Practice Makes Perfect

Over the candlelight Jeff looked into the brown bold eyes of Juanita and, raising a cup of coffee, said, “To you, my love, to your love of truth, to your hard work and your un-surrendering spirit.” Her red lips gleamed in a smile as she saw his blue eyes brighten and darken. Then she lifted her empty cup to his, and as he poured half of the black liquid into it she softly sang, “From thee to me I take to drink, but always for myself I think.” His lips tightened, which for him was a smile, and then, as the hate-rant of the rapster down the hallway faintly filled their ears, they quickly drank, then walked together out of the run-down apartment.

Past the litter of empty bags of chips and broken glass, past the old rusty weeds and the brash new ones shouting up through the sidewalk, past the nasty slumping youths on the corner who spat obscenities at them, they walked calmly along in their invisible shield of love. Juanita wore a long, shapeless dull green skirt, so that her beautiful legs wouldn’t show. Jeff wore an old oversized jacket so that the gun
under his left armpit wouldn’t show. They crossed town out of the ghetto into the prosperous part of town and as they passed the bright jewelry store and sparkling restaurant windows their hands touched and clasped and swung.

As they entered the Timeless Art Museum they heard a shot, then another, and then screams and shouts. Jeff pushed Juanita back outside and behind a large bush along the wall and said, “Kneel down! Stay there! Don’t move!” Then he drew out his gun and re-entered the building.

There were two of them, each wearing black clothing and black masks. They had assault rifles and were ordering scared and crying people to lie down on the marble floor. Jeff ran behind a large pillar just as one of them saw him and fired. Jeff yelled out, as if he had been hit, then rolled over to the other side of the pillar on his stomach, aimed , and squeezed. The beast went down. The other thing grabbed an old woman off the floor and, holding her in front of him, shouted, “Throw down your gun or I will kill her!”

Just then Juanita walked in, calm, cool, collected, her right hand hidden in a fold of her dull green skirt. Jeff was on the floor to her right, about twenty feet away. The savage and his hostage were about forty feet in front of her. Some ten feet behind the savage stood a magnificent statue of a boy with a slingshot. She walked slowly and steadily straight ahead while saying, “Why don’t you let the old woman go? Take me as a hostage instead.” He replied, “Tell white boy to throw his gun away first.”
Juanita looked back at Jeff and winked with her right eye, then roughly said, “Do as he says, you white trash you.” Jeff wasn’t sure what she had in mind, but he tossed his gun clattering over the floor.

The evil thing in black pushed the old woman out of the way, and was swinging his rifle around to train it on Jeff, when Juanita’s right hand rose and flashed! He was finished.  The long knife quivered in his throat as a few wild bullets spat out of his gun and he fell into oblivion.

Much later, back in her apartment, Jeff asked, “Where did you learn to throw a knife like that?” With her lips to his ear she whispered, “From Ayn Rand I learned the love of truth and the love of action in defense of the good. When I am not sculpting I practice a lot.” Jeff held her back by her shoulders, his eyes narrowing, then took her right hand and pressed it to his tight’ning lips.

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