Reaction Time

Easter Sunday has come and gone. Families celebrated the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Family Shooter gathered to celebrate and enjoy the feast that is dad's barBQ ribs and mom's famous Chinese cole slaw.

Swede couldn't hang around for long. She had a weekend mixed doubles tennis tournament to finish up. If it wasn't for the rain, she would have been done on Saturday. I went with to watch her win and to keep an eye on her. There are only a few places in Houston that can handle large league tournaments and Lee LeClear Tennis Center on Gessner and Bisonett is one of them.

Let's just say for argument's sake that the surrounding neighborhood is not on anyone's Most Desired Places to Live List. I have seen more news reports about shootings at the local nightclubs across the street from the tennis center than anywhere else around town. A fair number of Katrina evacuees relocated to that side of town as well, and HPD has come out to say that most of the crime increase and murders were attributed to NOLA bangers relocated to this particular slice of heaven.

Understand this, I will never let Swede play tennis at LLTC unless I am with her. If I cannot be there, I know she is safe in a big group of people who stick. to. gether. Women have been attacked at the courts, cars broken into, and I almost stepped on a hypodermic needle AND a condom within ten feet of the front entrance on Sunday.

Because of the rain out on Saturday, all matches were postponed or moved to another weekend. Since the mixed doubles tournament was moving so fast, the organizers opted to finish out on Easter. Swede played four matches in about as many hours. I was there for all of them. I enjoy watching Swede play, but this was like pulling teeth. I don't know anyone at these events, and can't really oogle the little teeny bopper high school hotties that some league teams recruit as ringers. So I sit and watch...I keep promising I will bring a book or my video camera. One of these day's I'll remember.

Swede and her partner, who I will call "Mini-Andy" because he reminds me of a shorter Andy Roddick, advanced all the way to the finals. This match started at 9:30p.m. Almost done, and thankfully starting at 2-2, so this would be a quick thirty minute thrashing of Swede's competition. I was sitting mid court watching them go through their warm-up when the Schumer hit the oscillating air distribution conveyance.

"Shit! Swede, cover! NOW!" I shouted at her.

Several gunshots interrupted the warm up. They came from the houses behind court 12 where Swede and Mini-Andy were set to play. From the baseline to the nearest fence is only 20 yards. I couldn't see where the shots came from exactly, but a couple of brief flashes from some follow up shots told me "Danger Close!"

Swede grabbed Mini-Andy and they booked for the pro-shop some 50 yards in the opposite direction. Their opponents, the Bobsy Twins, were firmly planted in place. The young girl was looking skyward for an errant bottle rocket or some such aerial display. She had the good sense to listen as I told everyone those were not bottle rockets. I had to admonish her partner for trying to pick up his racket bag and stroll...STROLL!...off the court.

Swede got them all running as I moved from my position to get in between her and the threat. She was shouting at me to not play the hero. Far from it. I didn't have any hero aspirations in me. All I wanted was a giant bullet trap (me) to soak up any stray rounds pointed in her direction. A second set of shots sounded even closer and prompted everyone to turn on the afterburners.

The whole incident lasted about 20 seconds. In that brief span of time, I moved from my seat mid-court to the baseline near the shooting (getting in between Swede and the threat), and back to the pro-shop. That includes about five seconds behind one of the benches when the second string of shots went off. Swede, in the meantime, shuttled everyone off the court and into the brick building that is the pro-shop. She had to spell it out for their opponents that, yes, they were really gunshots and not firecrackers.

The Bobsy Sister still didn't believe her. Bobsy Brother was more understanding, or scared, and didn't argue with Swede. They were from Kingwood and don't get down to the Lee LeClear Tennis Center and Shooting Gallery all that often. He is a guy, and I assume has seen a couple of action movies or maybe fired off a .22 at summer camp. Maybe.

Mini-Andy and Swede, having played in this neighborhood before, informed the tennis pro behind the counter who called the police. Now, the police don't usually drop their donuts and come running to this part of town on a shooting call unless one of several factors are in place: 1) Someone is dead. 2) Someone is dying. 3) The media has beaten the EMTs to the scene (there is a fire station not 100 yards from the front door of the tennis center). The pro assigned them to a new court for the match, with the pro-shop as a shield. Swede and Mini-Andy trounced the Bobsy Twins in straight sets to win the league championship.

All in all, it was a non-event. Could have been anything from a robbery to a drive-by. It could have been some drunk jacktard shooting at the moon or a homeowner protecting his property. Thankfully, it was not directed at us.

Armchair quarterbacking this is all I've been doing this week. This is a prime opportunity to examine how proper training and mindset work when the adrenaline dumps into your bloodstream. I am sure that Instructor Greg will be impressed and like to hear how this incident affected us. After all, it was his training that helped get me through it.

The only thing I really remember is yelling at Swede to seek cover and hearing the gunshots. As I pick it apart, I realize that most of my other actions were instinct mixed with training. I immediately moved and 'got off the line of force' as Greg would say. There was not much cover to seek, but I had a higher priority in the safety of my wife. I moved to get between her and the threat. I don't remember scanning completely around me, but do recall that the surrounding area and adjoining courts were free of players. As boring as tennis is to me, I still pay attention to my surroundings.

Swede never saw it, but I did have a firm grip on my pistol. It was under my shirt and a light jacket. The shirt was tucked in and I managed to rip out the shirt tail and go to master grip almost immediately. Everyone else thought I had my hand on my cell phone. Stands to reason for them to think that. No one could see where my phone was on my left side, and I had the bluetooth in my ear as well. Probably thought I was trying to call the police.

The Bobsy Sister asked her afterwards if I was in the military. I thought that was funny to hear. It just shows some of the mindset of people who don't know there is a whole other world full of 'sheepdogs' and what I like to call 'like minded individuals.'

I have renewed faith in my skills and mindset after Sunday night. I didn't hesitate and acted almost instantly. I don't doubt for a second that I would have fought tooth and nail to protect my wife and everyone involved.

I guess that was one of those "Moments of Truth" that determine the cut of a man's jib (for lack of a cheesier cliche). As far as I could tell, I met the challenge head on and didn't think to back down for a second. I relied on training and remained as calm as possible.

One part of me screams, "Let's do that again!" And, still, another part begs and pleads to not let it happen again. Ever.

I am just happy I was able to kiss my wife and sleep in my bed, with her, Sunday night. I want to have many more nights like that.

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