I flipped over and slammed the pillow over my head, trying not to notice the clock.

11:31 p.m.

Where is Barrett?” I thought.

I’ve heard a wife’s worries are quieted by routine. But for my family, our routine is that there is rarely any routine—except that, if one of us is going to be late, we call.

My cell rang and I jumped.  It was Wilson, Barrett’s friend, law partner, mentor, and partner-in-crime.

I sat up and cleared my throat, attempting to pull myself together.

“Don’t worry,” Wilson started. “We’re at the ER, but he’s fine. He’ll just have a headache for a few hours.”

The volume of my voice rose. “What happened?”

“Ever heard of the American Sniper”? he asked.

“As in Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in American military history?”

“That’s the one. Barrett and I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with him. And towards the end as we’re joking around, Barrett challenged him to Indian leg wrestling—”

“—Indian leg wrestling?”

“Yes,” he said with an audible sigh.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the “ancient gentlemen fighting technique” of Indian leg wrestling, it’s where two players lay down on the floor head-to-toe and line up their hips. They then raise their inside leg straight up and then lower it three times, saying “1, 2, 3!” After the “3!” the combatants link their legs together at the knee and try to flip the other “wrestler” over into a forced backwards somersault.

“Will you put Barrett on the phone?” I said, with impatience.

I get it. If you look at Barrett with his charcoal suit, salmon-colored dress shirt, discreetly patterned tie, and black-rimmed glasses you might think: lawyer, Armani model, businessman—or the guy behind the perfume counter at Neiman’s. But there’s more to him. After you get past the suit, securities talk, and him correcting our 4-year old’s French, Barrett’s a third-degree black belt and a big guy, about 6-feet-3-inches and a lean 200 pounds. He can be a connoisseur of bravado, competition, and horseplay too.

Barrett fumbled with the phone. (He’s also not very coordinated.)

“Hey, Babe.” I could tell by his tone that his ego was hurt a lot more than he was.

“What in the world were you thinking?” I demanded.

“We were all joking around and someone brought up the part in his book where he said, ‘When you’re in a profession where your job is to kill people, you start getting creative.’ . . . So I challenged him to an Indian leg wrestle. To get creative.”

“How’d that end for you?”

“Oh, he choked me out in about 3 seconds. They made me come here to make sure I didn’t lose any brain cells—”

“—Because, obviously, you don’t have many more to spare.”

After a long miserable hush, he spoke. “But Chris Kyle thinks I’m cool now because of what I said when I came to.”

“And what was that?”

“I groggily motioned to Wilson and said, ‘Wilson, fight him. Fight him!’”

I laid my head down on my pillow and smiled. “Okay. But next time I hear about you challenging the deadliest man in America to a competition, it better be paper, rock, scissors.”

______________

Along with the rest of the country, we were heartbroken to hear of Chris Kyle’s death a short time later. We’ve all read about how he served our country with extreme honor. We’ve all read about how he helped his brothers and sisters dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. We’ve seen the amazing and gut-wrenching movie that shattered box office records. But Barrett had the personal privilege of getting to see another side of the legendary hero: the nice guy, the cut-up, the one that didn’t back down from a challenge. We all owe him so much.

He is “The Legend.”

And I’m pretty sure he would have won at paper, rock, scissors too.

Chris Kyle

[Wilson, Chris Kyle, and Barrett]