NIGHTCAP

“Would you care for some more wine, dear, or would you rather have some of that cognac for a nightcap?” asked George.

“I think I’m ready for a glass of cognac --- thanks, honey,” replied Helen.

George then carefully washed the two wine glasses in the kitchen sink, dried them and returned them to their proper place in the kitchen cabinet. He then went to the “booze cabinet” and extracted a bottle of Remy Martin VSOP. He removed two brandy glasses from a different cabinet and filled them one-quarter full. Lastly he placed the glasses in front of his place at the kitchen table and in front of Helen’s place and resumed his seat. George and Helen had been married for fifty-five years now and both enjoyed the adventure of life together immensely. George was now 78 and Helen was a year younger.

For a while, neither spoke. Instead, they listened to the Glenn Miller music emanating from the den as they sipped their Remy. Yes, life had been good. They had raised four children, put them through college and saw each one marry. Sure, one of the kids had got divorced, but he was now happily remarried --- so they certainly had beaten the odds. They had enjoyed their careers and saved enough money to be able to retire at age 62. The weekday night ritual of drinks at the kitchen table had been going on almost from the beginning of the marriage. It was a chance to relax after a long day --- and a chance to talk --- about anything. George and Helen would talk about the kids, talk about their friends, talk about restaurants, and discuss current events or anything else that came to mind. On weekends they would go out to dinner. But the weeknights would invariably find them at the kitchen table.

“I have to take the car to Jiffy Lube tomorrow --- do you want me to get you anything while I’m out?” asked George.

“I’ll be out at the hairdresser’s, myself, George”, replied Helen, “So if I need anything else I’ll pick it up myself --- but thanks for offering.”

“Oh --- I thought your hair appointment was on Tuesday.”

“No, dear --- it’s tomorrow.”

“Okay --- I guess I just forgot”.

Just then, the doorbell rang. “Who the hell could that be at ten o’clock at night?” asked George, as he arose from his kitchen chair. George then walked down the short center hall and looked through the peephole of the front door. He saw a young woman standing on the porch. He unlocked the door, opened it and asked the young women, “Can I help you?”

“I’m sorry to bother you, Mister --- but my car ran out of gas and I wonder if I could just use your phone to make a quick call to my sister so she can pick me up?”

“Well I guess that would be alright --- c’mon in --- the phone’s in the den.

The young woman followed George down the center hall and into the kitchen. “Helen, this young lady needs to use our phone because her car ran out of glass”. “Well show her where the phone is, dear”. Helen looked at the woman who appeared to be about 25 or so and was wearing jeans and a leather jacket. Her dark hair was not all that neatly combed. “Right this way, young lady”, George said as he showed her into the den.

Like every person in the world, George made mistakes. But tonight he made a big one. After he had let this girl into the house he had forgotten to re-lock the front door.

Helen saw him first as he approached the kitchen waving what appeared to be a large knife. Helen screamed! George returned to the kitchen and appeared awestruck. “Both of you just shut the hell up!” bellowed the intruder. He was a big man --- at least 6 feet 4 and well built. He had a swarthy complexion and a receding hairline. He also wore jeans and a black leather jacket. The knife he held looked like a heavy carving knife.

“You! Old Man! Lay down on the goddamn floor on your stomach and put your hands behind your back! Now!”

Harry got down on the floor as instructed, but asked, “What do you guys want?”

“Well I’m sure not here to rape some ‘ole lady! What the hell do you think we want? We’re here for cash and jewelry! You folks cooperate with us and nobody’ll get hurt!”

The big man snapped plastic handcuffs on George, removed the wallet from George’s back pocket and then stood up. He opened the wallet and removed the bills. There was about $60 there. “Watch this old-timer while I take his old lady upstairs.” The big guy said to the young woman.

The guy then gestured to Helen to stand up. Helen had not said a word since her initial scream. “What do you want me to do?” she now asked. “I want you to take me upstairs and show me where your purse and your jewelry are. All your jewelry! And don’t fuck around with me because with a Lincoln and a Caddy sitting in front of your house I know you folks have got plenty of good stuff!”

