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Watch Out. I'm Armed!!

Published In The Kiss of Death, November/December 2002, Volume 8 Issue


I hate coffee.  I really do.   This isn’t to say that I’m not prone to certain forms of Colombian Caffeine, it’s just coffee I don’t like.  But Caramel latte’s ... that’s another story.  You see, I hate coffee, but Starbucks®’s caramel latte’s are my addiction.  Logical?  Not exactly.  But that’s just par for the course.  I head to Starbucks® on a regular basis, limiting myself to two a week.  Or maybe three.

Because of this addiction to caffeine, there is one thing about my life that is always certain.  Ninety percent of the time, when I am out and about, driving around, picking up kids or heading to the store I am either: a) carrying a Venti Caramel Latte; or b) carrying my big, green ceramic mug which contains the Earl Grey Tea that I drink every morning at home.

A bad habit of mine?  I prefer to think I’m just well armed as I walk from my car to where ever it is I am heading?

Melissa vanPolanen, my local caffeine dealer, tells me that when she hands me my latte, the contents of that cup is 160 degrees.

Reminiscent of the days of old when the castle defenders would pour their boiling oil down on the attackers, a steaming cup of coffee in the face of anyone who wanted to make trouble might make them think twice before continuing.

And the ceramic mug?  Beats brass knuckles.  That mug, swung around and impacting on the side of a person’s head, will do enough damage to deter most anyone.  The cup is going to break.  And when it does, it’s going to be in great big sharp shards right there against that person’s face, maybe even near his eyes. 

How interesting do I now look as a potential weak and sniveling victim?

We need to keep ourselves safe.  As intrigue and mystery writers we need to keep our heroines safe so that they can make it to the end of the book.

The debates rage about whether people should have guns in the house.  Whether pepper spray or mace really work.  Kids, as well as adults, take martial arts and self defense classes.  Girls are working out beside the boys, leaning how to protect themselves and this is a good thing.  What my nine year old is learning in her Kung Fu class today, may help her when she’s a freshman at college and that cute guy from math class gets out of hand.

Personal weapons abound.  But not the way some might think. Every home I can think of is well armed, even though most of the residents don’t know it.

The lamp beside the bed.  Those beautiful wrought-iron scrolls on the bottom would leave an interesting pattern on the side of someone’s head should he think to wake me up in the middle of the night.

I started studying self defense in 1994.  First with down and dirty street defense and later, in 1998 in Tae Kwon Do and Kung Fu.  Over the years I have learned that 9.99 times out of 10 an assailant is going to need two hands.  At some point during an attack, he will have to put down whatever weapon he is holding to proceed to his next step. 

If I can keep my head, if our heroines can think clearly, if we can control the fear and use the adrenaline which is pumping through our veins, I can wait for that window of opportunity and strike.

The lamp.

A bottle of perfume.

PAM®.  Windex.

If it can spray, it can hit a target.  The worse it smells, the more damage it can do.  Imagine Easy Off® Oven Cleaner in the eyes.

Austin Powers, in the movie INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY used a roll of dental floss and a tube of toothpaste to escape Dr. Evil Villainess’ Mutant Sea Bass Death Device.

Far fetched?   Well probably the dental floss?  But toothpaste smeared into the bad guy’s eyes–- mint flavored, spearmint flavored, whitening or tartar control–- that’s a real weapon.

Keep a chair between you.  A couch.  Curtains pulled down off the wall to tangle over someone’s head.  This can give you, or your heroine, the spilt second they might need to make it to the door.

And if they can’t make it?

There was a story circulating years ago about the woman who, while in the shower found a man in her bathroom.  During their struggle she grabbed him by the ... let’s say “assets”, squeezing hard, twisting until he was unable to continue.  She never released her grip.  Never.  She lead him through the house and out the front door where she got help ... and a lot of attention.  They were both still naked.

“If he started to resist,” she supposedly said, “I figured I wasn’t squeezing hard enough and fixed that real quick.”   

In any given situation, the heroine of our story can find something to help her out. 

On a boat: a spear, an oar, even the anchor if it’s not too big.  In a barn: a pitch fork, a spur, a bridle swung with the bit hitting first.  A gym: a dumb bell, a sleeve for weights?

A brick, a rock.  If you or your heroine can pick it up, if they can swing it without breaking their back, then they are already ten paces ahead of where they were then they looked up and saw the evil bad guy staring them down.

Sometimes the hero will get there in time to save the day.  Sometimes the heroine’s going to have to look that villain in the eye and take care of the situation herself.  Either way works for me.  As long as I know what to do and the heroine knows what to do and we both know we could have taken care of the problem ourselves.  We’ll just let the hero think he was ... well ... heroic!!

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