After a sleepless fitful night, the fishpond was the balm needed to restore my tranquility. The reds, oranges, and yellows of autumn leaves floated gently to the water’s surface, there to rest until I broke out my net to collect them. The fish rose like behemoths of the deep to capture anything that clung to them on their journey. Ripples from their breaching lapped gently on the moss-covered rocks lining the shore. As the sun broke through the trees, I sipped my coffee and reached for the Oregonian, wondering what mayhem occurred overnight. The news was so bad lately I’d thought about cancelling my subscription but hadn’t because they needed my support in a time where TV or internet news was the main source for most. I still loved my Sunday crosswords and the comics so I let it ride.
Two days earlier, I was shocked to hear that my old friend Glynda died after falling from the trail by Multnomah Falls. I supposed that sadness contributed to my tossing and turning the night before. While reading about her demise I tried to focus on the many sun-filled, laughter-laden frolics we shared over the years. When my eyes welled up with tears, I put the paper down, refilled my cup from the thermos jug, then refocused on the pond. The bright song of a robin perched on an overhanging branch lifted my spirits as I wiped away the tears. The fish moved to their feeding spot and started circling, so I rose and walked to the food container I keep on the porch. Their frantic attack on the handful of pellets I tossed in reminded me that life goes on without interruption due to anyone’s passing. I was feeling much calmer until I heard a loud click and the squeak of my gate opening. I wasn’t expecting anyone, so suspicion replaced tranquility immediately.
I’m not a violent person, but lately I’d been keeping baseball bats scattered around the house just in case. A girl living alone these days was vulnerable to home invasion. When I peeked around the corner, my knees felt weak and fear surged through my body. Two people were sauntering down the pathway like they owned the place. The woman was ragged and dirty, and the man had a gun. They were obviously tweekers and had targeted me as their next source of drug money. I quickly realized that I had the advantage because my car was in the shop and it looked like I wasn’t home. I was between them and the back door so I could take at least one of them out with the bat I was gripping so hard my knuckles were white, as they came around the corner. Did I have the gumption to do it? Inflicting harm went against my nature but becoming a victim wasn’t a desirable outcome.
Fortunately, the man poked the gun around the corner before stepping further into the yard. I gathered my courage and smashed his gun hand with a swing Mickey Mantle would be proud of. He screamed in pain as the gun skittered away. As he recoiled, the woman surged forward, brandishing a kitchen knife. I knew I needed to deal with her quickly before the man could recover and come at me. For the moment, he was on his knees, holding a broken wrist. When she closed in, I used the fat end of the bat to punch her in the gut, then raised it overhead to hit her on the back when she doubled over. I didn’t have to. She vomited, then raised her hand in surrender. Obviously, I packed a pretty mean punch. Meanwhile, the man realized I meant business and would be hard to subdue in his condition. They scrabbled away, but not before threatening a return visit. That thought worried me for a moment but I realized their transitory lifestyle would intervene and they would find easier targets. After filing a report with the cops, I poured myself a bourbon on the rocks, then went back to the fishpond. It wasn’t yet noon but as the saying goes, it had to be five-o-clock somewhere and I’d already had a hell of a day.