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St. Croix Noir Writing Challege: Death Us Part by Jim Wright

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I stepped out of the full moon, the blood moon, the crazy moon onto the porch.  Someone had put the muzzle of a pistol against the face of the door-nob and blown out the spring lock.  One shot.  I pushed the door open.  To my left was a grand staircase, to my right an archway.  Through the archway was muted light.  I heard a voice, the kind of soft, sweet voice that awakens you to the possibility of love.  I saw her, a woman you remember.  She had red hair that touched her shoulders, blue eyes, a turned-up nose and a delectable mouth.  Her body made you forget models and starlets.  Then there was the gun, still smoking, and the other body, still moving, at her feet.

“Drop the gun, I said.

“Or what?”

“I’ll shoot you,” I said, and let her see the gun.

She smiled at me.  “Duty,” she scoffed.

“Give me your gun, Grace, I’ll give you mine and you can call it in.  They’ll expect me to shoot him.”

“He’s mine to kill. I have to kill him, John.  It wasn’t just someone’s daughter, it was ours.  Our baby.  Our girl.  I’ll kill him and we can walk away from this, together.”

“Give me your gun, Grace.  Please.”  I pleaded.

“Look at yourself in that mirror, John.  Your face is a nightmare.  Eye swollen shut.  Nose broken.  Your breath sounds like there’s ribs broken, too.”  Her voice filled with contempt. “All of this to take you out of the election.”

“My favorite suit is in even worse shape.  Look.”  I took a step toward her. 

“Don’t move, Dear.  I’ll shoot you.” 

I knew her voice.  She was serious about shooting me.  “Hannah’s alive, Grace, she’s alive.”

“Alive.  You know how she’s alive.  She’ll never be the same.  She’ll never completely heal.  He did that.”  She went to a knee and put the barrel on DeGrenier’s chest.  His eyes were open and widened as they watched her finger close on the trigger.

“Don’t,” DeGrenier begged.  “Don’t.”

Grace grinned.  “I like it,” she said.  “What saves you, DeGrenier, is I want you dead, just dead.  Otherwise.”  She moved the barrel over his elbow, knee and groin.

I should have made a move, but flashed to Grace on a knee not threatening DeGrenier, but holding Hannah after she’d fallen while running or from her bicycle. I saw Grace on a knee holding Hannah when she took a soccer ball to the face.   I saw Grace in flashes, like you’re supposed to get before death, holding Hannah in every trauma or triumph small or great she’d suffered or celebrated since birth.

“You won’t kill him, I will.”  She shot DeGrenier twice, the sound muffled by contact, then stood up and faced me.  There were four tear dropped shaped red stains on her blouse.  She pointed the gun at me.

“I’m not going to prison and I’m not going to let you take the fall or the credit,” she smiled again, “for killing that bastard. You’re going to have to kill me or let me go.  If I’m any judge you’ll have to decide now.  You won’t be conscious much longer.”

“Don’t move, Grace.”              

“Or what?” She crossed the room, her gun pointed at my chest.

“Don’t make me.”  I said, wondering whether I knew the woman who was my wife.

“Make you what?”

I felt her breath against my cheek.  I pulled the trigger.

Death Us Part by Jim Wright was a submission of the St. Croix Noir Writing Challenge, part of NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley. NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. All submissions for St. Croix Noir Writing Challenge were judged by a committee of St. Croix Valley writers and readers.