I left my purse in Ranger's office. Taking my gun, we walked down to the storeroom for bullets, then took the stairs down to the basement to the gun range. "Do I have to work on head shots again today?" I asked, crossing my fingers behind my back that Ranger had changed his mind about that.
"Yes. You got away with avoiding them yesterday, but today you have to do them."
We put on our protective gear and Ranger cued up a target. Taking a deep breath, I started by aiming at the head. I hit many more head shots than I had the last time I had practiced. I shot a few more clips into the target, getting progressively better at hitting head shots.
Then Ranger reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. Unfolding it, he stapled a head shot of Berginni to the target. Ignoring my fast intake of breath, he sent the target down to the opposite end of the range. My head swam and I think I must have turned white, because when Ranger turned back to me he immediately led me to the bench and pushed my head between my legs, quietly instructing me to push up with my head against his hand. After a few moments, he helped me sit up. Assessing, he looked at my face and must have been satisfied that I was going to be all right. "It is just a piece of paper. But if he came at you again, you would need to be able to look after yourself. You need to be able to shoot him, and that starts with being able to shoot a piece of paper with his picture on it. You may not have the luxury of hesitating."
"I know. It's just that the picture makes it seem so real."
"That's the point. That's why you are using the picture. Not all your targets will have bulls-eyes printed on them."
He helped me stand up, and led me over to the targets. He took my gun from me and refilled the clip as I stood, looking at the target in a panic. Handing me my gun, he stood close by in support. I started shooting. The shots went wide and far. When I finished, Ranger didn't even bother exchanging the target. I had not hit the target enough to even justify the change. Quietly refilling the clip and handing my gun to me, he put his hand on my lower back. I felt the warmth of his support and it steadied my aim. I hit some on the actual target this time. Ranger refilled my clip, handed me the gun, and said "again". After a few more clips I was getting more shots on the body and even some shots on the bulls-eyes. However, I was also getting tired. When Ranger said "enough for today", I was thankful. I refilled my clip and put my gun in my holster as Ranger pulled the target up from the far wall. He took off the picture of Berginni, refolded and put it in his pocket, and put the remaining targets in the recycling bin. Still shaking, we left the range.
Waiting for the elevator, Ranger folded me into a hug. "I know you don't like it", he said, "but it's important."
"I know", I said, tears coming to my eyes. "That's why I gave in and did it. What I really wanted to do was to walk out." I hid my face in his shoulder. He kissed my head and smoothed my curls out of his face with one hand while he held me tightly with the other.
"Now, we only have time for a short workout today. Dinner will be soon. Let's do a small stretching segment, maybe ten minutes, followed by a half hour workout, followed by another ten minutes of stretching. You have healed enough now that we can do a full workout."
"My day just keeps getting better and better."
He smiled. "It will. If you stay for dinner, I will give you a massage afterwards."