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In the middle of the night
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It was about 1 a.m. when our alarm system woke me up with the beeping sound that it makes when one of the exterior doors is opened.

The beep was coming from the front door.

Somehow I knew that Tink wasn't in bed so I sat straight up and called out, "Tink!!!" Within a second, he was standing at the bedroom door.

"It's me," he replied. "I was just going out on the front porch."

Tink rarely goes out on the front porch during the day so going out there in the wee hours of the morning was more than odd.

"Is everything OK?" I asked still pretty much asleep.

"It's fine. Go back to sleep."

I laid back down but I got to thinking and that thinking got me worried on two accounts: First, Tink had recently purchased a new handgun then gifted himself a shotgun for his birthday.

Secondly, it occurred to me what if Tink had heard something outside and gone out to confront the villain? And what if he got injured by said villain? Then, what if the sheriff's deputy asked me, "So, you knew it was unusual for him to go out the front door yet you didn't question it and just went back to sleep?"

We watch a lot of true crime shows at our house and Tink is actually paid to make up crime drama stories from time to time so we probably look at these situations differently than most folks.

With all that stuff in my head - plus the fact that I actually had a home invasion in the middle of the day once (that is a story for another time, which the district attorney has finally agreed that I can tell) - I wasn't going back to sleep.

I tried to figure out how I was going to help.

"If he has the revolver with him, I could use my little shotgun," I thought to myself since I didn't know where the new shotgun was. I was really troubled by the forthcoming inquisition I would face from the Sheriff's department. This is what I learned from all the true crime shows we watch: The spouse is always the first suspect.

Then I started thinking: "What if he is harmed and the villain then comes in and gets me, which would be easy to do if I go back to sleep?"

Dixie Dew (shortly before her death) was curled up beside me but she was deaf so she would be no help.

Plus, if the villain had handed her a piece of chicken, she would instantly become his best friend and give me up without a guilty thought.

This was when I decided I'd best get up and investigate for Tink's safety as well as to prevent me from going to prison for the villain. I tiptoed to the front door, opened it and peeped out. We recently installed lantern lighting so the yard is well illuminated. A possum skittered by while one of the cats looked at her from the sidewalk and yawned with boredom.

But no Tink on the porch or in the yard. No sound of scuffling. No smell of gunpowder in the air.

I did not call out to him.

"What will I tell the law if they question why I didn't call for him?" I decided I'd better get my shotgun and protect my husband.

I went back to the bedroom while deaf Dixie Dew slumbered on and got the shotgun and ammunition. I heard the front door open quietly. I froze. Footsteps quietly crossed the wood floor. Then, I heard the sound which stopped the panic: Water rushing from the kitchen spigot and the squirt of soap from the nearby container. Tink always washes his hands the moment he comes in from outside.

I put down the shotgun and crawled back in bed, comforted. No respectable villain would clean his hands before he bloodied them.

Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of There's A Better Day A-Comin'. Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her free weekly newsletter.