“That was a good pizza,” said Linda, wiping a bit of sauce from her lip. “Do you feel like desert?”
I shook my head. “Nope. Let’s hit the store, pick up some Lotto tickets and go home.”
“Okay”, she said, “but I have to use the restroom. I’ll meet you out front.”
I signed the check and walked out the front door of the UNO Grill in Viera, Florida. As I stood in the warm early afternoon sunshine, I noticed a crappy looking car parked at the far west end of the lot. It seemed like a funny place to park. There were plenty of closer spaces. I thought it might be an employee’s car, but there were no other cars near it. Then I saw the two guys in the front seat. They were looking my way. The passenger pointed at me. The driver started the car and a puff of brown smoke came out of the tailpipe. My alert level rose a notch or two.
A minute later, Linda came out and we started toward our car. “Keep an eye on those guys in the Buick over there,” I said. “They seemed to react when they saw me.”
Linda nodded and looked around as we kept walking.
I had the car remote in my left hand. The Buick started to move in our direction as I hit the unlock button. I opened the passenger door and stepped away from the car. Linda and I both turned as the Buick pulled up behind our car.
The passenger door popped open and a short, skinny guy in a basketball jersey and jeans jumped out with a large folding knife in his hand. “Gimme your... ,” he yelled. That was as far as he got.
Linda was a quarter second quicker on the draw than I was, a fact that was totally lost on the mugger. He was hit with four high-velocity 9mm hollowpoints in the upper chest, took a stumbling step to the right and went down hard, smacking his face into the blacktop. He kicked a few times and lay still.
The young driver froze, looking at us with an astonished expression that would have been funny under other circumstances. Then his head snapped around and he floored the gas, made a sharp right and nearly sideswiped a minivan as he slid into the street, heading west. I got the license number.
Linda and I checked for other attackers and, seeing no one in the parking lot at all, we holstered our guns. I pulled out my cell phone and punched 911.
“911, what is your emergency?” I was taking deep breaths and remembered to speak slowly and keep my voice low.
“I need to report a shooting,” I said.
“Please hold.” I heard a beep or two and another female voice came on.
“Sheriff’s Department dispatch, what is your emergency?”
“I need to report a shooting,” I said again.
“What is your location?” she asked.
“I’m in the parking lot of the Uno Grill on North Wickham, just east of the Interstate.” I could hear rapid typing in the background.
“Is anyone injured?”
“Oh, yeah. I’m pretty sure the mugger’s dead.” More typing.
“I have deputies and paramedics on the way. Please stay on the line and wait where you are.”
“Roger, dispatch, please inform responding officers that the intended victims are a couple in their mid 60s. I’m a white male, 5’10”, 160 lbs with gray hair, wearing a blue Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts.” I paused to let her typing catch up with my monologue. “My wife is a white female, 5’3”, 100 lbs with dark hair, wearing a red top and black shorts.”
It’s always a good idea to make sure the cops can identify the good guys when they get to the scene.
“Also, the mugger’s partner left in a mid-90s maroon Buick four-door.” I gave her the plate number. “He was last seen turning onto I-95 North.”
“Thank you, sir; I’ve passed that information along.”
We could hear sirens and a few seconds later emergency vehicles arrived. Fire station 47 was less than a half-mile away. Two paramedics jumped out. One trotted over to us and the other opened a panel in the side of the truck and pulled out a large case. The first guy had the look of a serious iron-pumper. “Are you two OK?” I put my arm around Linda. “We’re fine. Can’t say the same for him.”
The mugger’s shirt had large red stains front and back. I hoped the back windows had been rolled up on the Buick. There was nothing except 200 yards of empty sidewalk in the direction we were shooting. I doubted any of our bullets that made it through the mugger would have retained enough velocity to break two car windows and do any damage, but we certainly didn’t want anyone hurt by stray bullets.
More sirens, getting louder. I got out my wallet and extracted my driver’s license, my retired-military ID and my concealed weapon permit. Linda opened her purse and got her IDs. Our hands were shaking. Between the two of us, we were packing enough adrenaline to launch a Space Shuttle.
The first paramedic checked for a pulse. He didn’t find one. They were going through their routine when the first deputy rolled up. When he got out of his car, Linda and I breathed sighs of relief.
“Hey, Tommy,” I said.
“Ron, Linda? What the hell happened?”
“Attempted armed robbery. This guy and his partner, the driver, tried to take us.” I gestured at the dead man. “He pulled a knife and threatened us. Fearing for our lives, we defended ourselves.”
“Okay, good. You folks just keep telling that story and you won’t have any trouble.” Tommy looked at the dead man and the corners of him mouth twitched. He laughed and shook his head. “Man, of all the couples in this county to pick for a mugging, he had to go after you two.” Tommy laughed again. “Sorry, I shouldn’t react this way, but, talk about a critical failure of the victim-selection process!” I handed him our IDs. He shuffled through them and smiled.