Lila strode down the stairs into the Fifth Street Rifle and Gun Club, her smile widening at the first whiff of cordite and the muffled sounds of gunfire. The Gun Club was her employer, her domain, and her harem. She stopped at reception to sign-in, catching Carl daydreaming at the desk. Probably dreaming about her, Lila thought, detecting a hint of a blush in Carl’s
mushroom-white complexion. Poor little boy.
            
“Um good morning Lila. You’re early, you don’t have a lesson until noon.” Carl shifted in the chrome and leather office chair
and started absently picking through a pile of release forms.
           
“I figured I’d run a few rounds through the Desert Eagle. Alex said the sights were off. Who’s Sammy got today?”
           
Carl glanced down at the log book. “Three customers. Wilson , per usual. A cop from Easton , brought a Colt Sporter, purchased a lot of rounds. And a new member, full membership.” Carl looked back down at the log, tapping the green lined pages with one ink-spotted finger. “A woman. Her name’s Gwen Russell. Sam’s showing her around.”
           
Lila paused to compose herself, running close-trimmed black fingernails through her short black hair, taming a few errant
strands. She heard the echoing discharge of two guns firing almost simultaneously, one of them Wilson ’s rifle. “Another
hausfrau who got broken into aiming for her License To Carry? You could have just sold her the next course, she doesn’t need a full membership.”
           
“No, Gwen’s not another Panic Patty. She brought her own Beretta, a Cheetah. Nice magnesium case, too.” Carl smiled
momentarily, then turned back to shuffling the release forms.

Lila frowned down at the top of his head. “Huh. Well, I think I’ll go say hello to your Gwen, and welcome her to the club.  You said Sammy’s with her?”
           
“Station Two.”
           
Lila hung up her long leather duster, tossed her bag in a locker, put on a pair of earmuffs and her amber shooting glasses and walked down the line to station two. No gunfire, but a high-pitched laugh came from the small space between the bullet-proof dividers. Lila’s Teju lizard cowboy boots clomped on the cement floor as she came up behind the firing point.
           
The occupants turned away from the range as she approached. Their electronic earmuffs cancelled out shooting noise but still
allowed normal sounds through. The woman, Gwen, was holding a small pistol, and Lila noted how she automatically thumbed the safety on and brought the muzzle down and away. Practiced control.
           
Sammy saw who it was and pushed himself back from Gwen, up against one of the dividers, and started fiddling with something
in his shooting vest.

Lila caught a flash of metal out of the corner of his eye, and wondered if Sammy had her gold-plated Hiatts handcuffs in his
pocket.
      
“Lila. Gwen, this is Lila, another one of the instructors here at the Club. Lila, this is Gwen, our newest member.”
           
Lila held out her open palm. Gwen easily shifted the Beretta to her left hand and shook. Lila looked down at Gwen’s hand. Firm grip. No rings. No fingernail polish. Gwen was shorter than Lila, and a little thinner. Tight, compact figure. She looked older than Lila though, maybe thirty-five. Blonde, of course, with a short pageboy cut, shorter even than Lila’s.
           
“Welcome to Fifth Street . Senior Instructor Lila Carpenter, pleased to meet you. Nice piece.”

Gwen’s grip lingered a moment, squeezing Lila’s fingers, then slipped away. “Gwen Russell. Thanks, I’ve got a couple of others, but the Berretta is my favorite compact. Sam said he really likes the feel of it too.”
           
Lila glanced over at Sammy. He wasn’t looking back, although he kept one hand in his pocket. For the first time in a long while her monopoly was facing competition, and it wasn’t pretty. Well, it was pretty, and that was definitely the problem. “Sammy, why don’t you go and fire a box with the Double Eagle? Alex said the sights were off. I’ll make sure our newest member’s taken care of and answer any questions for her.”
           
Sammy’s mouth pursed up like he might protest, or maybe cry. The curly-haired ex-Navy Seabee had been a fixture in Lila’s
studio apartment the last few months, but lately she’d thought Sammy might be getting too dependent on her, and she’d
starting letting him down. Taking off the cuffs. Making him leave. He finally took his hand away from his vest, gave Lila a
half-serious salute, and stepped out of the station.
           
Gwen turned back towards the targets, and shifted into a kneeling position. She had a tattoo at the base of her neck, an
elven star. Balanced on one knee, she looked back up at Lila. “I don’t have any questions, but I’d love for you to stay a while and critique my technique, if you have the time. You’re a pleasant surprise.”
           
Lila sucked in a long breath, dense with gun smoke, concrete dust, and machine oil. “Me?”
           
“You. I mean, you don’t see many woman at the firing range. More now than there used to be, but still. Not many senior
instructors. Definitely not many cute ones.” Gwen turned to the target, and started firing. Round after round after round after round. All bull’s-eyes.

                                                                     ~~

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Published in: on September 27, 2006 at 12:19 am  Comments Off on