Snowbird Sonata


Snowbird Sonata

It sounds awkward when people say death is a part of life.

But, when you think about it, isn’t death more a part of life than birth?

Abortion, miscarriage…being born at all is a really just dumb luck.

And when you think about who we become. About how we all react to things differently, feel differently about things…

You being born you was a statistical anomaly.

But everybody dies.


Death and taxes.

And, if everyone is going to die anyway, what’s the big deal?

What’s the difference if they get hit by a car or…

I dunno, but that’s what went through my mind when Richard let Cal drop to the concrete,  a red, wet slump.

I lit a cigarette to keep my hands from shaking, drew hard and inhaled deep. Took a long time to exhale.

“Don’t fuck with me.” Richard’s voice was deep and thick and rich, resonating in the dark room. The kind of voice that could inspire dreams or command nightmares.

A bare bulb swung from a wire at the ceiling, throwing our shadows across mossy stone.

I didn’t say anything. Didn’t look at him.

Didn’t look at Cal, bleeding there on the floor.

He was still alive, whimpering like a wounded dog.

“Do you hear me?” A command.

I flicked my eyes at Richard. “Yeah,” I told him, my voice harsh and low. “Yeah, I heard you.”

He smiled, his teeth unnaturally white in the gloom. “Good. That’s very good.”

Richard slipped the dark gloves from his hands and folded them carefully, tucking them into the breast of his blazer.

“How long do I have?” I asked him.

He pulled at his fingers, popping them, the knuckles swollen. The smile, the smirk, the sneer never left his lips. “No rush,” he told me, patting me gently on the cheek. And then he fixed me with eyes like glaciers, a threat in his voice, “Just don’t take too long.” He lightened some, “I’ll be sending someone by eventually to check up on you. Make sure you’re making…progress.”

“How much is it now?” I asked him, looking at my cigarette so I wouldn’t have to stare into the hard coldness of his eyes.

“One hundred and seventy-three thousand.”

I drew on my cigarette again, waiting for him to leave.

He did finally, his alligator boots clacking against the concrete steps.

I stood there, not moving for a long time.

There was a cough from the darkness, just beyond the reach of the swinging light. Then a breathy, wheezing voice, like curdled cream, “I’m…sorry.”

I dropped my cigarette, grinding it out with a toe. “Don’t worry about it, Jacob.”

“I had…matters to attend to,” he said, not stepping out of the darkness. His voice ricocheted off the walls, and I couldn’t really tell where he was.

“It’s alright,” I said softly. My hands were still shaking. “Get Cal to a hospital?”

There was a soft grunt of affirmation.

“You think you could take care of Albright for me?”

A long pause. “Richard Albright is a very…protected man.”

Meaning, No, I can’t kill him. You have to pay him his money.

“Fine,” I told him. I lit another cigarette, thinking.

“How will you…get the money?” Jacob asked.

“I don’t know. I can call in a few debts, maybe raise about twenty.”

“That’s…nowhere near enough.”

No shit. “Got any suggestions?”

There was no answer.

When I looked up, Cal was gone, too.


“So you need a score,” Andrew was saying.

I took a long pull from my rum and coke, nodded and mumbled, “Mm-hm.”

“We could pull a bank job.”

I frowned at him over my cigarette, resting the glass down with a thud.

“What?” he asked.

“Bank jobs are for junkies. I’m a professional, Drew. I’m a thief.”

“Yeah, wait, but-”

“No, no. The take is too small, the risk is too big. It’s such a shit score, the cops don’t even bother checking for prints.”

“That’s because there are too many people in and out of there all of the time. They can’t get a clean pull.”

“Whatever. If you want any money with shit like that you’d have to go for an armored car. And even then, you might have to kill someone.”

He shrugged. “You have a problem with that?”

I took a long drag, held the smoke in. I let it cloud everything, clear everything. “If we had an inside man…”

“For the armored car?”

“For the bank. If we had an inside man, we could score something big from the vault.”

“Yeah, but you split the take further.”

I drank from my glass. “Yeah, but with a score like that, it wouldn’t  really matter.”

He gave a soft, “Heh.”


“My sister’s boyfriend works at Central Pacific.”

It was raining, hard.

White lightening forked across the night sky, rain fighting pavement in a battle it wouldn’t  win.

I dropped quarters into the payphone, punching a number from memory.

Jacob picked up on the third ring, not speaking.

“I might have something. Get Albright off my back.”

