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Danine, Part 14
by joseph   November 10, 2005

stripper We know the yard in back, and so that's how we get in. We climb up the hill. Jack's not breathing hard at all, but my lungs are burning and my legs feel like stones. He looks at me, and I can tell that he's thinking I'm not cut out for this, that I've dragged everyone into this mess and now I can't even help straighten it out. And so I take a deep gulp of air and nod at him.

We don't have a plan, and so we don't try to figure out if we're following it or not. We split up running through the yard. I go around and stay on the grass, which has been baked and killed by the August sun. Jack cuts through the garden and arrives at the back porch a little before I do. He creeps up the steps and I follow. There's a huge sliding glass door, but the blinds on it are drawn.

Jack reaches out and tests the handle. The door is locked. Over in the corner of the porch there's a wrought-iron chair. Jack points to it, and I stick my .38 as far in my pocket as it will go, walk over and pick up the thing. It's heavy, and I only manage to drag it a little. I get a new hold on it and lift it. I'm walking back over to Jack when there's a rustling in the blinds on the other side, and Jack and I look and see Davidson casually pulling back the blinds to look outside. His hands are on the pullstring when he sees us, but in less than a second his hand is on the revolver in his shoulder holster--they're waiting for us. He pulls out the gun and points it at Jack, and at the same time Jack takes his shotgun and points it at Davidson. Both shots come at the same time, and I lose control of the chair and it falls to the ground as the sliding glass door shatters into pieces, showering shards of glass all over the porch and into the kitchen. Davidson has fallen back into the hallway, but Jack's right on top of him, and he's inside and firing another blast. I look inside. Past the kitchen, there's a hallway that extends left and right, and on the other side there's a large entryway. Davidson fires three shots from the hallway, but Jack gets behind the fridge. I'm still outside, waiting to see what's going to happen. My gun is out and in my hands, but most of me doesn't want to move.

"You dumb assholes, what the fuck are you doing?" Davidson yells. He starts to run down the hall to the left, but Jack fires another shot into the wall, and Davidson scrambles back the other way. Jack turns around.

"Get in here. Go after him. I'll go down the other hall. Find the girls," he says and snakes his way along the wall. He fires a blast down after Davidson. "Go!"

I do. I'm tired. I want to drop down right there and fall asleep, just curl up on the grass or even on the kitchen floor. But I go. My hands are shaking, and I see the tip of the pistol vibrating. The house is dark inside. I hear Jack's footsteps going down the hallway, and I walk down the other way.

I listen, creeping down past closed doors. Then I hear it, the scraping of wood, a drawer being opened, and I get up against the edge of the door. I take out the other gun and stand there with both in my hands, not sure what to do next. He knows someone's coming after him. If I open the door I'm dead. My heart is pounding against my chest like it's about to pop out, and I'm sure that he can hear it through the door. There's a shot, and I see a bullet hole in the door. I hear it whistle as it sinks into the wall over my head.

I stand up and empty Calvin's pistol into the door, straight back, along the same path the bullet had come out. Eight shots come out. I hear a cry from inside, and the scattering of papers. I give the door a solid kick, right above the doorknob the way Jack had done it, but the door doesn't budge, and instead I feel like I broke my ankle. I reach down and turn the knob. It opens.

I elbow the door open and burst in, my revolver stuck straight out. It's an office, with more great big windows with curtains covering every square inch of them; there's one of those desks the size of two tables against one wall. Davidson's on the floor holding one knee. His pistol's about two feet from him; when he sees me, he goes for it, but I get to it and put a foot on it. He has it by the handle but I kick at his arm with my other foot and he goes back. He tries to pick himself up but drops back down onto the floor. There's a big stain of blood on the carpet, and I see where the bullet caught him on his knee.

"Jesus Christ," he says, over and over, and that's all he says for a while, holding his knee. Then he takes a deep breath and looks up at me. I reach down and pick up his gun. Since I've already got two, I throw Calvin's gun into the corner and put his in my pocket. His is heavy, only a .22 but a good one. Still, I'm used to my .38 and I figure from here on in it won't take a real good shot.

"Goddamnit," he says. "It didn't have to be like this, you know. That moronic cocksucker Calvin, Jesus. He's the one that started all this."

"I guess that's always the way it works."

"It's your own fault, you know," he says. He tries to pick himself up again and this time does it, gets himself into a chair on the other side of the desk and reaches out toward the decanter of booze on the desk. "Can I have a drink?"

I shake my head, reach out and pour him one myself. The last thing I need is him flinging a crystal pitcher at my head. He takes the glass in his fingers, and I see they're pale. He downs it and I pour some more. "Fuckin' A, that hurts, you know that?"

"I guess," I say. "You know what I don't understand? I don't understand why you've got all these windows in here yet you never draw the curtains back? Why have a bunch of windows if you never let the sun in?"

"Listen, what is it you want? It doesn't have to be like this, does it? I'm the richest man you've ever known, you know what I'm saying? Where is it you want to go? What is it you want to do?" he says. He's getting excited now, thinking that he's got me, that he's saved himself. "Just tell me what it is you want."

"I want her," I say.

"Her? You mean that fucking bitch that got you in this mess?" He leans forward and looks at me, then sits back and lets out a laugh. "Jesus, nothing to it. She's yours. Take her."

I shake my head. "That's not what I mean," I say, and I shoot him.

I have a drink then, too, but I don't much care for the stuff, although I'm sure it's expensive. Then I check the ammo in his .22 and head back into the hallway to look for Jack.

There's a shot, then another. I hear a scream, and though I can't really tell it sounds like Danine. I pull out both guns and run down the hall. There's another shot on my way there, then the blast of a shotgun, which echoes through the house and rattles the windows. Through the open door at the other side of the house I can see a sunken living room. Danine and Rebecca are on their hands and knees behind the couch; Danine's got her face buried in her hands. There's a shattering of glass, and I burst into the room with both guns aimed low, ready to fire into the brim of the first ten-gallon hat I see.

It's over when I get inside. Martin's on the floor, even though his cowboy hat's still on. There's a shattered mirror behind him, and Jack's got the shotgun and Martin's pistol aimed straight at him.

"Motherfuckers," Martin says.

"Shut up," Jack tells him, and he does. Jack looks at me. "You find Davidson?"

I nod, and Jack nods back at me. Rebecca stands up from behind the couch. She's got a bad cut on her right cheek and a bruise on her eye, like someone took a hard swipe at that side of her face. Jack looks over at her. "You okay?" She nods. Danine gets up then, too, and we look at each other. She's still got on her University of Houston sweatshirt, and I wonder if she's even got any other clothes. "He do this to you?" Jack asks.

She shakes her head. "It doesn't matter."

"I think you should take them outside," Jack says. Martin doesn't say nothing, just stares at Danine as I help her up from the couch. She sinks a little into my arm, but only for a second, then she walks out of the room ahead of me. There's a thin glow starting to light up the curtains.

"Dad . . . " Rebecca starts, but then she looks down at the ground and doesn't say anything. I come over and help her get up. She puts her arm around me, and she's limping, but she seems okay as we walk out the door.

I shut the door behind us, and we walk down the long hall to the front door. I see Danine stop and go into the guest bedroom, pick up her duffel and come back out. She sees me look at her as she comes back out. She holds up the bag for me to see. "Everything I own is in here."


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