The WP The Daily Post word prompt— GINGERLY
“Gingerly isn’t a word I use often so when I tell you to put the pliers down, gingerly, I mean it,” I snapped at my neighbor, Pam.
We had just gotten home from the Village Hall where I’d been applying for the Woodpeckers Federal Depredation Permit. The marauding predators were defacing our community of cedar siding homes.
“You could trigger this bomb,” I said.
“How the hell did a bomb get attached to your garden shed, anyway,” Pam asked.
I glared at her.
“How the hell would I know? You saw me walk around here to get a rake and a paper bag. It’s a garden shed, not a goddamn Third World Country.”
“Relax,” Pam said. “I’ve called 911.”
As she said it, I heard the siren a few blocks away. The bomb was scheduled to go off in ten minutes. It might be my imagination, but often the sirens sound lazy. However this one screamed, get out of the way. We have business to take care of.
I relaxed. People with authority and, I hoped, experience would be here soon. They had only 8 minutes and 30 seconds to disarm this thing.
“Ma’am. Do you live here alone,” a young cop asked, even as he approached me.
“No. My husband lives here with me.”
“Where is he now?” The officer asked. “We need everybody out of the area.”
Well, that was a good question.
“I don’t know,” I said and looked around as though Grady might pop up.
When I left that morning, my husband had been up on a ladder trying to patch one of the new holes that the infamous Woody Woodpecker had left. We’d tried every one of what the authorities call, “Non-Lethal Strategies” to control his damage and there was nothing left, but to apply for Lethal Control Techniques.
That had sent Pam and me to the Village for the state permit to use a BB gun on the culprit. Research had informed Grady and me that shooting would be one of the quickest methods to dispatch the birds. The discharging of BB guns is often subject to local regulations in residential areas. The permit would allow us to shoot the marauding destroyer of homes.
But we’d decided to discuss shooting the damned thing, first. Also, if we invested in a BB gun, we still needed to step gingerly because we lived near other homes. We’d need to use considerable discretion because non-toxic ammo and shot can travel long distances if they miss their targets.
That had been my and Grady’s last conversation, I thought as I stared up at the multiple holes drilled into our beautiful natural wood siding home. Now, three new holes had appeared in the recently purchased garden shed.
Realization spread over me like hot butter; Grady had taped the bomb to the side of the structure. How was I going to fix this? What would happen to Grady?
“Pam,” I whispered. “I need you like I’ve never needed you before. I know who did this and if we don’t get the cops out of here, Grady will go to jail.”
“How?” Pam asked. Her huge eyes begged me to help her understand.
“Just do something. Anything,” I pleaded.
Pam sprung into action. She opened her cell phone and shrieked into it.
“Jen, Jen,” she cried. “Dave just saw a bomb at the Walmart.”
Now, my eyes were as huge as hers. Pam was my “ride or die” but we were
all going to jail now.
“What did you say?” the officer asked.
“She said call your bomb squad and get them over to the Walmart,” I told him.
“There are more lives to save over there than here.” I glared at him as if he were crazy.
This was mushrooming and I could see me sharing a cell with a bitch named Big Mama.
The officer pulled out his walkie and radioed ahead about the Walmart bomb.
“Which Walmart?” he asked.
“Good question, Pam. Which Walmart?” I said.
Pam just stood there trying to come up with an answer. She looked like a little girl trying to figure it all out.
She wouldn’t stand a chance with Big Mama. I had to save her.
“Officer, she’s in shock. I’ll call her husband,” I said.
I really called my husband.
“Dave,” I said into the phone. “I’m here with your wife Pam, in Jen and Grady’s backyard. The police bomb squad is on the way and we need to know which Walmart you told Pam had the bomb in the parking lot.”
Don’t be a dummy. Don’t be a dummy. Don’t be a dummy.
Thank God he wasn’t a dummy. At least not about this. I was going to kill him!
“You’re trying to tell me they know about the bomb on the garden shed,” he said right away.
“That’s right,” I said.
“I need to send them to a Walmart that will be far enough away for me to get home, disarm that one, and take it over to a Walmart.”
“That’s right,” I said.
“We’ve got to handle this thing gingerly,” he said. “We only have six minutes before that one goes off. Get them out of there. I’m five minutes away.”
“Good,” I said.
“He thinks it’s the Walmart that’s the farthest away,” I said to the young officer.
“What?” the cop said.
“I’m sorry, officer. I mean it’s the Walmart that’s on Highway 50.”
“That one is the farthest away,” he said.
He spoke into the walkie for a few moments and turned to face us as if he’d be sticking around.
“Well come on,” I shouted. “Let’s get up there. Your husband could get blown to bits, Pam.”
I grabbed Pam’s hand before the officer could stop us and pulled her along with me. She had frozen up, and I kept thinking, this was your idea, girl! Don’t make me turn state’s evidence on you. Move it!
As my car shot away from the curb, the young officer’s car fell in behind me. Grady’s jeep came careening around the corner and we made desperate eye contact as our cars passed.
Once we got to the Walmart, emergency vehicles had parked out front. Irate shoppers milled about, talking and gesturing.
“Wanna identify your husband?” an officer asked Pam.
“I…I…don’t see him,” she said.
“How about you, Ma’am?” they asked me.
“He’s not in the crowd,” I said, telling the truth for the first time in a while.
“Can we drive around the parking lot and try to spot his car?”
The head cop gave us the okay. Pam and I drove slowly around the entire lot while the bomb squad searched Walmart. Nobody found anything.
After about fifteen minutes, the squad leader ran up to our car.
“Ma’am, we need you to call your husband again.”
He wasn’t focused on Pam. He stared at me. Our young cop had gone away, and this guy didn’t know who was who. I called Grady.
“Dear, the bomb squad would like the exact location of that bomb you saw.”
My husband told them it was at the Walmart in the total opposite direction.
Yes, he would be there when they arrived. He’d be in a black Jeep Cherokee. He further explained that the bomb might have his fingerprints on it since he’d tried to disarm it. Hurry, he warned them! They only had ten minutes.