I left the apartment and scurried down the stairs. Outside, I noticed the cloudless sky and hurried to my first stop before the pavement got too hot. I’d had an idea overnight, and I stopped first at the pawn shop, two blocks away. I found a little gun that would just fit my hand. Burt, the pawnbroker, called it a woman’s gun—a derringer. But would it stop someone if he wanted to catch me? That’s what I wanted to know.
“What do you want that for?” Burt asked.
“They still haven’t caught the Torso Murderer, and I’m coming home after dark from the Pavilion, Burt.”
“Ya, but there are a lot of people getting on and off the streetcar with you. I thought your dad was meeting you when you got off the car.”
“Well, he is, Burt, but sometimes he gets held up, and I have to wait there for a while. Besides, with his leg, I’m not sure he could protect either one of us.”
That wasn’t a lie.
“Your dad should be using the gun.”
“With his crutches?”
Burt sighed. “I’ve done a lot of business with your family, Bobbi, and I’m not in favor of this. Do you even know how to use it?”
“I was hoping you would give me a demonstration.”
“Huh,” Burt said, eyeing me. “What is going on with your dad these days?”
“Oh, you know. The crutches make him slow. He can’t find any jobs—at least until that leg heals. He’s not very happy.”
Boy was that an understatement.
“Huh,” Burt said, taking the gun from me. “This is how you open the action to load it,” he said. “See. It’s loaded.
“Shoulda checked that,” he muttered. “You close it like that and here’s the safety. Don’t flip that safety off unless you’re ready to shoot or you’ll shoot yourself in the toe.”
I gave him a half smile.
He insisted that I play with the gun for a while as he watched. “That’s it,” he said. “I’d get a box of ammunition and practice, if I were you.”
“I probably have something that will fit that.”
“No. Where would I practice?”
“I don’t know,” he said.
“I don’t either. I guess I’ll just take my chances. Thanks for the lesson. I pulled out my wallet and paid the bill.