My girlfriend and I stumbled back to my house about midnight, a little bit drunk, from a neighbor’s party in Cocoa Beach. We staggered upstairs, brushed our teeth and hit the sack right away.
The next thing I knew, the clock on my nightstand said 2:53AM. Vicki was sound asleep beside me. And I had to pee.
Coming back from the bathroom, I noticed a light shining up from ground level outside the rear bedroom window. I’d installed motion sensor lights above all the exterior doors and windows and they were sensitive enough to turn on whenever a raccoon or armadillo wandered by.
Security is a concern for me. Because my family is fairly wealthy, we’re targets for robbers and burglars and kidnappers. Four years ago, my sister was snatched off the street in Boca Raton by two men who dragged her into a van driven by a third attacker. Unfortunately for them, she was armed and started shooting. When the smoke cleared, only she and the driver were left alive. He was doing life without parole and my sister had permanent hearing damage. Lesson learned. I wasn’t about to make it easy for anyone who came after me.
My high-priced alarm system had become erratic lately, disarming itself without warning or refusing to arm at all. The system was shut down until a service tech could look it over. In the meantime, I was on my own. The security light had probably been activated by some passing critter, but it wouldn’t hurt to be sure.
I opened a drawer in the nightstand next to my bed and picked up my home defense weapon. After much thought and experimentation, I’d settled on a Springfield Armory XD .45 pistol. A suppressor was screwed onto the 4” barrel and a powerful flashlight was mounted to the rail in front of the trigger guard. It certainly wasn’t a small package, but it was easy to handle indoors. The gun held fourteen rounds of hollow point ammo, thirteen in the magazine plus one more in the chamber. As an added bonus, it wouldn’t blow out my eardrums if I had to use it. In the movies and on TV, people shoot pistols and rifles indoors all the time and never mention the noise. Thanks to my sister, I knew better.
I pulled on a pair of cargo shorts, shoved a spare magazine into a back pocket and went downstairs to check things out. When I looked into the bathroom at the rear of the house, I could see light through the frosted window in the pool door leading to the patio. The security light was on. Shapes were moving outside the door and it sure as hell wasn’t a pack of raccoons. I left the inside lights off and crossed the family room into the kitchen.
Next to the phone above the kitchen counter was a Bluetooth headset. I slipped it on and hit the speed dial button for 9-1-1.
“9-1-1, what is your emergency?”
“Home invasion in progress at this address.” I knew my address was showing on her Caller ID screen and didn’t waste time repeating it.
“Are they in the house?”
“Not yet. They’re breaking in through the pool door in the back.”
As I knelt behind the door frame, I could hear rapid typing.
“I have deputies on the way,” she said.
“Please inform the deputies that the homeowner is armed. There’s a woman upstairs in the back bedroom.” Oops, I thought, I’d better warn Vicky. “Stand by, please.”
I stood up, hit the Bluetooth “hold” button and punched the button for the master bedroom on the intercom panel next to the phone.
“Vicky, wake up! Vicky, get to the intercom! Hurry up, damn it! Vicky!”
A sleepy feminine voice came out of the speaker. “Danny, where are you? Shit, I was asleep!”
“Well, you’d better wake up fast. Somebody’s breaking in through the pool door. Cops are on the way. I want you to lock the bedroom door, go into the bathroom, lock that door and call me on the intercom.”
Her only answer was a faint click as she released the button.
The door leading from the downstairs bathroom to the family room opened into the bathroom, away from me, and it wasn’t reinforced. The hinges were inside the bathroom and the door locked from the inside. It was useless for security, but it still might do me some good. While I was waiting for Vicky, I hurried across the family room and closed the bathroom door. Back in the kitchen, I selected a high intensity battery powered floodlight from the stash of hurricane supplies I kept in the walk-in pantry. I set it on an end table in the family room, aimed it at the bathroom door and switched it on.
A few seconds later Vicky called.
“Okay, I’m in the bathroom. Both doors are locked. I brought my cell phone.”
Smart girl. I should have thought of the phone myself.
“Great. Now get in the tub and stay there until I come for you. If a cop tries to get you to come out, make him slide his ID under the door.”
“Yeah, I’ll do that. Holy shit Danny, I’m scared! Don’t you get hurt, you bastard!”
“I’ll be fine. The cops will be here any time now.”
I released the intercom button, thinking, when seconds count, the cops are only minutes away.
I hit the Bluetooth button. “I’m back. My girlfriend is locked in the master bathroom. If one of your people could call her on her cell, that would be good.” I gave the dispatcher Vicky’s number.
“I’ll have somebody make the call,” she said.
There was a series of tortured metallic screeches as the invaders pried the steel pool door away from its frame. All the glass windows in my house had been replaced with “bulletproof” Level VIII polycarbonate, including the window in the pool door. The invaders couldn’t break the window and they couldn’t pry it out. The door was strong, but they were serious about getting in and they had the right tools.
“Deputies are three minutes out,” said the dispatcher reassuringly. I didn’t bother to answer. I had a strong feeling the cops would be too late.
My parents gave me my first gun, a .22 target rifle, when I was thirteen and from then on I was hooked. I’ve been involved in competitive shooting ever since. In college, I got into handguns, shooting mostly “action pistol” events. I enjoy shooting in matches where both speed and accuracy are required. I discovered that I got a kick out of laying it all on the line, shooting in front of a crowd. The pressure I felt while waiting for the invaders was familiar to me, but the stakes in this contest would be much higher than any I’d known.
