The Sound of Music
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The target is thirty feet up. From his perch, he's got a clear line of sight down every approach. I have to assume that he's been watching us for several minutes. I rest a hand on my holster and consider my options.
"Are you going to shoot him?" Katie asks.
"No, ma'am, we don't shoot cats," I say.
"Then why do you carry a gun?" the nine-year-old asks.
"Bad guys," I say.
"In Lyneboro?!" she says.
A breeze roars through the giant oaks shadowing the street. I close my eyes and listen. A lawnmower buzzes a few houses down. Yeah: Baghdad, this is not.
"It came with the badge, sweetie," I say. "It doesn't have any bullets."
Overhead, Wilbur meows sadly.
"They should give you a ladder, instead," Katie says.
"It wouldn't look quite the same on the belt," I say. "Listen, hon, why don't you get us some lemonade?"
"Okay!" Katie says.
She takes off at a sprint. Definite Marine potential. After she turns the corner of the house, I scan the street one last time. Empty. I focus on Wilbur's dim shape in the tree, concentrate, and--
--I'm sitting on the broad, shady branch. Wilbur nudges my shoulder and purrs.
"We aren't on speaking terms, Wilbur," I say. "I warned you last week."
He starts kneading my leg. I put my arms around him and look for a spot of open grass through the leaves. Just then, I sense movement. I look over in time to see him: dark hair, blue shirt, under a tree across the street. How long has he been there? He isn't leaving.
"Sorry, Wilbur, looks like we're going to have to do this the hard way," I say.
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