Sometimes Superman Wears Sweats

I know I jumped about a foot.

 

“You’re lucky,” I said to the window once I could breathe again.

 

Steve was standing outside, grinning in at me through the broken pane. “Lucky?”

 

“You almost had a human carcass to deal with on top of the window one.”

 

“You? You’re a tough old bird.”

 

My throat closed and I looked away, not wanting Steve to have to deal with girly stuff like the vapors on top of everything else. My vision cleared, and I saw that he was now leaning inward and making hmmmm sounds as he measured the window frame and peered down at the baseboards.

 

“Ah hah! The culprit!” he cried, shimmying in just enough to fetch a large tree branch.

 

“How’d that get in here?” I asked stupidly. He reminded me of a mini, male Statue of Liberty with an oversized lantern, the way he was brandishing the thing.

 

More brandishing – along with torpedo sounds and motions, as Steve replayed the branch’s trajectory through the window. “Wanna hazard a guess?”

 

“I hate this.”

 

“Aw, it’s just a little wind.” He nodded toward the front door, his hair lifting skyward in a sudden gust, as if a hand had grabbed hold of his roots and yanked. “Are you going to let me in? Or would you prefer I take the short cut?”

 

Steve was not a tall man – stretching, he was lucky to make 5’8” – and years of rescuing the severely household handicapped had done a major number on his back. I motioned toward the door.

 

“Give me a second.” Cast-less, my ankle was killing me.

 

For whatever reason, Steve had already vaulted over the window. “Ah,” he drawled, straightening from his leap, “I do love a good challenge…”

 

I shot him a look.

 

He grinned then gestured at the chaos. “A little behind on the housekeeping?”

 

“Do you think you can fix it?”

 

“The mess? You should have called Elizabeth for that, not me.”

 

“Very funny.” I nodded toward the window. “That.”

 

A nod. “Pretty sure.  I brought all the leftover wood I could find. Hopefully something will work.”

 

“Look,” I said, “Anything’s better than nothing. Long as it keeps the bad guys out.”

 

He gave a start. “Oh, I almost forgot. That reminds me...I brought this for you.”

 

I stared at what had emerged from his coat pocket. “What’s that?”

 

“What do you think it is?”

 

“Is it real?” I asked.

 

“No, it’s my boys’ water pistol. Of course it’s real.”

 

Steve was a gun enthusiast and, once I began to evince some interest in this pursuit, we often chatted pre, mid and post household repair – Steve was as champion a chatterer as Hermine an apologizer – about his taking me along with him to the shooting range. There, he promised, he would teach me whatever it was I needed to know were I ever to take the plunge and purchase a gun of my own. Currently an “Extreme Pink” Cobra featured on gunbroker.com topped my wishlist.

 

This one was black, however, and not at all cute. “Thought you might want it tonight,” Steve told me, setting the gun beside me on the sofa. “In case you’re afraid. Or need help convincing the birds they’re not welcome.”

 

“The birds? What birds?”

 

He cocked his head toward the open window. “Any flown in yet?”

 

“NO!”

 

His brow lifted.

 

“No birds came in,” I retorted, although, of course, now I was wondering madly about that. How long had I been in the garage? “I’m not shooting any birds!”

 

“You may revise that when you find yourself knee deep in droppings.”

 

I eyed him evilly and, picking up the gun, aimed it in what I assumed was his direction. Who knew guns were so heavy? “If I find birds, you’re coming back. I don’t care what hour of the night it is. You hear me?”

 

Steve watched the theatrics before him with much the same expression he had sported that time with the TV. “That thing’s loaded, you know.”

 

I dropped it – straight to the floor.

 

Steve rubbed his temples and heaved a long sigh. “Ah the trials of my chosen profession,” he remarked, stooping to retrieve the gun. “A small suggestion. You might think twice, next time, before dropping a loaded firearm.”

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