He held her hand and squeezed them. She shut her eyes and opened them again, moist from tears.
“I love you and I want you to live, please,” he begged. She said nothing and he wasn’t expecting her to. Even if she wanted to, the oxygen mask wouldn’t have made it any easy. She was weak and prepped for surgery. Every part of her was weak from the anesthetics.
“Jeane,” he called her, still holding onto her hand. “Promise me you will make it alive, for us, for me.”
She nodded slightly and the cloud of tears went down her face in a single stream. August kissed her hand and moved back from the bed. The nurse wheeled her bed into the theatre.
He walked down the hall and Mary came crashing into his arms, breaking down into tears. He held her and stroked her back. He had no words of consolidation, he could only hold her and hope it was enough.
“She’ll make it,” he whispered as her body shook against his. Harry watched on from the end of the hall.
They walked to where he stood, Mary leaning on his shoulder and dragging her feet.
“She’ll be fine,” Harry reassured. August nodded, deep inside him, he blamed himself for everything and Harry saw it.
“I hope you know it’s not your fault that some asshole decided to be an asshole,” he said, looking him in the face.
“No, maybe if I had been more careful, I don’t know and I can’t say but then, Maybe if..” he broke down and stopped. “It’s all my fault.”
“It’s not your fault boy, let’s get home and change, we will be back and see how the surgery went.”
“She will live, I mean it’s just to remove some bullet right?” he asked, casting him a glance that made it look like he had a say on her survival.
“She will live,” he murmured. “we should get home, you need to change from that bloody cloth.”
The time was 9:45 pm when they got to the hospital that night. Jeane had managed to hold on to what was left of her life by a strand of hair and had managed to make it to the hospital still breathing. Harry rushed down to the hospital when he got the call from August and they had stood by her, never for once looking for a seat until all the formalities had been carried out and she was prepped for surgery to get rid of the bullet lodged in her body. Harry looked at his wrist watch and heaved a sigh.
“12 am, we should be back by 7 in the morning. You guys need some decent sleep,” he suggested. They took the suggestion and followed him out of the hospital building to the carpark.
“August, you two go before me, I will be tagging behind,” Harry said and got into his car. August and Mary got into the Audi and they drove out into the night.
They drove through the lonely street in a convoy, their headlamps lighting the dark road. Mary sat by August all numb as the events of the night replayed in her mind. Occasional tears strode down her face. He moved his hand to her face and caressed it.
“She will be fine. Tomorrow, we are going back to the hospital and she is going to be smiling back at us. And Victor is going to pay back for every single horror you have to go through, every single one of it. I swear.”
She held his hand and squeezed them. She was too weak to speak. She just held them.
Harry shot up the volume of the music in his stereo and fell deep into it’s soft rhythm. He hope it would calm his frayed nerves. After so many years, he thought he was finally going to rid his mind of the memories of Susan.
It’s been 14 years and all those whiles, there was never a night he went to bed without thinking of her and her cold absence from her own side of their bed. Her empty closet and the cold memories had lingered in their bedroom for a very long time, he was going to adjust to it until the helpless body of Jeane lying on that hospital bed tripped everything over.
He realized how vulnerable his only daughter was. Susan, his pretty wife, the only woman he had ever had to fall in love with because of her eyes. She had died giving birth to Mary and he wasn’t going to let anything happen to her. He swore to that behind the wheels.
August got down from the car and walked to the gate, his path lighted by the headlamps. The cool breeze hit his skin in a soothing way and he shook the tears from his eyes. He looked across the street and thought he saw a figure leaning on the fence but it was too dark to know, his mind could be forming things at the moment, especially when he couldn’t shake off the look on Jeane’s eyes when she fell on him. He shrugged and continued with his task of opening the gate. He got through with it and drove in, tailed by Harry.
Victor stood upright and cocked his gun. He waited for August to close the gate before he crossed the street and made his way to the gate with Matt beside him, clutching his own pistol.
“You should take your bath, I will wait for you here,” August said to Mary and she nodded slightly. He held her and walked her to her room, a room she shared with Jeane. He flicked the switch on and they stood at the door, looking around the room like they expected to find something in there.
“Go change and come to the bathroom, I will wait for you here,” he nudged her forward and she obliged. He shut the door and leaned against it, letting out a sigh and closing his eyes. It was one hell of a birthday party.
He walked to his room and lay quietly on the bed, trying to calm the throbbing sound in his head. He replayed the events of the night in his head and stopped when he got to the part of the shooting. He remembered the two deafening gunshots and this time around, he thought he heard three. He opened his eyes and became aware of his environment again. The clock on the wall placed the time at 1:04 am. He wiped his face with his hand and heard the fourth shot come from the direction of the sitting room.
The sound of a door banged shut came into the room. He jerked from his bed and reached for the drawer standing against the wall. He pulled it open and picked the loaded glock from it. He sneaked out of his door and tiptoed to the bathroom, his finger romancing the trigger. He opened the door as stealthily as he could and peeked. Mary was no longer there and everywhere was a frightening silent.