He made a soft sound to tell me he was listening.

“It’s a bank, and the take’ll be split five ways, but-”

“Monaco,” he said, and the line went dead.

His club.

It was still raining when I got there.

I tossed a nod at the doorman and he moved the velvet rope to let me in.

Some never-gonna-get-out-of-town band was pulling a Limp Bizkit cover, and I moved through the surging throng of dancers and made my way to the bar.

I lit a cigarette, rapping my knuckles to get Royce’s attention.

He nodded at me, mixed me a rum and coke.

I held it against my temple, resting an elbow on the bar.

Three cigarettes and another drink later Jacob showed behind me.

I didn’t hear him, just felt the change in the air. Like someone turned up the A/C.

“Hey,” I mumbled.

He sat at the stool beside me.

Royce placed a glass of something clear in front of him. Gently. Reverently.

I couldn’t tell if it was vodka or water, and nothing showed on jis face when he took a sip.

We finished our drinks in silence, smoking through a couple more cigarettes until he got up moved toward a far corner of the room.

I followed, and we made our way to a heavy, oak door behind shadows.

The noise outside muffled.

Jacob sat behind a clear, varnished desk, leaning back in his chair, lighting a smoke.

I lit one of my own, sitting at the chair in front of him.

“So,” he said softly, his curdled cream voice carrying evenly. “This is how you intend to…alleviate your monetary issue? A bank job?”

“It’s not a stick-up,” I said. I leaned forward and flicked ash into the tin tray on his desk. “The take is split five ways; you, me, Andrew, his sister, and her boyfriend.”

His eyebrow rose.

“Inside man.”

He took a thoughtful drag. Exhaled, tapping ash into the tray. “If the…take is split even-”

“I know,” I said softly. “Almost nine-hundred large to cover my debt.”

Jacob nodded slowly, resting his cigarette on the lip of the ashtray and leaning back in his chair. He made a steeple of his fingers, resting an elbow on each arm of the chair. “Tell me how you…got into Albright in the first place. Let alone for so much.”

My eyes fell, smoke dancing between us like specters.

“I only ask,” he amended, “because you are usually so…careful. It seems…out of character.” Talking seemed to take so much out of him, like he didn’t have the energy. But I’d seen the man work; quick and silent and deadly.

“Cal,” I said softly, and I didn’t say anything else.

He nodded, telling me to go on.

I wasn’t going to.

“This…bank job will…take a while. Won’t it?”

I nodded.

“What is your…deadline for coming up with the…money.”

I stubbed my cigarette out in the ashtray, lit another. “Soon.”

“I know that it won’t be enough…but if you’re interested in…alleviating some of the tension…Giles may have a job he can…throw your way.” He paused to catch his breath. I’d never heard him say so much at once.

“Thanks,” I told him. “You in for the bank job, though?”

His eyes shifted.

 I’d hurt him by asking.


I made my way through the redbrick alley.

A rust-colored door to one side.

Men materialized as soon as had the door open. Taller than me, built more solid, like they spent too much time at the gym.

They didn’t try to hide the shoulder holsters under their suit jackets.

“What’s the password?” one of them asked.

“How about ‘Don’t fuck with me?’ ”

The one who didn’t talk stepped forward and growled.

“I’m here to see Giles.”

Neither of them said anything.

“He fucking sent for me, alright?”

They finally stepped aside, still silent, let me walk between them.

Padded booths lined the walls of the smoke-filled room, and Johnny Lang pumped through hidden speakers, wailing.

I could feel it moving the earth under my boots.

I moved past the dancers by the juke box, ordered a drink from the scarred, mahogany bar.

Giles was at his booth over to one corner of the room.

He wore a black leather blazer over a black turtleneck. There was a slash of white across his dark cheek, from when he was a kid and someone came at him with a box-cutter.

We shook hands.

I wasn’t happy to ask “You called me for..?”

“A job.” He lit the cigarette. “Word is, you’ve been having some money problems.”

” What’s the job?”

“A priest. Can’t keep his goddamned hands…”

“I’m a thief. I don’t do people.”

He shrugged. “You ain’t gonna have to. Jacob’s doing it all. You’re just gonna…stand guard, kinda. Look I’m doing you a favor here, ’cause you’re Jacob’s boy, and he’s my man.”

Fine, something hot behind my eyes. “How much?”

“Forty. Minus my fifteen percent.”

