Wednesday, April 9, 2014


      Vincent entertained her family with stories of training the Arc Foundation's dogs during dinner that night. Nikki knew better than to relax and think she had escaped one of his punishing workouts -- 'refresher courses,' he called them. She was proven right when Vincent responded to Davie's question about what else he did besides train dogs.
      "I teach self-defense." Vincent tipped his head in Nikki's direction. "Has she shown you all the neat Bruce Lee moves I taught her yet?" He pretended to be hurt and dismayed when the boys responded with gleeful negatives. "Okay, Nikki. You and me. Back yard. One hour."
      "What if I don't show up?" she retorted, deciding it was easier to play the game than resist and disappoint the children. Besides, her parents were trying not to laugh. Better to treat it as a game than a punishment.
      "I know how to find you." He waggled his eyebrows like a melodrama villain.


      Red and blue lights flashed at the same moment Nikki launched herself backwards to avoid Vincent's low roundhouse kick. That curious, there-but-not-there sensation kicked in so she reacted without thinking or even feeling. She twisted in mid-air, landing on her hands to curl up and somersault across the grass. Brandy, Davie and Danny let out gasps and cheers as she landed on her feet and only staggered a little.
      "You want to tell me what's going on here?" Officer Mark Donovan blurted, leaping from the driver's seat of the police cruiser that had pulled up on Stephen, parallel with the Holwoods' backyard.
      "We're learning how to beat up the bad guys!" Davie crowed.
      "No, we're teaching you how to avoid getting beaten up by the bad guys," Vincent corrected. He pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the sweat from his shaved head. "Let me guess, officer. Some friendly neighbor called and said a big, ugly black man was beating up on a poor little defenseless white girl, and you should get over here and save her from a fate worse than death?"
      "What's that?" Brandy wanted to know.
      "Liver and onions for dinner for a week," Nikki said, earning a chorus of 'ewwws' and gagging sounds from the children. "Get on inside. The lesson's over." She didn't wait to see if they obeyed, but crossed the neighbor's yard with Vincent right behind her. From the clatter of feet on the back steps and the creak of the door, they had obeyed.

      With the falling of dusk, she had thought the impromptu little demonstration-cum-refresher lesson in the back yard would have been partially hidden from prying eyes. Obviously, she had been wrong.

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