He walked down the dark corridor on tiptoes and straight into the door that led to the parlor. He stopped at the sight of a bulky figure facing him in the darkness and raised his gun. He heard a whimper and it sounded so much like Mary. He paused and took one more step. He brought his gun down a little and heard a hammer click close to his right ear.
“Drop it,” Matt said and he felt the muzzle touch the side of his head. The light came on and hit his eyes. He blinked hard and opened his eyes fully. Mary stood before him wrapped in her pink towel, Victor stood behind her, his massive hand round her neck and a pistol to her head. On the couch, beside them, Harry lay in his own pool of blood.
“Drop the damn gun!” Matt snapped again and Victor gave him a sneer, Mary sniffed and he felt the rage rise within him. He wanted to tear the both of them apart but gun sticking to her head made him have a rethink. He let the gun drop to the floor and raised both his hands.
“I told you, I will so fuck you up if you ever mess with us again,” Victor said and held Mary by the nape, pushing her closer to where August stood. He saw the look on her face, he could feel how much heavy the horror was on her and he was helpless. It made him angry to know that he was helpless against the top two people in the world he so much wanted to slit their throats out.
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“Please, it was just me, she had nothing to do with it,” he pleaded softly, his blazing eyes a trifle different from the words that came out of his mouth. Victor smiled and Matt cackled. He ran a trace on her belly with the gun and brought it up to her breast, inserting the gun muzzle into the top of her towel, just between her cleavage. She whispered and August bit his lips.
“What do you say we bring down this towel, check out what’s inside?” he asked Matt and he gave a suggestive smile.
“Wanna watch?” Matt asked August and got no reply. Victor made her kneel on the floor. She covered her face with both her hands and sobbed, her body shaking. Victor unstrapped his belt and sneered at August.
“Do not touch her, please, I’m begging you. I can’t guarantee it now but soon I will slit both your throats if you lay a finger on her,” August cried. Matt smacked him with the gun and he fell to the floor, hot blood tickling from the side of his face.
“Just watch,” Victor said and kicked Mary to the ground. She cried out and August felt an ache in his heart, he couldn’t stand and watch.
Victor pulled the towel from her body and her nakedness stared him back in the face, her tender, attractive body made him mad with lust and August raged, helplessly. Victor took one last look at August, he mocked him with his expression and let his pants fall. He launched at her and in a snap, August launched at him, flying all cautions in the wind. He jabbed a fist on his head and threw his weight against him. Victor fell back and August mounted him. He dropped two quick punches on his face before Victor grabbed his hand and Matt hit his head with the butt of his gun. He fell of Victor and his head throbbed painfully.
“Fuck you, you are dead boy,” Victor threatened and stood up, staggering from the effect of the punch. Matt pointed the two guns at August and Mary scrambled for her towel, shielding her body with it amidst constant tears. August stared up at them and his eyes moistened.
“I am going to kill you and nobody will do shit about it, you know why?” Victor asked and didn’t wait for an answer, he said:
“Because we own this town, my father runs it dumb head.”
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August knew he couldn’t do anything anymore, they were helpless and he realized they would have their way, whatever it is they wanted to do. He stared at Mary where she curled on the floor and at Harry on the suffer, swimming in his own pool of blood. He raised his head and held victor by his eyes. He gave a bold smile between the blood that was tickling down his face. He didn’t break the smile, not even when Victor pointed his own gun to his face.
“You shouldn’t have messed with my girl niggar,” Matt spoke for the first time. He wasn’t as crazy as his brother but he was mad August wrecked things between him and Genevieve. August shifted his gaze to him, the smile still on his face.
“Yea, maybe I shouldn’t have messed with her but I fucked her, yes I fucked her,” he broke into a hysterical laughter and shook his head. “She yelled I was more of a man than you will ever be, she chose me over you and she thought you were nothing.”
The outburst earned him a kick from Matt and he fell to his side and sat up again.
“And you,” he said, shifting his gaze to Victor. “Your girl, the one who wouldn’t even let you peck her cheek, Jeane, she was ready to hand it all over to me, her heart, her fucking body and everything, things you could never get close to. She would give it all to me, me and I didn’t need to ask. You two are nothing compared to who I am, I am August Donatti and you are nothing.”
A kick from Victor sent him sprawling to the ground again. He heard Mary whimper again and felt sorry he had to bring the Donatti ill luck into their family.
“And you are the one who dies,” Victor muttered and cocked his gun. “Say goodbye.”
He didn’t grant him that honor of a goodbye. He heard the sound, and saw the flash through his moist eyes, two times and the whimper died. He couldn’t scream, he just saw her spread out on the floor and through the shock, he saw the gun come for him. Two more shots, he felt no pain, he was already numb from watching Mary, the one he had loved heaped on the gathering scarlet liquid, her own blood.
Through the blur in his eyes, he saw Victor pull his pants up and watched them escape through the door. He wanted to go for her hand, to hold the one he loved once more but he was too weak to. His eyes closed slowly and he spread out against the couch on which Harry lay. He thought it felt cold to be dead. Then he felt nothing more, not even his own existence.
Matt pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed a number. Jeane died at exactly 5 am, smiling at his face she thought she had seen in a mist, she loved August.