A couple of nights/mornings ago I had the Mother of All Self-Defense Dreams. First, a little background . . . I’m currently living in the house I grew up in, taking care of my father, who’s recovering from cancer surgery and therapy. (It’s true, by the way: the cure IS worse than the disease.) I keep a Remington Wingmaster 870 strategically located by my bed, in case of trouble. My dad is around a corner in his own bedroom. We live in a quiet neighborhood that is relatively crime-free. Here’s the dream:

I awoke (in the dream) to an unfamiliar noise in the hallway. I got out of bed to check it out; it didn’t sound as if my dad was stirring. I opened the door to see three men, dressed in painters overalls crowded in the hallway. I asked “What are you doing here, and how did you get in?” The leader replied “You’re gonna have to accept our program,” and reached out to grab my arm in an aggressive manner. [Ed: nothing to do with the Brady Campaign.] It registered then that one of the other guys behind him was armed.

In my dream, I processed a lot of information at warp-speed. Somehow, I was able to intuit that they were home invaders or robbers. They were dressed as painters to avoid suspicions by the neighbors, And they intended to do my dad and me bodily harm.

I pulled back and kicked the door closed, holding it shut for a second with my foot, looking over at the bed to see if the shotgun was still there. It was. I remember thinking, “I wonder if they snuck into the room and unloaded it. Guess I’m about to find out.” I dove for the bed, grabbed the gun, brought it to my shoulder, rolled on my back and fired through the door, all in one fluid motion.

I heard the first guy scream and fall. I racked the gun, jumped up and threw the door open, firing again, and taking bad guy #2 out.

Then I woke up.

Dagnabbit.

I really wanted the dream to finish up. I needed to know, did I get bad guy #3? Did I kill or wound? Was my dad okay? I dunno.

Once I was fully awake, I decided to do a post-mortem on the dream, to see how do-able it really was. Would I really be able to react that way should something like that occur in real life? I re-enacted the dream.

Standing in the doorway, pulling back, kicking the door closed, and grabbing the gun as I fell backwards, then bringing it to bear. (I left off the actually firing part of the exercise. I’m not stupid. Or careless. And I unloaded the gun completely before I tried ANY of this role playing stuff.)

I was gratified to learn that, while my behavior in the dream was a little 007-ish to be completely credible, it’s actually possible to do in real life what I’d done in the dream. Would it really happen that way? Would I have the presence of mind to react quickly enough to answer a real threat with lethal force. I dunno. I can tell you that I was in a house fire once, and the firemen told me later than it was only my quick reaction to run and deploy two fire extinguishers that saved our home from certain destruction.

I’m not trying to pat myself on the back, but I’m in the middle of reading The Survivors Club. The premise: there are certain attitudes that increase the likelihood of surviving an emergency situation. Maybe (I hope) I’m wired that way. I’d like to think so. But it makes me wonder if I am, and if that sort of thing can really be taught. And if my surviving a house fire has any bearing on my ability to read danger and act appropriately to save my life as well as my loved ones.

Nothing more to say about the experience. I’m sure the dream was triggered by reading the book combined with writing for TTAG. No big. But it is interesting to speculate on how any of us would react in that kind of situation.

Sleep well.

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