“Now,” she whispers. I slip out of bed and press down on the mattress with one hand, not allowing the bed to move. She slides over slowly, dancer be, every more she makes, no matter how small or how slow, erotic. I let me hand up as her foot hits the floor and the transfer of mass is seamless. Bert lifts his head and we both freeze. Her finger touches my lip and I relax. Count breaths, Mike, she has said this many times before. I count my breaths, backwards from one hundred, and I feel her cheat in a little, so her leg rests against mine. Moonlight floods into the room and we can see Bert lay his head down again. Sam sleeps soundly, and the Puppy Lucas is dead to the world.
Two finger taps and I move forward and I feel her body touching mine. We’re fused at the shadow, as dark as night ourselves. The blanket thrown over the window creates a window itself, and I slide towards the rifle. Rifle to her, scattergun for me, I take point, and we move towards the door. It is a dance, it’s more than that, it’s a walk of survival. My left foot moves forward and so does hers. My right foot moves and she moves with me, a fluid motion practiced with tequila and the buzz of sex.
“Get it right!” she hisses at me. The lights are on, and I‘ve pushed against her with my buttocks, and she’s not laughing now. “We do this right or we don’t do it at all.” She pushes her hair back and I realize her patience is wearing down. “Don’t drink if’n it’s gonna kill you Mike.” She swears under her breath and walks over to the bottle. “You are either ready to fight or you get ready to die.”
“Get it right!” back to back we slowly walk from one room to the other. Bare feet silent we are able to move from the bedroom to the living room without a break, and back again, too.
“Again!” she demands, and we do it again. And again. And again.
We move like this for an hour, and she tells me there’s a blind spot to the left of the bedroom door, out on the porch, so I better pile some stuff up out there so it will fall and make noise if someone tries to hide there. The blanket on the window kills out silhouette coming out of the bedroom, and the fireplace is a rock to hide behind.
“Go!” we cross the living room floor trapped between the panes of the four wide front window and the four in the back. One, two, three, four paces and we swing around changing directions, changing points of view, confusing anyone looking and then I’m back in front again, five six seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, paces and we swing around again so I’m facing out towards the wide space of the living room with the shotgun, and the rifle covered the backdoor.
“Some woman ought to teach you dancing!” she sighs. “Again!”
“Go!” we cross the living room floor trapped between the panes of the four wide front window and the four in the back. One, two, three, four paces and we swing around changing directions, changing points of view, confusing anyone looking and then I’m back in front again, five six seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, paces and we swing around again so I’m facing out towards the wide space of the living room with the shotgun, and the rifle covered the backdoor. All this, again and again, without waking any of the dogs.
Eleven was the sticking point for a while. We switch postions, but because eleven is where the double doors to the porch and the kitchen island create a squeeze point we have to raise both weapons at the same time or get tossed off balance. She’s ninety pounds soaking wet and the rifle is nearly a third of her mass. It throws her off balance to swing quickly like that so I have to both move forward yet keep enough extra pressure on her rear to help.
“Count shadows, Mike” she whispers to me during a break. My quads are killing me. We’re walking, slipping really, across the floor at a crouch, arms up, slowly, but with quick movements, catlike, and my muscles are screaming. “Don’t worry about a gun being out there because if there is you’ll know it sooner. Worry bout eyes. Worry about who knows what you’re doing, and count shadows. Name’em. Ennie meanie minie moe. Remember the shadows around you nad if’n there’s one not suppose to be there, or one gets fat, you know eyes are there, and you know they see you. What we’re doing can’t be seen in shadow, and those eyes are there they won’t know what they saw. Eyes lie and people know it, in dark, they never tell the truth, and people know it. They see us dancing and they’ll not believe it. They come in thinking we’re all bedded down and we’re stand aside them, nightmares happen to them and we rain shit on them.”
Finally we can do it backwards and forwards, and far more quickly than I thought possible. Two shadows within the shadows, less than three or four seconds, and suddenly, anyone outside is wondering if they saw something, didn’t see anything and not a sound from the dogs yet.
“We get this down I’ll teach you a few things about covering those windows so it don’t look like that’s what you’re trying to do.” She’s happy. She reaches up and puts a hand on my neck. You need to work on your breathing, she once told me, you get excited and let you body wear out too fast. She checking my pulse.
“You teach a mean game for a woman who got killed in an ambush.” I said it before I realized I had thought it.
The sound of the rifle being fired indoors would have been enough to deafen me, it has before, but this was horrific. “She shot me.” I thought as I hit the floor. The dogs exploded into sound, but I couldn’t hear them, except as distance noises. It felt like she shot me in the left ear. The pain was incredible, unendurable, maddening, and I could only half hear myself scream.
“Round that close to the ear teaches a man a few things.” She whispered as she sunk her nails into my head to keep me still. “Don’t you ever speak of those things you nothing about! Hear? She kicked me, hard, in the mouth, and walked away.
I woke up on the living room floor at two. I still have a ringing in my left ear. My lip is slightly cut where I think I bit it, and I’ve been spitting out blood all day.