Arts Listings

‘Don’t Shoot! Don’t Shoot!

By Judith Hunt
Friday December 28, 2007

For thirty miles a black car had followed her closely at the posted maximum speed—by dark night on a lonely two-lane road. 

And for the past ten minutes the driver behind had switched on his inside dome light and frantically hand-signaled her to move to the right, as if he wanted to pass—very unsafe on the hairpin turns coming up ahead. 

But it was Saturday night. The man might be hurrying to a party. To be rid of him she signaled, turned off onto the narrow shoulder, and stopped. If he wanted to pass he would proceed. 

He did not, but halted close behind her. 

Watching as he left his car, she checked her door and window locks and reached to her glove compartment for the small pistol she had recently bought and licensed. 

When the man’s face appeared by her window she raised her gun and loudly demanded: “What’s the matter with you?” 

The man’s eyes dilated with fear; his arms flew up and he stammered “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot! I just want to warn you: Your tail lights are out. You could have a bad rear-ender in town!” 


She should have laughed, but all she felt was enormous relief, and her hands shook as she lowered her gun and opened her window an inch to apologize. 

She was not a timid woman, but in her position she had to be careful, especially when traveling alone at night. Not quite a year ago one of her coworkers was ambushed and killed on this same deserted road. Like her, he had been one of the increasingly small number of physicians still offering legal abortions. In the north of the state, she was, after his death, one of only two remaining. Threats and fear for the safety of their families had driven off all the others. 

Now she saw that her friends were right: She was evermore greatly needed, but she also needed a vacation, for even she was becoming paranoid. She must escape from this fear for a time—go somewhere far away, to where no one knew her, or of her work ...