Here's an excerpt from the story.
Linda and I had gone to the gym, as was our custom. Earlier in the day, she had found a childish Valentine’s card tucked under the windshield wiper on her car. There was no signature, just a cartoon character offering up their heart. It could have been from anyone. Or it could have been from her stalker. She had started to throw it away, but remembered the warning from Malone. So she was a little unnerved when we went to work out. But the physical activity, the pounding music, and the noise of the other women grunting and groaning through the moves helped to improve her mood. We bundled up afterward and were headed for the car. The lot had been crowded when we’d arrived, so we had ended up parking at the far end.
Talking quietly, trudging through the clumps of snow and ice, neither one of us heard him at first.
“It’s getting to the point where I just want to stay home,” she said quietly.
“You can’t hide, Linda. If you become a prisoner in your own home, then he wins. And you are much too strong a person to let that happen.”
She gave me a wan smile. “I know, Jay Kay, it’s just…”
“Hey!” a gruff voice snapped at us from only a couple of feet away.
Linda let out a shriek of surprise. She lost her footing on the ice and crashed to the pavement. Looking over my shoulder, I saw a blocky shape, hidden in the shadows beyond the reach of the overhead lights, gliding close to the back end of a parked car. He took a menacing step forward, one hand clutching something tightly and extending it towards us.
“Run!” I screamed at Linda for all I was worth.
“Hey,” he snapped again, still reaching for us.
I took a step toward him and planted my left foot on one of the few dry patches of pavement. Then I swung my right foot as hard as I could, as if I was about to nail a fifty yard field goal to win the Super Bowl. Without realizing it, I braced for the impact. To this day, I’d swear I was aiming for his crotch. But I missed.
Maybe the pavement wasn’t dry after all. Or maybe suddenly shifting my weight to make that kick caused me to lose my balance. Or maybe subconsciously I couldn’t really kick a guy in the balls. Or maybe he sensed what was happening and he took a step back. I’ll never really know.
In my peripheral vision, I could see Linda scrambling to her feet, already racing toward her car, clicking the remote control to unlock the doors. My leg continued its arc and just before making contact, my left leg shot out from underneath me.
My foot slammed into the bulky guy. I caught him square in the chest. With my body going horizontal, it must have looked like some kind of ninja move. Whatever it was, it was enough to take him off his feet, and he went down with a thud. I couldn’t be sure, but it looked like his head bounced off the pavement.
I landed on my side and scrambled immediately to my feet. I was crouched in a fighting stance, anger and adrenalin churning in my gut. The guy let out a low groan. He made no move to get up.
Suddenly lights flared around us. Linda had managed to start her car and pull it into the aisle. She lay on the horn, a long deep-throated wail that cut through the night. A few people who had been moving across the parking lot came running over.
Illuminated by the headlights, I looked down at the attacker. He was an older man, with a couple of day’s worth of stubble across his face. His left hand was pressed against his chest, roughly in the spot in which I’d kicked him. Slowly he raised his right hand in my direction as our eyes locked. His voice made a throaty rasping noise as he spoke.
“She dropped her glove.”
* * * *
Malone was not happy. The look on his face told me everything I needed to know. I’d stepped over some kind of line.
“Jamie, I told you I’d take care of this. You can’t be taking matters into your own hands.” His voice was tense. There was none of the tenderness, the humor or the calm that I usually associated with Malone.
“But Malone, I can’t leave it alone. We’re talking about my best friend.”
“I know who we’re talking about! But you can’t go running around like some renegade in a movie, trying to see that justice is done. This whole thing could have blown up in your face.”
“No buts, Jamie.” He leaned forward, looming over me. “You put an innocent old man in the hospital, attacking him like that. And the only thing he had done was to follow Linda out to her car because she dropped her glove.”
He threw up his hands in disgust. “You just don’t get it! You get this notion in your head that you’re right and to hell with everyone else.” I couldn’t remember Malone ever swearing before. He couldn’t look at me.
“I’m sorry, Malone.” My voice was little more than a whisper.
“Sorry might not be enough, Jamie. You could have killed that guy. And what if he’d really been after Linda? What if he was armed? Instead of just getting in your car, and calling for help, you could have been putting yourself in harm’s way.”
I kept my eyes on the floor. There was no way I could look at him. It was all I could do to shrug my shoulders.
“No more heroic moves, Jamie.”
“We’ll do whatever you say, Malone. I really did think she was in trouble.”