Smoke areound me like a sheild. “I thought you’re fee was ten.”


Jacob pulled a prescription bottle and a little airplane bottle of Jack Daniels from the glove box.

Tapped two white pills into his hand.

Codeine, maybe,  but I couldn’t be sure.

Hand to mouth, a long pull from the Jack.

I could feel the shudder that ran down his spine.

“Okay ramblers,” Jacob said softly. He pulled his dark hair out of its ponytail, and it fell to change his face. His eyes were ball bearings; hard and cold.

I dug into my pocket, pulling out a handful bullets; slipping them in the revolver one-by-one.

The hammerless .38 was all dull blued steel, the butt wrapped in black electrical tape.

Spun the cylinder and snapped it closed with the flick of my wrist.

I took a deep breath, let it out slow. “Let’s play.”

We made our way to the two story Tudor.

It was raining, hard.

White lightening flashed, and then thunder, like someone falling down a flight of stairs.

I pulled someone’s driver’s license from my wallet, easing it between the lock and jamb of the door.

Leaned hard on the knob, pushing it toward the hinges.

The edge of the license caught the slope of the spring lock and snapped it back with a sound like ice cracking.

The door swung open, easy.

The priest was maybe fifty, but looked older. Mottled skin and yellow eyes.

Jacob hit him twice in the stomach and once in the face, arms so fast they blurred.

I pulled out the revolver, and made the priest get down on his knees.

Jacob got real close to his ear and whispered something I couldn’t hear.

I thik I was lucky for that.

We were there for a long time.

I stood watch by the door while Jacob took the old man up stairs.

Muffled noises cascaded towards me, and I turned on the old man’s stereo, Schobert drowning out what I felt in the pit of my stomach.

When Jacob came back downstairs he was alone and his hair was all mussed and matted to his head with sweat.

Not a drop of blood on him, but I knew the room would be splattered.

Jacob told me to keep the .38; said it was some cop’s throwdown piece. Said I’d probably need it, anyway, if I was mixed up with Albright.

I thanked him, and he dropped me off at my apartment, handing me a thick white envelope.

I opened it when I got inside, thumbing through the cash.

Forty minus Giles’ fifteen percent. Split that between me and Jacob and I had seventeen thousand to play with.

No where near enough to get Albright off my back.

I either needed a lot more little jobs, or one real big one.

I went to shut the door with my foot and a rough hand clamped on my shoulder, tearing me around.

He was short and made of muscle. Harsh brown eyes, a cigar wedged between his teeth, lips twisted in a perpetual sneer. He looked like a shark in his dark suit and burgundy tie.

News travels fast.

“Heard you got paid,” his voice was harsh, cigarette-hurt.

“Yeah,” I told him. “But not enough to-”

He told me to shut up.

Snatched the envelope out of my hands and shoved it into his pocket.

Told me I’d better have a lot more than that the next time he came back.

“I’m working on something,” I assured him.

He snorted, told me it’d better be something big.

Said, maybe I needed something to remind me of how serious this was.

“That’s really not necessary.”

A cruel smile broke over his face. “Well, I think it is…”


Cal got out of the hospital the next week, and I let him stay at my apartment.

They’d locked him out of his room at the flop-house off of Lewars St.

Cal’s long, white fingers were nervous, shakily rolling back a sleeve.

His arm was all sinewy and veiny, peppered with track marks.

He tied a thick, rubber tube around his forearm, tugging it hard and holding it with his teeth.

Jammed the needle into a bulging vein, his thumb sliding the plunger down.

He shuddered, eyes rolling back into his head, and he sank into his overstuffed chair with a long, rattled sigh.

I lit a cigarette, the smoke curling around us in wisps. “Jesus, Cal,” I mumbled. “Why do you do this to yourself?”

His eyes flashed open, bright and alert. He braced an elbows on the arm of the chair chin resting in his hand. He smiled at me, this cocky little smile where he only really moved half his face. “Why do you smoke?” he asked me. “Why do you eat, drink, sleep, breathe?”

I frowned at him. “Smoking, shooting up and breathing have nothing to do with each other.”

“Oh, but they do,” he said. “Skinner, I believe it was Skinner, talked about…um…in-instinctoid needs. Of needs that, that had to be fulfilled for us to…survive.”

He was thinking of Maslow, but I didn’t want to interrupt.

“Eating and drinking and sleeping,” he paused. “What happened to your face?”

I shrugged.

