It was 3:25 a.m. when the shotgun blast split the air. Immediate pandemonium broke out up and down the dock. Dogs barked indignantly, and hatches slammed open on air conditioned boats as people stuck their heads out to see what had awakened them. Glenn and I grabbed articles of clothing and huddled them on any old way. Only the fact that each of us has a designated clothes-drop prevented us from appearing on the dock in each other's shorts and T-shirts.
We didn't stop to ask each other what had happened. Others might question where the gunfire had originated. We knew.
We were the first to arrive at Miss Fortune. Mavis stood in the cockpit of her boat holding the shotgun in her arms. She was clad in a huge pink T-shirt and looking rather like a pint-sized, brown-haired Joan of Arc, though pale and rather shaky-looking.
"Where is he, Mavis?"
"I don't know. A couple minutes ago I felt somebody get on the boat, so I picked up this ol' shotgun and tippy-toed out into the cockpit as quietly as ever I could. I could see him against the docklights. He looked just enormous!
"Anyway, I just let fly with both barrels. Like I told you it would, the kick knocked me flat on my ass, so I didn't see what happened to him. Didn't you see anybody on the dock?"
"Who was it?" said Glenn.
"Hell, I don't know. All I saw was a big ol' silhouette. A man, I think, but I don't exactly know why I think so. He kind of stood like a man. I reckon I peppered him a good one."
"I saw everybody on the dock, I said. This whole side of the marina is up and out of their boats, dogs and all. Where was he when you shot at him?"
"He was standin' on the starboard rail. Looked like he was about t'get down into the cockpit. Say, you don't s'pose he went in the water, do you?"
"What you got, Mavis?" said Ernie Manson. "A burglar, or what?"
"What," I said. "Somebody got on their boat, and Mavis was ready with the shotgun."
"Well, you better hope you didn't hit 'im," said Ernie. "Likely he'll sue you, if he lives through it."
"Well, I don't care. He hadn't got any business gettin' on my boat in the middle of the night. Not without askin' permission to come aboard."
"I know that, and you know that," said Ernie, "but would a judge know that? And worse yet, what about a jury?"