The line went dead.
Ray held the phone a moment, trying to fight back panic and figure out what to do. “Jan, take Grace to a neighbor’s and stay there.”
“Why? What’s wrong?”
“Some nutcase is coming here. I accidentally grabbed his bag at the airport. He made threats. It’s probably nothing, but just in case, I want the two of you out of the house when he comes.”
“Call the cops!”
“I will. As soon as you’re safe. Hurry.”
“Come with us!”
“No! If I go, it’ll just make him madder. I want this resolved tonight. Don’t worry, the cops will probably get here before he does.”
Jan scooped up Grace and kissed her husband. “Be careful!”
Ray watched until they were safely inside the neighbors’ house, then called the cops. He told them the situation and was told units were on their way. He went to his safe but his hands were shaking so much it took three tries to unlock it. Ray pulled out and loaded a 12-gauge shotgun and .357 Magnum revolver. He didn’t want trouble, but this whacko scared him. He wanted to be prepared and able to defend himself. Ray knew he wasn’t a great shot, but with a shotgun at close range he wouldn’t miss no matter how scared he was.
Ray brought Burdett’s bag to the front door and noted the man’s name and address in case he left before the cops arrived. He placed the guns so they’d be out of sight but within Ray’s reach. “Come on, cops! GET HERE!”
He jumped when pounding on the door sounded like a battering ram was being used.
“I’M HERE, PISS-ANT! GIVE ME MY BAG OR I’LL BREAK YOUR SCRAWNY NECK!”
A couple of police cruisers screeched to a halt, and two cops rushed to the front door. Ray watched through the peephole and could hear through the door. Although Burdett weighed at least forty pounds more than the two cops combined, his tone and demeanor immediately changed as soon as they arrived. “Good evening officers. It’s all a misunderstanding. This person and I accidentally grabbed each other’s bags at the airport. When I tried to get mine, this Johnson fella threatened me.” Burdett knocked again, this time rather gently. Ray opened the door and the suitcases were quickly exchanged.
“He was the one who threatened…!” Ray spluttered.
“STOP!” The taller cop, a sergeant named Murphy, cut him off. “It’s one man’s word against the other, so I’m warning both of you: This better be the end of it. You both have your own bags back. No more threats from either of you. Do you both understand?”
Ray was so furious he could barely speak, “Okay.”
Burdett asked, “Can I go now?”
“Sorry for this little misunderstanding.” Burdett smiled and left.
“May we come in, Mr. Johnson?”
“Please.” He pointed to a couch. “Have a seat.”
“I’m Sergeant Murphy and this is Officer Trowden. On the way over here, we checked the record of the man you said threatened you. William “Billy” Burdett has a long rap sheet. Mostly violent crimes. To our knowledge, he hasn’t done anything lately and isn’t wanted for anything. We could have brought him downtown, but since it was your word against his he’d have been released before we walked back to our squad cars, and would have been angrier than ever. Burdett is a violent and vengeful man. Holds grudges a long time. We hope our warning scared him off, but just in case, we’ll request extra patrols on your street for a while.”
“Thank you, sergeant.”
“Be careful with this guy. He’s dangerous, and doesn’t make idle threats. Please call us right away if he contacts you again.”
(To be continued…)