My .45 was equipped with extra tall sights so I could see them over the suppressor. I lined up the sights on the bathroom door and concentrated on controlling my breathing.
With a final, loud screech, the pool door gave way. Seconds later, the bathroom door jerked open, revealing a bulky man wearing a ski mask and holding a combat shotgun. Another masked man was behind him to the right. The glare from the floodlight was blinding and the shotgun man hesitated, blinking. Time seemed to slow dramatically. I quickly interpreted the man’s bulky appearance as body armor and my focus sharpened as I raised my sights to the middle of his face.
I pulled the trigger straight back. The gun made a sound like you’d get by slapping an exercise mat with the flat of your hand. The sights danced up and slightly to the right as a nickel-plated cartridge case spun out of the ejection port. When the sights bounced back to where the man’s face had been, the face wasn’t there.
Invader #2 was standing sideways with his back against the open bathroom door, no doubt shocked by the shower of blood, brains and bone chips that had blasted out the back of his partner’s skull. He was holding a handgun and also had the look of a man wearing body armor, but body armor doesn’t cover the shoulder area, especially when the guy shooting at you has you in profile. The sights moved of their own volition to the center of his shoulder and the magic that operates triggers worked its spell. Once again, the gun made its slapping sound, the sights did their dance and returned to the target. This time the target was still there and the pistol fired immediately. Invader #2 dropped in a heap, kicking.
Silhouetted in the light coming through the pool door, Invader #3 stood frozen. He was holding something in both hands that might have been a weapon. The floodlight didn’t illuminate him directly, but I could see my sights just fine. I moved my sight picture to the top of his left thigh and fired. He screamed and fell backwards onto the tiled patio.
Off in the distance, I heard sirens. It occurred to me that I was still wearing the Bluetooth headset.
“You still there?” I asked.
“Yes sir. What’s happening?”
“I’ve got three down, two inside and one on the back patio.”
“I didn’t hear any shooting. What happened? I heard someone yell.”
“I’m using a suppressed weapon. The yell you heard was from the third guy. Tell the deputies he’s on the patio and may be armed. I don’t think the other two will be a problem.”
“Yes sir,” she said. “Hold please.”
The sirens were much closer. Suddenly, I heard the roar of an engine and the screech of tires from in front of my house. Was there a fourth guy? Oh well, not my problem. On the other hand, there might be a whole platoon of bad guys out there. Cursing myself for a dumbshit, I dug out my spare magazine are reloaded. The first magazine still held 9 rounds and I dropped it into my pocket. Now I had 14 rounds available again and 9 more for backup.
Down the street, tires screeched again. A few seconds later, I heard two “pops” from a handgun followed by a flurry of much louder “bangs” from rifles. So there was another guy or two. There might be more. I held my position.
Sirens wailed as patrol cars wheeled into my driveway. Footfalls pounded by on both sides of the house.
“Drop your weapon!! Show me your hands!!”
Through the doorway, I watched as a deputy grabbed something away from Invader #3 and threw it across the pool deck. Other cops piled onto the wounded man. The shouting and thrashing continued for several seconds, handcuffs flashed and then things calmed down. A deputy stuck his head into the bathroom and immediately backed out, talking into his handset.
“Looks like things are under control,” I said into the Bluetooth. “Thanks for your help.”
“Glad to be of assistance,” she said brightly. “I hope no one was hurt.”
I didn’t know what to say to that, so I hung up.
I stood up, ejecting the magazine from my .45. I set the magazine on the counter, turned the gun sideways and worked the slide. The chambered round popped out and bounced across the counter. I locked the slide back and placed the gun next to the magazine, along with my spare mag.
Someone was pounding on my front door. I turned on the family room lights, clicked off the floodlight and trotted into the foyer. Through the faux stained glass door I could see cops. I opened the door and stepped back.
Three cops hurried through the door with their guns drawn. I kept my hands in plain view and tried not to babble. “I’m the homeowner. There are two dead men in the back bathroom and your guys have the one outside. My gun’s on the kitchen counter. It’s unloaded.”
The first two cops ran into the family room while the third one stayed to keep an eye on me. I punched a button on the entryway intercom panel.
“All clear, Vicky. You can come out now. I’ll meet you in the dining room.”
The next two hours were a blur. Other that telling the cops that I’d been defending myself and producing the Federal paperwork proving the suppressor was legally owned, I didn’t say much. They didn’t push me. The crime scene techs took pictures of the dead invaders and showed them to me on an iPad. I didn’t recognize them and I refused to let Vicky look at photos of men I’d just killed. By the time the cops and EMTs and crime scene folks were finished, the sun was up.
After they were gone, we screwed hurricane shutters over my ruined pool door with the help of a neighbor and moved to a hotel. The cops had taken my .45 as evidence. I had other guns in the safe and I selected a Glock 17 and two spare magazines to take with me. There was no way I could feel safe if I was unarmed. A reliable 9mm with 52 rounds of ammo went a long way toward producing a warm feeling of security.
Vicky and I showered and put on sweats, then sat on the sofa in the hotel room, talking. We were both suffering the aftereffects of a massive adrenaline dump. Sleep was out of the question.
“It was so strange,” I told Vicky. “It was like watching a video. The sights moved by themselves and the gun seemed to fire on its own. I could see the slide move and the cases spinning out, all in slo-mo. It was like some kind of violent Zen experience. My training just took over and I didn’t have to do anything except watch.”