They knew nothing about each other, save that death stalked them both!
|"Well, it's not your usual date, I'll grant you that," Laura said as she ducked another bullet. It tore a chunk from the doorframe near where her left eyebrow had been. Mike, who squatted on the other side of the doorway with a drawn pistol, only grunted.
The shooter had staked out a good spot for the ambush. The suburban street was dotted with junipers and boxwoods, and three cars were parked on the street, giving the gunman a choice of cover to hide behind. He'd been too impatient, though, and had opened fire while Mike and Laura were still standing in her doorway. He was also a careless marksman.
Mike peered around the edge of the open door. "I don't suppose you've got any bullets," he muttered to Laura.
He swung on her in surprise. "You serious?"
"I'm carrying lipstick, an extra pair of nylons, and a coin purse," she retorted. "Do you think I'm serious?"
"My friend said I'd really like you," Mike replied. "But right now I'd like you better if you told me there was some artillery in the house. I've only got the six I chambered before I came to pick you up!"
"Six?" Laura exclaimed. "If you were going to pack heat, why'd you bring only six?"
"Because I wasn't planning on fighting you off!"
Laura gave him a look, but she smiled behind it. She'd swallowed a low, tigerish growl when she opened her door to find that her blind date was a broad-shouldered heap of muscle with a tapering waist. From the way he'd smiled back from behind the pink-and-red bouquet he'd presented her, she guessed that he liked her looks, too.
Another shot rang out, this one tearing a groove in the door. It left Mike seeing red.
"Get back in the house and call the cops," he growled at her. "I'm sure someone has called by now, but let's light a fire under 'em."
Laura did as he said, crawling from the entryway to the living room, where she pulled the telephone off a side table and dialed the local precinct. After replacing the receiver, though, she ducked into the kitchen, pulled a knife from the carving block, then slipped off her pumps and slid out the back door.
The gate from her tiny back yard opened into a hedge-lined alley. Quit gritting your teeth, she told herself as loose stones bit the soles of her feet as she ran. You'll crack your makeup.
Two more shots rang out as she circled around the side of a bungalow two houses down. From around the corner she looked back toward her house. The street was clear, and none of her neighbors had been stupid enough to come out onto their porches to gawp. But a dark hump briefly showed behind a green Buick on the other side of the street, then ducked back down.
Please be one of his, please be one of his, she silently prayed as she scampered to the other side of the street and dove behind the rear bumper of a Studebaker. Mike was plainly a policeman of some kind, which meant it was going to be hard enough explaining herself to him without having to introduce him to the kind of person she regularly met in her line of work.
The man behind the Buick was facing the other way as she crept up behind. He was dressed in a tan suit and white saddle shoes, and he held a gun up next to his ear. He was lowering it to aim at her house as she ran up. Something about him seemed familiar, but it wasn't until she had the knife at the back of his neck that she recognized him.
"Geoffrey Bascomb, you two-bit skunk!" Laura growled. He jumped, threw his hands in the air, and dropped the gun without even turning around. "For the love of—! I'm on a date!"
"I know!" Bascomb squeaked. The back of his pencil-thin neck turned a bright red. "Why do you think I'm trying to shoot him?"
"And I told you I never wanted to see you again! I can't believe I'm trying to save you from having your fool head blown off—"
Another shot rang out, and the bullet tore away the Buick's passenger-side mirror. It took the dumbfounded Laura three full seconds to realize the shot couldn't have come from Mike.
It was Bascomb who pulled her down before another bullet whizzed past. "How many jealous ex-boyfriends have you got?" he hollered as he covered her with his body.
Before she could answer, a woman's voice called out from down the street.
"Mike! Mike! I got her, Mike! You can be mine again! I told you I'd take you back! And now she won't be able to get in the way!" The voice dissolved into hysterical laughter.
* * *
"So how many jealous ex-boyfriends do you have?" Mike asked. They'd wasted three hours talking to the police, but now he and Laura were finally relaxing with cocktails at the restaurant. His tone was gruff, but there was a twinkle in his eye.
"Enough to keep you busy if you get out of hand," Laura replied with a cool grin.
"And are they all Treasury agents like yourself?"
"Geoffrey's a reformed counterfeiter. And how many crazy ex-girlfriends do you have?"
"Only three, now that Mimi's in custody."
"And are they all former secretaries of yours as well?"
Mike regarded her with a cocked head, then laughed.
"Quit the Treasury and come into partnership with me," the private eye said. "I'll keep the counterfeit boyfriends off of you, and you can keep the crazy secretaries off of me!"
Winner: Writer's Cramp, 10-12-20
Prompt: Use the phrases "not your usual date"; "seeing red"; "gritting your teeth".