The 911 operator noted the address flashing on the monitor. It was 2:10 a.m.. “What is your emergency?”
“Send help,” quavered an elderly male voice. “A lunatic is blazing away across the street with a small caliber – maybe a .22. She shot my porch light out.”
“You said shots were fired? Are they…”
“Get an officer out here. I don’t know what she is doing. I’m behind my sofa as far away as I can get with this phone.”
“I understand sir; a patrolman is on the way. Did you say the shooter is a woman?”
“It’s my neighbor Eloise, I think. I was watching a movie and heard a pop outside. When I opened the door I saw someone in a pink nightie running across her front yard – could have been Eloise.”
“You said she was running?”
“Yes, and firing a pistol. She shot out my porch light. When’s that officer getting here?”
“Stay on the line, sir. They should be arriving. They will want to talk to you when the area is secured.”
Across the street Sgt. Tremble slid his patrol car to a stop and leaped out, pistol drawn. Eloise Harbinger was frozen in the patrol car’s headlights, wearing a pink robe cinched at the waist by a tooled leather belt with a pistol scabbard. She was bending over, looking under a red-tip photinia. A long barreled revolver was clutched in her right hand.
“Drop that pistol. Put your hands over your head.”
The pink robe flared as Eloise spun around. Shading her eyes with her hand, an enormous turquoise ring reflected rainbow colors. “Is that you Alan? Come help me get this rascal.”
The patrolman recognized his mother’s best friend. “Put the pistol down, Eloise. What are you doing out here in the middle of the night?”
Eloise eased the hammer down with her thumb and holstered the pistol. She pointed to her left. Two dead armadillos lay nose to nose on the grass. “Those suckers won’t be rooting up my lawn anymore. There’s one more with a ticket to armadillo heaven if she pokes her nose out.”
“It’s against the city ordinance to shoot in town Eloise.” He secured his pistol in its sheath.
“Alan, I’ve known you since you showed up in the church nursery wearing diapers. Listen to me. It’s not against the law to protect my property against armed intruders.”
“Are you saying those ‘dillos were armed?”
“Thump their shell, Alan. They carry armor. I’m not breaking any law.”
Eloise was a good woman. Eccentric maybe, but his folks thought the sun rose and set by her. They wouldn’t take kindly to his giving her a ticket.
“Your neighbor called in a complaint. He said you shot at him and hit his porch light.”
“Bull feathers. He danced outside with a broom and I thought he was going to help me. When I waved my pistol, he dove back inside like he’d stepped barefoot in nasty. The broom hit the light, I think. I didn’t shoot at him.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“You betcha. I hit what I shoot at. Annie Oakley never shot any better.”
Alan chuckled. “You plugged these two under their ears. That’s pretty good shooting. They weren’t standing still, were they?”
“Nope.” Eloise looked down, noticing she was missing a pink-bunny house shoe. “Help me find my slipper Alan and I’ll fix us some Columbian dark coffee. Want some?”
“I better not. Promise me you won’t do this again Eloise.”
“Okay, Mr. Officer. I’ll call you the next time. You can shoot them.”
“I can’t do that Eloise. Get a trap.” Alan looked across the street and saw someone peeking through the window blinds. “I need to talk to your neighbor. Can I tell him you will bake him a cake for disturbing his peace?”
“You can tell that peeping Tom anything you want. But he knows better than to think I’d do it. Why don’t you take him those armadillos? They would make a good peace offering.”
“Behave Eloise. Good neighbors are worth cultivating. If you will bake a cake I’ll forget about the citation. Do we have a deal?”
Looking at the Big Dipper, chewing a pink fingernail, Eloise weighed her options. “One prune cake coming up, Officer.”
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