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Jack & Jill (Part Seventeen)

The hill didn’t look hard to climb, but that was a bit deceptive. There was a steep incline on three sides, and a nice shallow walk up on the other. We saw Cole doing his best to run up the shallow side and I fired a shot at him. There was a puff of dirt about three feet away, which wasn’t bad at the distance I was at and using a hand gun. He turned and fired a wild barrage at us, not hitting much of anything as far as I can tell. We ran up after him, which could have caused trouble. I went around one of the steeper sides and started up it. It wasn’t so steep that I needed to climb with my hands, but it was steep enough to cause trouble.

Cole was sitting at the top of the hill, waiting for us to come up the easy side. I looked at him as Jill got to the top with me. The hill top was barren of cover besides a single maple tree, and Cole didn’t even have the brains to try and climb it. Jill and I started to walk towards him, having come all this way to collect this bucket of piss we’d have to get him.

“Cole?” I asked aloud and he spun around.

He’d been crying, he was still sobbing in fact, wiping his face when he saw us. He couldn’t see very well though, and he was not even beginning to have composure. It made me feel even worse about everything to see him blubber. I could have killed him if he was defiant, but sobbing like a little bitch sapped the rage out of me.

“You ain’t gonna take me in.” He cried, aiming his gun at where he assumed I was through his tears.

“Cole! Will you stop you fucking idiot? It’s over! You’re done” I yelled at him. “Drop the gun and I won’t have to kill you here on this hill.”

“You ain’t taking me in on a kiddie rap.” Cole growled at me, his gun still trained away from us. “You know what they do to guys on that charge up in Jackson?”

“I know you’re looking at murder and human trafficking.” I told him. “And they’ll either put you in a Texas jail for what you did to the Mexicans, along with a whole lot of angry Mexicans or they’ll put you in a Georgia jail for murder and you can ride old sparky to hell. You’ll die if they send you to either part of the south. You’re a big guy though. You could fight off the guys who’ve got a thing against child molesters in Jackson.”

“Fuck you.” He said as a well reasoned response and he fired a round which went into space.

“Your choice.” I wasn’t going to wait for him to get his bearings and shoot me. I aimed at his right hip and let the Webley do the thing it was made for.

The sound of a gun is never as loud or as booming as the movies make them sound. In fact, outside they’re positively quiet. It’s a sharp noise, lots of treble, and microphones never get it right. He hopped and shouted as the round punched through flesh and bone. I rushed him, hitting his gun hand with the butt of my revolver and then smacking his chest with my shoulder. He went over in a heap on the ground and then rolled onto his side, clutching at his hip. An entire second may have gone by, but I aged an entire year in that time.

“You fucking idiot.” I growled.

“Kill him!” Jill shouted with sudden ferocity.

“What?” I asked, as if this were an entirely new an unexplored idea.

“Kill him!” She repeated. “He raped me, you should kill him for that.”

There was logic to that, but suddenly I didn’t want him dead. I can’t explain why exactly, but I didn’t want to kill him. I wanted him to have a nice long stretch in the cooler. During that time, he might be inclined to tell me what the hell had been going on. I was still pretty much in the dark about that.

“No.” I shook my head. “I don’t need to, he’s done.”

“Kill him Jack!” She nearly screamed. “Kill him so we can be together.”

“What?” I turned to her and let my gun arm go down to my side.

Had my mother been around, she would have told me that this was my problem, I always lower my gun at the wrong time. That had been my mistake the last time I’d been shot too. My mother wasn’t around though, so she couldn’t help me this time.

“Once he’s dead, you can take over for him.” She said, sounding desperate. “You’ll be my new owner and it’ll be perfect. You can make love to me instead of just fucking me.”

“Uh, no.” I shook my head. “That’s not how it works.”

“Why not?” She looked confused and bewildered.

“Because you’re too young.” I said, trying not to sound like she’d just smacked me in the face with a carp.

“Well I’ll grow up soon.” She smiled. “We can be together then.”

“You’ll still be…” I shouldn’t have trailed off. I should have kept talking, telling her how I had a daughter almost her age, letting her realize what I meant was a bad idea because she thought I meant something else.

“It’s because I’m not pure isn’t it?” She started to cry. “I can’t help that he soiled me. I didn’t want him to.”

“It’s not that.” I said, using my reassuring voice. “You’re less than half my age though. I’ll be too old for you when you’re old enough for me.”

There were sirens in the distance, and I could see flashing red and blue lights coming toward us. I was so close to everything being alright, so close to being out of this situation. This whole thing was way too close to the end for it to all fly apart now. It wasn’t fair that I was five minutes away from the goal only to have things go wrong now. Odysseus was perhaps the only person who might understand the feeling that I was experiencing at that point. I wasn’t being blown off course when in sight of Ithaca for the third or fourth time, I was even closer to the goal than he’d been, and everything was about to go to shit.

“Stop lying!” She screamed and the tears poured down her face. “Stop it!”

“I’m not lying.” I said walking towards her. “But you’ll realize when you’re older that you don’t want me.”

“Stop lying to me!” She fell to her knees and Cole’s big forty-five was right in front of her. She picked it up and pointed it at me. “Can’t you see how much I love you?”

“Jill?” Was all I got out before she started shooting.

Four rounds tore through me, much faster than any gun can shoot. All four bullets went through at once, and I felt like I’d been shot again. That would make it seven times that I’ve been hit. She may have screamed, she may have dropped the gun, she may have said she was sorry, but you can’t prove it by me. I looked down and found I was covered in blood, a small puddle of the stuff had form at my feet, looking like dark strawberry syrup from a Dairy Queen sundae. Why I didn’t collapse might be a mystery to you, but not to me. It was Michigan. This state wasn’t going to let me die so easily.

I do know that the Webley dropped from my fingers because the thud it made when it hit the ground was the loudest and deepest boom since the dinosaurs stopped shaking the earth with their steps. I walked three whole paces before the hill sloped away and I ran out of level ground. My leg still tried to walk upright, and I fell down the hill.

My body tumbled and spun and then Michigan put a big rock in my path, or possibly threw it at me. Who can tell? What I know is that a rock like object smacked into the back of my head and my descent ended. I could tell that I’d broken my skull, and that my brains were leaking out.

There were sirens in the far off distance, possibly as much as ten feet away. I heard shouts and feet tramping and a few more screams from Jill. I managed to see her at the top of the hill and then watched as she fell towards me. She tumbled down the hill and bumped into my side. I felt her fingers on my face and her lips pressing against mine. I knew I should have pushed her off, because not doing it was encouraging a wrong behavior, but I couldn’t actually feel my hands to do it.

She told me she was sorry, but she was a million miles away and sound doesn’t carry that far. The vibrations of the air don’t permit that kind of distance. I knew what she was saying, but I couldn’t actually hear her. I could feel her breath, but I couldn’t smell her or hear her and my vision was growing too dark for me to see her. I felt her breath on my skin though, and I could feel her weight on my chest. A soft, warm tear dropped on my face, but I couldn’t move to brush it away.

The world was fading away, I couldn’t seem to move any part of me. I felt Jill, but I couldn’t feel the ground or the stone that had drilled its way into my brain. I could just feel this little girl and her breath and nothing else. After a while, I couldn’t even feel her. There was just me, all alone in some tough guy nether world.

Just this once I decided it would be okay to pass out.


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