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Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Honey Got A Gun

Few things wake a man faster than the sound of his wife pulling a handgun from his sock drawer. The smooth steel barrel of a Beretta being dragged across plywood makes, at 4:20 A.M., a distinctive sound. The wife retrieved the gun on her way back from the bathroom, and then slid into bed and lay perfectly still. I lay there wondering what I had done. Still no movement. I quickly reached over and put my hand on the gun. "What are you doing?"

She whispered very quietly, "I saw our bedroom door open and then close."

"Are you sure?" Silence. I began to repeat myself and she put a hand over my mouth. She leaned close. "The closet door is moving," she whispered.

Women, I thought, as I turned to see the closet door slowly opening.

You might be surprised how quickly you can chamber a round when you've got some incentive. It's hard not to be self-conscious when you are stalking a stalker in your closet. I felt like I was doing a bad imitation of a TV-show cop as I edged along the wall, flipped the closet light, and threw open the door, remembering to keep the gun chest high so as only to obliterate anyone over five feet tall.

Of course the closet was empty. I know multiple gunshot wounds can be messy (for let's face it, that gun was going to be fired more than once if at all), especially in one's closet, but I would have preferred shopping for new clothes to the extensive house search that was necessitated by not finding someone there. So I slid from room to room with nothing between me and the elusive intruders but boxer briefs and a .380. It wasn't as attractive as you might think; despite being black, the handgun is not slimming.

I found no one. The next day at lunch we had a chance to talk about it. "So do you still think you saw something last night?"

"Something woke me up, and then I saw the door move."

"Wait. You saw something, so first you went to the bathroom and then you got the gun?"

"Well, I had to go."

I'm trying to decide how I feel about that. I think I'll chalk it up to coolness under duress. I remember reading about a man in my home state of North Carolina who awoke one night to the sound of someone trying to break in through his front door. Like a good Southerner he grabbed his shotgun, but he didn't go to his front door. He wanted a clear shot. So, he went out his back door and crept around the side of his house, snuck up behind the would-be intruder, and aerated his torso.

The thing you should know about North Carolina is that it is, in the parlance of common law, a "home is the castle" state. In other words, unlike the oppressed people of Massachusetts, a Tarheel is legally entitled to fill you with holes if you try to violate his domicile (or his woman -- rape is also grounds for the use of lethal force). Thus this homeowner's action was perfectly legal. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the state troopers asked him to pose with them for a picture. He was as cool as the other side of the pillow, as they say. And so is someone who can take a leak when she thinks there's an intruder at our bedroom door.

Either that, or she figured the bad guy would get me first, giving her time to grab the handgun and squeeze off a few rounds.

I'll stick with cool as a cucumber. It helps me sleep better at night. Especially now that I keep the clip under my pillow.

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