was telling her.
“Where are you hit, Joe?” the Chief asked.
“Two places, Chief. My shoulder and my pride.” Joe managed a quiet half-chuckle.
The EMTs rounded the corner of the hallway with the gurney and their equipment just then.
“I’m going to let these folks do their job, Joe,” said the Chief, and he got up. “Lena, is there anything I can do for you?”
Lena’s nose was running by now, from her crying. “Got a Kleenex?” she asked the Chief.
“I will get you one, ma’am,” he answered, and headed to the bathroom to look for a tissue. He found a box of Sav-Mor tissues, and brought her the whole box.
As Joe was loaded into the ambulance, and Lena, of course, right beside him, the Chief gathered Bette, Maureen, and Audrey in the kitchen to sit at the table with him and give him all the information they could about the shooter. He used his walkie-talkie and his cell phone to keep his crew apprised of every clue he got from these witnesses.
Once they had disclosed everything they knew about what had happened, there was one question that all three of the women had to ask the Chief, and when Maureen brought it up, the other two immediately jumped in with, “That’s what we want to know!”
The question was this: Is this incident related to the Village Marauder case?
“Well, ladies, that is a sixty-four-dollar question. I wish I knew the answer. Right now, you three know as much or more about today’s incident as I do,” said the Chief. “How about you all keep me posted if you think of anything else, and I will try to keep you updated with our progress?”
That sounded like a good deal to the ladies. They thanked him, and he thanked them, and the Chief headed to the ER to check on Joe.
Marla Jo had arrived at Joe and Lena’s house just at the Chief left, and was now busy checking out the scene of the crime, taking pictures and fingerprints, and stringing up some Crime Scene tape. “If I know you three ladies at all,” Marla Jo said, with a tone of half-kidding, “you are going to want to go up that ladder into that attic and snoop around. Don’t do it!”
“Well, rats!” said Bette. “There go my plans for the rest of the day.”
“Mine, too!” said Maureen.
“Ditto!” said Audrey. “Way to throw a wet blanket over three sleuthing senior citizens, Marla Jo!”
“Yep,” answered Marla Jo. “I’m not much fun. That’s why I don’t get invited to any parties.”
“If you will just let us go into that attic for fifteen minutes, we will throw a party just for you!” offered Maureen, with a grin. “With hors d’oeuvres and everything!”
“And champagne?” Marla Jo asked.
“Sure!” Maureen answered. “And caviar…or, let’s say, hot wings!”
“Sorry, gals. I was messing with you. I cannot, under any circumstances, let you into that attic.” Marla Jo closed the lid on her fingerprint kit and headed out the door.
“Rats!” said Bette.
“I agree,” said Maureen.
“Ditto,” said Audrey.
Stay Tuned For More To Come…
Chapter 1 – Click here.
Chapter 2 – Click here.
Chapter 3 – Click here.
Chapter 4 – Click here.
Chapter 5 – Click here.
Chapter 6 – Click here.
Chapter 7 – Click here.
Chapter 8 – Click here.
Chapter 9 – Click here.
Chapter 10 – Click here.
Chapter 11 – Click here.
Chapter 12 – Click here.
Chapter 13 – Click here.
Chapter 14 – Click here.
Chapter 15 – Click here.
Chapter 16 – Click here.
Click on the Author Block Below to Visit Nancy’s Listing of her Book, The Diery, on Amazon.com
Author Nancy Carlton
Nancy Carlton and her husband, Steve, have lived in the village for five and a half years. They have three children and three grandchildren. Nancy has been writing for many years, and loves to vary her projects between songwriting, authoring novels, and “cozy murder mysteries” and political commentary. Even poetry and the occasional short story are produced. She also sings with several groups in the village.
This chance to do a serial story in the Hot Springs Village Gazette is a fun and exciting new adventure!