I pressed the garage door opener, and the sensor lights pinged two-sixty watts of light off the white walls. The hinges whined, and the door staggered open. I made a mental note to spray the hinges with WD-40, and hoped the noise had scattered the cat, but Calico hadn’t moved.When I rushed toward the Lexus in my bare feet, waving my arms like a football coach to the end zone, Calico leapt to the trunk and ran off toward the bushes. I set the alarm again and waited for the dome light to fade out, but after what seemed like an hour’s worth of minutes, it stayed lit.

“Dammit, Matt.” I looked up toward Emma’s window to see if by chance he was laughing at me. The window shade was at half-mast like an eyelid, and the blackened window glared down at me.

I unlocked the car, turned the interior light switch on-and-off, grabbed the rifle off the back seat, and stuffed it in the Red Rider sleeve. The interior light faded, leaving me in total darkness when I shut the door. A shiver ran across my shoulders even though it was near eighty degrees. A car across the street started up. I flinched. It coasted away down the hill. I ran on tiptoes to the end of the driveway with the rifle hitched up under my arm. The car coasted to the stop sign, turned on its lights, and sped off toward town. Probably one of the neighbor’s one-night-stands. But I still wondered if it was the car that I thought followed me.

The bushes behind me rustled, and I spun around, aiming the car remote at the bushes.

Calico was back, meowing at me and weaving back and forth across the driveway.

It stopped and looked into the open garage.

“Oh no you don’t.”

Calico snapped its tail at me and skittered in under my Jeep.

“Oh no you’re not!” I ran up the drive after the cat and stepped on a pebble I’d swear was the size of a golf ball. It flicked out from under my foot and my foot went out from under me.

The rifle flung from my hand, along with Matt’s car keys. Both hit the garage floor at the back of my Jeep and slid under the car. I fell to my hands and knees and my teeth slammed together. After several hammer-slamming-thumb cuss words and knee cradling moans, I crawled far enough under the Jeep to retrieve the keys and rifle.

The cat hissed at me, but didn’t move.

“Oh come on, cat, go, get out. I’m missing Dancing with the Stars.”

I didn’t mind cats. I liked cats, just not my neighbor’s cats. And didn’t figure they’d appreciate me locking their cat in my garage all night. I limped around to the driver’s side and lay down on the cement floor.

With the rifle stock in hand, I swept the barrel back and forth as if it were a broom.

“Go, go on, get out, cat!” I crawled further under the Jeep.

Calico cowered up against my right front tire. He hunched low, his ears swiveled sideways like a swing-wing fighter and his tail swished in wide arcs. Shit, he was ready to attack. He hissed and raked his front paws at the rifle sleeve like a boxer delivering a one-two punch. His right paw caught hold and he tugged. “No, no, kitty. Let go.” He pulled back, flipped over sideways and inside out, I’d swear, before his claw released. I yanked the rifle back before he could attack again. And when I did, a click and a whoosh vibrated my hand. A bang like a rock bouncing across a cobblestone road echoed through the garage.

“Shit!” I screamed, and jerked my head back, but not in time to miss the rifle’s recoil. The butt end slammed into my brow, and my head bounced against the undercarriage. My heart lobbed into my throat, and the gunshot rang in my ears.

My vision blurred, my nose stung, and my right front tire hissed stale air in my face from the huge grin in the rubber. But Calico had screamed his way out of the garage unscarred. I lay there dazed and stared at my flat tire. All I could think about was the hole in Matt’s Red Ryder sleeve. At least until a warm tickle ran down my nose to my lips and I tasted blood. Shit, I shot myself.

I began to wiggle my way out from the Jeep just as a pair of feet entered the garage. I froze.

Whoever was attached to the bare feet said nothing and stood still with his toes curled against the cement. Another click jolted me, and I was doused into darkness when the garage sensor light clicked off.

“Where are you?” a man’s voice yelled.

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