Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sleeping with a Gun!

It was a dark and stormy night… Ok, it wasn’t stormy but it was dark. Dear John worked shift work and every third week meant night shift. Because he knew he would be gone so many nights, he taught me to use the shotgun; how to load, unload, cock and un-cock, and fire. I, of course, thought I would never need it, but still considered it useful information. And if I did happen to need it, I certainly wasn’t afraid of it. I was a brave girl; had always been the one to chase down things that go bump in the night with a baseball bat or whatever was handy while my mother and sisters huddled together in the dark saying “Be careful!”

But when I got pregnant, I lost my mind. I became the biggest scardey cat in SC. I heard birds in the chimney one night and stayed awake all night staring at the fire place, waiting on the aliens to come and get me and my baby. They already had my brain, after all.

On this particular night, I had gone to bed with all the lights on, like I did every night during my early pregnancy. It was around midnight or a little later (even back then I didn’t sleep much) when I thought I heard something in the back yard. Now, we live in the country. We have neighbors, but none I could really call to come and check all the little things I heard and none who should’ve been messin’ around my backyard. I listened for a few minutes and decided that, yes, there was something out there and I was not going to sit there and be a, well, a sitting duck. I got up, got the shotgun which was already loaded and hauled it into bed with me. I wasn’t a girl scout, but I still believed in being prepared, so I cocked it. And waited.

And waited a little while more. Of course, nothing happened. The few brain cells I had that were not suffering from PHT (pregnancy hormone toxicity) banded together and convinced me that sleeping with a loaded, cocked shotgun was a bad idea and that I should un-cock it. The one wee problem with that plan was that I had forgotten how to do just that. But I forged ahead until BBOOOOOOMMMMMM! It was no longer an issue. The walls rattled, my ears rang and the mattress smoked. Well, it didn‘t actually smoke. But it was missing almost the entire right lower corner (I had had sense enough not to point it in my direction!) The closet door, which was on the wall facing the foot of our bed and just to the right, was open. So Dear John’s one good suit (we were young bohemians who didn’t dress up often) got peppered with birdshot, as did the closet wall, some other clothes and a vintage Samsonite suitcase (although I didn’t know it at the time - I wasn’t into vintage then) that had been given to John by an uncle.

I sat there and waited on the neighbors to come rushing from all around and the police to come barreling down the road with their blue lights flashing and tires squealing to save little ol’ me . And nothing happened. Nothing happened! “Well,” I thought. “Good thing I wasn’t really in trouble!” After wondering for a bit how I was ever going to explain this, I turned the lights out and went to sleep until time for my sweet honey to come home.

It was still dark when I heard his key in the lock. The lights were on behind him and, as he came down the hall toward the bedroom, all I could see was his silhouette. (Good thing I knew it was him and didn’t have that gun all ready to go again.) Before he actually got in the room, I said, in a grave voice, “John, turn the lights on. I have something to tell you and its bad!” With his right arm, he reached to the wall beside his left shoulder and flipped the switch for the over head light. The look on his face was heartbreaking. It had drained of all color. The dark circles which he normally has under his eyes were darker than usual; a combination of steel dust and lack of sleep. And his expression was one of horrible expectation. I flung the covers back, exposing the wounded mattress and said, “I’ve shot the bed!”

I don’t know what he was expecting to hear, but that obviously wasn’t it. He sank to his knees at the end of the bed, dropped his head in his hands and slowly shook it back and forth. “Beverly, Beverly, Beverly!” he said. Only with a Southern accent it comes out, “ Bervly, Bervly, Bervly!”

After he recovered, we went back to sleep for awhile. When we got up, he was able to repair the mattress with iron-on patches and fishing line. The sheets and blanket, however, did not survive. It was then that he told me that if anybody ever did break into the house that I would have to club them to death with the gun because I wasn’t allowed to ever load it again.

The next week, when we were telling his mama what happened, I was touched by her care and concern….for the suitcase. “It was Samsonite!” she said.


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