So did he. “Well, anyway, these are all…obvious needs. But, but Skinner also said we need love, and security and safety. But…but when, when you become…used to something-”

He stopped suddenly, focusing on something I couldn’t see, probably would never see. And then he started again, “When you get used to something, I-I guess you’d say addicted…that isn’t the right word, but…but it’ll do. When you get addicted to something, you need it. Or else you hurt without it, and you, and you…”

I offered him a cigarette, and his eyes widened, a smile breaking out over his face. A real smile this time, not a jackass one.

He took the cigarette, and I let him light it off the burning tip of mine.

Cal took a long, deep drag, and sank back into his chair, exhaling slowly.

He watched the smoke, transfixed as it curled and danced and played around us. “Beautiful,” he whispered. And then, “Jesus, I’m thirsty.”

I pulled the bottle of water from beside my chair, tossed it to him.

He unscrewed the cap, guzzled it down.

“You wanna listen to music?” I asked him.

He finished off the water, handed me the bottle. “Yeah, sure.”

I moved to the kitchen to refill the bottle. “Coldplay or Floyd?” I asked him.

Richard showed up at my door himself this time.

My eyes flicked towards his hands.

He wasn’t wearing his dark gloves.

“I have a proposition for you,” he told me, when I opened the door. “May I come in?”


He laughed the kind of laugh that means you’re wearing thin on patience.

I opened the door all the way and let him in.

Cal wasn’t in the den, but I knew he was close, listening.

Richard and I sat across from each other.

I didn’t offer him a drink.

We stared at each other for a long time.

Well, he stared at me.

I stared at the little gleaming dot of his tiepin.

“I have a problem,” he said, finally.

I made a noise in my throat to let him know I as listening.

“There is a police officer, a detective Clayton Barley, who has made me his…pet project.”

I lit a cigarette, knowing where this was going, and not liking it.

“You will take care of this for me. In return, I will erase your friend’s debt.”

I took a deep drag, not looking at him anymore.

“Naturally, I will require proof of some sort.”

“Naturally,” I mumbled.

His glacier eyes narrowed to bullet tips. “I want you to bring me his thumb.”

The clock read 3:08 AM in angry, red glowing letters. It bathed the room in a strange, faint glow.

The pillow was too hot.

I turned it over.

3:11 AM.

The sheets were rough and itchy and too hot, and I kicked them off.

Then I was cold, so I drew them up to my chin and dealt with it.

I could hear Cal in the next room, fidgeting, licking his lips, talking to himself.

I think he was still talking about Skinner.

I wanted to smother him with a pillow.

3:29 AM.

My eyes ached. I closed them and I lay there.

I was going to get sleeping pills in the morning.

I lit a cigarette, drawing one leg close and staring out over the water.

“We had to do it,” Cal was saying. “W-we had no choice.”

I took a long drag, let it burn away everything till I was all darkness and faux fullness inside.

Fucking bastard. We didn’t have to do shit. We didn’t have to…

“I know, Cal,” I told him softly. “We didn’t have a choice.”

There’s always a choice.

You always have a fucking choice.

I wanted to scream.

At him.

At me.

I wanted to tear at my chest.

To pull apart the skin and break past bone and flesh and spill the darkness onto the grass.

I wanted to puke all the evil away.

Purge the thoughts.

Burn it all.

I wanted to die, and I wanted Cal to die, ’cause this was all his fucking fault.

But I just sat there, one leg drawn close, and I smoked my cigarette.

And when it was done, I flicked the butt into the water and lit another.

I heard the crinkle of a paper bag as Cal pulled out the bottle of whiskey.

Heard the metallic hiss-scrape of the cap being unscrewed.

He took a long, heart-wrenching slug of it, and coughed like a drowning man.

“Fuck,” he sputtered, all wet and sloppy and choky. “Here.”

He handed me the bottle, and I threw my head back, making a tunnel of my mouth and throat, and I let the amber liquid scorch its way down.

I still got that metallically, battery-acid taste in my mouth, and I took a deep drag of the cigarette to cover it up. “Tastes like shit,” I told him.

“Yeah,” he mumbled, taking the bottle back.

I heard him take a faggy little hit, the kind where you barely get any past your lips.


I hated him.

For everything.

For dragging me into all of this.

For acting like he had no choice.

And for not…I dunno, brooding with me.

For not suffering like I was.

Oh, he felt bad, yeah.

He had to do what he did.

