MY TWO-BEDROOM SALTBOX is at the end of a cul-de-sac past the train tracks for the Long Island Railroad. North side of the highway, as we like to say Out Here. The less glamorous side, especially as close to the trains as I am.
My neighbors are mostly year-rounders. Fine with me. Summer People make me want to run back to my apartment in the West Village and hide out there until fall.
There is still enough light when I’ve changed into my Mets sweatshirt, the late-spring temperature down in the fifties tonight. I put on my running shoes, grab my air rifle, and get back into the car to head a few miles north and east of my house to the area known as the Springs. My favorite hiking trail runs through a rural area by Gardiners Bay.
Competing in a no-snow biathlon is the goal of my endless training. Trail running. Shooting. More running. More shooting. A perfect event for a loner like me, and one who prides herself on being a good shot. My dad taught me. He’s the one who started calling me Calamity Jane when he saw what I could do at the range.
Little did he know that carrying a gun would one day become a necessary part of my job. Just not in court. Though sometimes I wish.
I park my Prius Prime in a small, secluded lot near Three Mile Harbor and start jogging deep into the woods. I’ve placed small targets on trees maybe half a mile apart.
Fancy people don’t go to this remote corner of the Hamptons, maybe because they can’t find a party, or a photographer. The sound of the air rifle being fired won’t scare the decent people out here, who don’t hike or jog in the early evening. If somebody does make a call, by now just about all the local cops know it’s me. Calamity Jane.
I use the stopwatch on my phone to log my times. I’m determined to enter the late-summer biathlon in Pennsylvania, an event Jimmy has sworn only I have ever heard about. Or care about. He asked why I didn’t go for the real biathlon.
“If you ever see me on skis, find my real gun and shoot me with it.”
I know I’m only competing against myself. But I’ve been a jock my whole life, from age ten when I beat all the boys and won Long Island’s NFL Punt, Pass, and Kick contest, telling my dad I was going to be the first girl ever to quarterback the Jets. I remember him grinning and saying, “Honey, we’ve had plenty of those on the Jets since Joe Namath was our QB.”
Later I was Hockey East Rookie of the Year at BC. That was also where I really learned how to fight. And haven’t stopped since. Fighting for rich clients, not-so-rich ones, fighting when I’m doing pro bono work back in the city for victims who deserve a chance. And deserve being repped by somebody like me. Fighting with prosecutors, judges, even the cops sometimes, as much as I generally love cops, maybe because of an ex-cop like Jimmy Cunniff. Occasionally fighting with two husbands.
Makes no difference to me.
You want to have a fight?
Let’s drop the gloves and do this.
I’m feeling it even more than usual tonight, pushing myself, hitting my targets like a champion. I stop at the end of the trail, kneel, empty the gun one final time. Twelve hundred BBs fired in all.