With that, Helen led the burly intruder upstairs. George continued to lie on the carpeted kitchen floor. He could probably get to his feet --- but what the hell could he do then? Maybe he could kick the girl or something --- but she would just call the big guy down --- and God knows what the hell he’d do! So George did nothing.

Upstairs in the Master bedroom, the big guy was going through the wallet he had just removed from Helen’s purse. It contained only about $25. The knife was still in his right hand. “Okay --- now the jewelry! The good stuff! Diamonds --- gold --- silver, you know what the fuck I want, lady!”

“Well it’s kind of hidden around in different places.”

“Okay, then --- we’ll just have ourselves a fuckin’ treasure hunt! Let’s get started, lady!”

Helen went to a small jewelry box on her dressing table and opened it. It contained some gold necklaces, some gold and silver earrings and a lot of costume stuff. She quickly picked out the expensive items and handed them to this intruder. He reached for them with his left hand and put them in his jacket pocket. Next, Helen opened a dresser drawer and took out another larger jewelry box that looked like it came from India or somewhere. This box was locked --- but Helen reached back into the drawer and retrieved the key for it. Setting the box on the dressing table, Helen unlocked it and removed several diamond necklaces and bracelets, several emerald necklaces and bracelets and several strings of genuine pearls. She handed them all to this big guy who placed them in his other jacket pocket.

“Okay --- now your hands!”

“What?”

“Your hands, lady! Gimme those rings on your hands!”

Helen then removed her four rings --- one by way --- including her diamond wedding ring --- and handed these over to the big guy, as well.

“Okay, lady! Where’s the rest of the stuff? I know you got more shit than this!”

“Well, there’s only the things that I hide in the closet and then you have it all.”

“Okay, lady --- go get ‘em!”

Helen walked to the walk-in closet, flipped on the light, opened the door and walked in. She then crouched down at the far end of the closet and started pulling out a box. As he waited for her, the big guy looked around this nicely furnished master bedroom to see if there were any other items that he might help himself to this night. There was a 32-inch TV set --- but he was looking for small stuff tonight. There were pictures of kids on the dressers --- magazines on a nightstand --- the usual bedroom stuff --- but nothing worth taking. Maybe he’d grab those silver candlesticks on the dining room table on their way out. Or maybe he’d check out the den to see if they had ----.

“Bam!!! Bam!!! Bam!!! The first bullet went through his right shoulder. Helen was a little rusty perhaps. But the force of the bullet spun him part way around facing the walk-in closet. He couldn’t believe what he saw in that fleeting moment. There was this old lady --- who now looked somewhat younger and a whole lot fiercer --- crouched in a classic firing position. The second bullet had gone through his chest close to his heart. But the final bullet and gone right through his heart and he was technically dead before he even hit the floor. “Take that, you son of a bitch”, Helen growled to no one.

Hearing the shots and knowing that her boyfriend did not have a gun, the young women downstairs raced to the front door, opened it and fled into the night. Helen went down the stairs, told George that the intruder was dead and called 911. She then went to the garage, got the heavy-duty wire cutters and cut the chain between the two cuffs and helped Harry to his feet. The police arrived within three minutes. Three patrol cars, no less. It took over two hours for the police to question George and Helen, take photos of the master bedroom and the body and help the coroner to remove the body. It was after 1 am when George and Helen were finally alone again. While the police had been there, a call came in that the young women had been captured two miles away.

Helen had been a police officer, of course, and now George was more than glad that she had been one. But just the same, it sure was good that the big guy wasn’t armed with a gun. “No more night visitors, George --- we’re just getting too old for this shit”. “You’re right, honey --- and I’m sorry as hell I didn’t lock that door!” “Look --- we’ll just sleep in the guest room tonight --- and we’ll clean up our bedroom tomorrow, okay?”

“Whatever you say, dear.”

“I’ll take that nightcap now”, suggested Helen. “I think we need it”

George again poured Remy into the two glasses on the table and they resumed their seats. George had been a Superior Court Judge in the Criminal Division and he knew the law. No charges would be brought against Helen. He then noticed the Glenn Miller CD was still playing.

“What time is your hair appointment tomorrow?”

“Not ‘till 2 in the afternoon.”

“Good.”

George and Helen sipped their cognacs as the Glenn Miller Orchestra played “In the Mood”.





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