And he had to watch me…finish…it.

So, yeah. Yeah, he felt bad.

But I felt dead.

I felt like…like I’d lost a spark inside. The spark that made me alright.

And I had lost it when I…did what I did.

And it had been replaced with…darkness. With darkness and depravity and hate.

This hate that was so tainted it was pure. So cold it was hot.

And I felt lonely and scared and angry, and I fucking hated that bastard Cal for it.

Because he was gonna be all fine and fucking dandy the next day, and I’d lost my fucking soul.

I let the cigarette fall to the grass, and I drew both legs into my chest, resting my head on my knees.

And I cried.

Cal moved out.

Found an actual apartment.

I sat there, a cigarette in one hand, a beer in the other.

The smoke had a blue tint in the light as it drifted and curled around me, hugging me, shielding me.

I stared at the wall, letting my eyes go out of focus and then forcing them back, even clearer and sharper than before.

And Cal’s face floated through my mind, his voice echoing that damned, “We didn’t have a choice.”

Something in deep in my bowls moved and shifted, like it was uncomfortable, and then it settled.

I saw Cal’s face on the wall in front of me.

But it shifted and changed, growing and stretching and shrinking and fixing itself, until it was Clayton Barley.

He had a high forehead, and a crooked nose and thin lips. His face was narrow, and he had bushy eyebrows and deep-set, gray eyes.

And he was bruised and bloodied and purple, a gash across the bridge of his nose from when I hit him with the butt of his own gun.

Still don’t know why I used his gun; not the .38 Jacob gave me.

I dropped my cigarette into my beer and let it sizzle a second before setting it on the floor.

I went to the bathroom and ran the tap, splashing cold water on my face, scrubbing at it.

I took a deep breath and looked up into the mirror.

And the me in the mirror smiled at me, even though I wasn’t smiling.

It was this jackass, condescending I’m-better-than-you smile, and I didn’t even realize what was happening until my fist was buried in the mirror and glass was tinkling everywhere and my hand was bleeding.

Blood dripped into the water in the sink, tinting it red. Tainting it.

I looked at the floor, shards of mirror casting my reflection back at me a thousand times, and he was still…sneering at me.

I found a large piece and stepped on it with the tip of my shoe, slowly, making the crunching, cracking sound last.

I lit a cigarette.

Dropped it into the sink, disgusted.

The water hissed in protest, and I left the bathroom.


I got dressed, wrapping black electrical tape around my hand because I didn’t have any gauze.

I pulled up the collar on my duster and walked out into the rain, lighting a cigarette.

Found myself at Cal’s place.

I knocked on the door with my bandaged hand, leaving a smear of blood there.

I thought that was funny.

The door swung open, and Cal stood there, all disheveled and kind of broken looking.

“Can I come in?” I asked him.

He stared at me for a long time before moving to one side.

“You mind if I take a shower?” he asked.

I shook my head, and he disappeared into the bathroom.

I sank into a chair in his bedroom and smoked a cigarette, taking my time.

Cal came out in a pair of jeans and wet hair, a towel draped over one shoulder.

“What’s up?” he asked, all soft and almost embarrassed.

My hand wrapped around the roll of quarters in my pocket, and I trained my eye on his Adam’s Apple. “Do you have it?” I asked him.

His eyes flashed towards the dresser, towards the jewelry box resting on it.

It occurred to me to ask why a guy needed a jewelry box, but I didn’t really care.

I moved towards the dresser, keeping my eyes off the mirror; gently lifted the lid of the box.

The thumb was all pale and fresh and clean looking, the nail neatly manicured.

“Did you fucking wash this?” I asked him.

I saw him shrug out of the corner of my eye. “What? It stank. Yeah, I washed it.”

“And cut its nail?”

“What the fuck is this about?”

I lit a cigarette, turning toward him. “I’m taking it to Albright. Tonight.”

“What?” His bottom lip trembled for a minute, and when he finally found his voice, “A-alright. We’ll go tonight. I just thought that…we had until Monday, so…”

I stared at him, cold and hard and unmoving.

He got a shirt out of his closet, and didn’t say anything else.

I finally looked at the mirror.

The me in the mirror had cold, well-dark eyes.

And he smiled at me, low and mean, and the smile never touched those eyes.

The rain hit like fists pounding on the roof of Cal’s car.

The car ride was quiet. Tense.

Back in the basement, where Richard nearly killed Cal.

