"Talk about gratitude," she said, half-bitingly, as she stood up. "I had to bust my butt to save you. I didn't think it was going to be possible to align with you for a bit, there."
He shrugged as he climbed to his feet with the aid of a stool. "I was supposed to die. I'm not sure I want to thank you."
Bridget brushed his face with her hand. "How can you say that? No one deserves to die!"
He idly scratched at the wound which had been replaced with a handprint. "You don't want to know. Believe me, I deserve to die." He gathered up his book and pen, finished off the coffee, then left a wad of cash on the bar. "Hope that covers the tip," he told her, walking through the door and hopping on a motorcycle.
"Wait! I don't even know your name!" Bridget called, rushing out the door.
He shrugged again. "Does it matter?"
She looked at the money on the counter. "It does to me." She was determined not to let him get away; there was something about him.
"Call me Ray," he said, looking her in the eye.
"Ray of light, Ray of hope?"
He snorted. "Hardly."
It was then that Solomon came running around the side of the cafe, his huge frame visible through the glass.
"Miss Bridget! Miss Bridget! We got Jeff! How's the fella?"
She pointed to Ray straddling the bike, who was busy zipping up his jacket. He waved, and smiled wanly.
"I'm okay, friend. The shot bounced right off a book I had in my pocket," he said, patting his upper chest.
Solomon grinned as he came up and patted the traveller on the back hard enough to loosen a man's teeth. "That's something else, ain't it, Miss Bridget? You sure are lucky, fella!"
"Ain't I, though?" he said sarcastically, although without malice.
"Well Miss Bridget, like I was saying, we caught Jeff. It took me and Matt and Sheriff Underwood to wrestle him down; I didn't know he was so strong! I think they're taking him to jail right now."
Bridget came over and rubbed Solomon's giant arm. "That was a good thing to do, Solomon. It was very brave."
"Jeff shouldn't have done that," he replied. "That was bad. I like to do good, and I knew it would be good to help catch him."
Ray held out his hand. "Then I thank you, Solomon. That was indeed a brave and noble thing, and I'm glad he won't shoot anyone else, including me."
Solomon beamed under the attention. "It was really nothing, like I was saying. Matt and Sheriff Underwood helped."
A siren's wail in the distance gave them all pause to listen. "Guess we won't be needing them," Ray said, sitting back to get a bit more comfortable.
"You're sure you aren't hurt, mister? I could've sworn you were shot."
Ray waved him off. "Like I said, it bounced off my old copy of War and Peace. I didn't feel anything, but the force of it must have knocked me over."
The ambulance screeched to a halt in the parking lot, and a pair of EMTs hopped out the back. They rushed into the cafe, and Ray sat with his arms folded across his chest, a bemused smile on his face.
The EMTs came back out, confusion apparent on their faces. Ray raised a hand. "I was the one who got shot."
The two men then came on either side of Ray's bike. "You aren't hurt?"
"Nah, it bounced off a book in my pocket."
The other man made to open his jacket. "You must have suffered a terrible bruise, then. You may be in shock."
Ray grabbed the man's wrist and extricated it from his jacket. "I told you, I'm okay. I don't want your help."
The two looked at each other, then back to Ray. Finally, the second shrugged. "Well, if you insist, I guess there's nothing we can do. Are the two of you okay?" he asked of Solomon and Bridget, and both nodded.
They filed back into the ambulance, which slowly drove off, Ray laughing the whole time. "Who's next, Barney Fife?"
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