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Home Invasion

by Martin Green

     Bill Parker was in his living room, sitting in his favorite reclining chair.   It had been a long hard day at the office. His project was behind schedule and the big boss wanted to see him first thing in the morning. He sat back, put his feet up on the footrest and picked up the morning’s newspaper. Before he had a chance to read about what new and horrible things were happening in the world, his big orange cat, Rascalman, jumped up and settled on his chest, where he like to sit. Parker looked at the front page---state budget impasse, mortgage foreclosures, storm coming in, convict escaped---the usual, while cautiously stroking Rascalman. You had to be careful because, if the cat got tired of being stroked, he’d been known to bite and his teeth were needle sharp.

     Parker could hear his wife Amy preparing dinner in the kitchen. After eating, they’d watch some television, then he wanted to get to bed early so he’d be fresh for the next day. Just another typical evening in the Sacramento suburbs, he thought. He heard the sound of glass breaking from the patio and almost instantly, it seemed like an apparition, a large man holding a gun was in the living room. For a moment, Parker sat frozen,  He couldn’t believe what was happening. Then he remembered the morning headline: escaped convict. He sprang out of his chair while Rascalman jumped to the floor.   The large man pointed his gun at Parker. 

Amy came in from the kitchen, saying, “I thought I heard a noise …’, then stopped in the doorway, open-mouthed.  

The large man said, “Take it easy. Just do what I say and no one will get hurt.”

     The three of them were in the kitchen. The large man, he’d told them to call him Darrell, was eating. His gun was in easy reach. He’d told them he hadn’t eaten all day and was starving. He’d repeated that he didn’t want to hurt anybody. He was going to wait until after dark, then he was going to take Parker’s car and drive out of their lives. He’d already taken the car keys.   All he wanted to do was get away.

     Parker and Amy each had a plate of food in front of them, the pasta that Amy had been cooking before Darrell had broken in. Darrell urged them to eat but neither had any appetite. Parker could still hardly believe this was happening. He was grateful that their daughter was away at college. He tried to size up the convict. Darrell was large and muscled, probably, thought Parker, the result of weight-lifting in the prison yard. He’d seen enough pictures of that on TV. There was no way he could take him on physically.   Besides, Darrell had the gun.

     Darrell asked Parker what he did and where he worked. “Do you like your job?”

     “It’s not bad. It’s a living.”

     “Yeah. Nice house you have here.  Must take a good salary to keep it up.   Do you have any children?”

     “One, a daughter,” said Amy. “She’s away at college.”

     “Uh, huh. Must take a nice chunk of money to pay for that. Boy, the way college has gotten so expensive, it’s a crime.”

     Parker thought this was a little funny, but he didn’t smile. From the way Darrell talked he didn’t seem stupid. “Why did you break out?”

     “I wasn’t planning to, it just happened. I had the chance so I took it.”

     “You know if you turned yourself in maybe it wouldn’t go so hard on you. If they catch you anything might happen.”

     Darrell laughed. “I’m long past that,” he said.

     Parker had an analytical mind. He was trying to think of anything he could do in this situation. He needed a weapon. His golf clubs were in the hall. Amy had chided him for not putting them away. If he could somehow get to them. But Darrell had told them he didn’t intend to hurt them. Maybe he should just wait.

     After he finished eating, Darrell herded them back in the living room. He turned on the TV news. There was nothing about a prison break, just the usual stuff about the State budget deficit at home and terrorists overseas.

     Darrell said, “I need some money.”

     “All right,” said Parker. He took out his wallet and gave Darrell all the cash he had, $36.

     Darrell looked disappointed. Somehow he didn’t seem as friendly as he had in the kitchen. “This all you have? You wouldn’t be holding out on me, would you?” He picked up the gun and pointed it at Parker.

     Parker’s heart skipped a beat. “That’s all I have. I swear. If I had any more I’d give it to you.”

     Darrell grunted. He stood up and looked out the window. It was getting dark. He looked at Amy. “Your wife is a nice-looking woman,” he said to Parker. “You know I haven’t had a woman since I was in.”

     Parker’s throat went dry. How could he get to those damned golf clubs?

     “You know what,” said Darrell, “I think it’s time I had some fun. You have any duct tape around?”

     “Why?” asked Parker, although he thought he knew.

     “I’m going to tape you up, that’s why, then your wife and I are going up to the bedroom.”

     No, thought Parker. This can’t happen. “You’re just making things worse for yourself. Please, don’t do it.”

     Any trace of pleasantness had left Darrell’s face. “I could just shoot you,” he said.

     “The duct tape’s in the garage.”

     “All right, go get it. If you’re not back in two minutes I’ll shoot your wife.”

     Parker raced into the hall, grabbed a golf club and charged back into the kitchen. Darrell moved quickly, deflected the club with his arm, and aimed his gun. There was a screeching sound, Darrell yelled and dropped the gun.   Rascalman had sprung at him and had sunk his teeth into Darell’s cheek.   Parker picked up the gun and hit Darrell on the back of his head with all the force he could. The convict sank to the floor.

     “Quick, call 911,” Parker told Amy. She already had the phone and was dialing.

     It was after midnight by the time the sheriff deputies left with their prisoner. Parker and Amy had gone over what had happened it seemed countless times. Every so often Parker felt as if they’d be arrested, too. And they’d still have to go to the sheriff’s office to give their statements. Darrel would get his revenge with all the time they’d have to spend in the aftermath of his break-in.

     “Well, I’m glad that’s over,” said Amy.

     “Yes.   I still can’t believe it happened.”

     “You were a hero.”

     “The hero was Rascalman.”

     “I guess we’ll have to let him stay in the bedroom tonight."

     Rascalman was sitting on top of their bed, looking smug. Putting Rascalman out was a nightly struggle. They didn’t really want him to stay in their bedroom as they were afraid he’d wake them during the night.  

     “I suppose so. If he meows I’ll put him out.”

     “Make sure he doesn’t bite you.”

     Once in bed, Parker thought, What a night. He was all wired up and wondered if he’d be able to sleep. One thing was for sure, he wasn’t at all worried about seeing the big boss the next morning.

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