It was like no time had passed.

The light bulb still swung, agonizingly slow.

Our shadows still moved around us, devious.

Richard was wearing his gloves. “Well?” his voice bounced across the mossy stone that surrounded us.

I tossed Cal’s jewelry box at him, and his caught it with a stunned look.

He opened the box, made a face at what was inside.

“Did you clean this?” he asked me.

I shrugged. “We did what you wanted. Can we go?”

“You boys did a nice job,” he said, like I hadn’t spoken. That smile, that smirk, that sneer spread across his face again, and I wanted to hit him so bad I could feel his cheekbone crush underneath my knuckle. “Do you think,” he said, “maybe you want to…do some more work for me? The pay is-”

“No,” I told him flatly. “We’re not going to be having anymore business with you.” I shot a look at Cal, and he recoiled. “At all.”

“Well, look gentlemen,” he said softly. “You must understand the…position this puts me in.”

I lit a cigarette, knew what was coming.

“You kind of have me by the short-hairs. If you get antsy or pissy or just have a bad day, you might run to the cops. And then, where’d that leave me?”

 “We’re criminals.” I paused. “Like you.” Let the punch set in. “We wouldn’t talking to cops.”

“Well you’re ghostly friend seems to be pretty tight with them. That throwdown piece he gave you? Came from Barley.”

It stunned me.

He knew about Jacob. Maybe about my part with the priest.

I took a long drag on my cigarette, flicked it into the darkness.

The little dot fought against the gloom until something snuffed it out.

For a second I thought maybe Jacob had followed us.

But the guy who stepped out of the shadows was the same shark who shook me down for seventeen grand.

“I can’t let you go,” Richard said, solemn, not smirking anymore.

“We had a deal,” I told him, jaw clenched so tight my face hurt.

“And I’ve honored it,” he said. “You don’t owe me a goddamned cent.”

The shark came at me first, ignoring Cal.

I threw an elbow across his face.

He rolled with it, throwing a fist into the side of my neck. Got close and kneed me in the groin.

I grunted, going down, and he hit me across the face.

Cal grabbed him, pulling him off of me, and I saw the blade flash just before the shark stabbed him.

Cal grunted, and the knife rammed into him again and again.

I drove forward, dropping my shoulder, and tackled the shark.

We hit the concrete hard, and the knife scattered across the floor.

I took out the Barley’s throwdown .38 and whipped it across the sharks face.

Beat his nose flat into his face, hitting him over and over until the bones in his skull were all mush, and white and red leaked onto the floor.

A gun went off behind me.

I whipped my head toward the noise.

Richard had a piece-of-shit .25, still smoking in his fist.

He’d shot Cal in the head.

We moved at the same time, barrels locking on each other.

Three heartbeats, but it felt like an eternity before I saw his finger tighten on the trigger.

We both fired.

I hit him in the shoulder, took a bullet in the gut.

I dodged into the shadows on one side of the room

Richard threw himself into the darkness on the other. “Well ain’t that a fine kettle of fish,” his voice boomed. “You fucking shot me.”

“You shot me, too.”

The bare bulb swung and I caught the tip of his shoe in the light.

I fired into the darkness across from me.

“Missed,” He said, soft.

I swore under my breath, dodging to the left, staying in the shadows. “Blow me.”

He fired twice, wildly, hoping to get lucky.

“You’ve got one bullet left,” I told him. “I’ve got four. You really wanna play this game?”

“Fine then,” he said. “No guns.”

His .25 slid across the floor.

I tossed my .38 out there, too.

He came out charging, going for both guns.

I went for the shark’s knife.

Richard dove forward, rolling and tucking and picking up my .38.

But the shark’s knife was already flying, and it hit him right in the throat.

He made a horrible, gurgling sound, and he fell to the concrete.

I stood up slowly, shakily.

And he managed to pull off a shot before he died.

I looked down at my chest, and red spilled out from where I thought my heart should be.

It didn’t hurt, but I fell to my knees, week and shaking and cold.

Wrapped my arms around myself and got on my side.

I closed my eyes, and fell asleep for the first time since Cal moved in with me.

With all the crap that happens, it’s a miracle any of us get born.

But dying? That’s something we all have to do.

It doesn’t matter how you die, just how you lived.

Whether you had any regrets, any I-should-haves.

Honestly, I should have let Richard just fucking kill Cal in the first place.

It would have saved me a lot of trouble.

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