“The other one was going to let us go,” Taffeta said softly.
Myrna’s hands squeezed hard into her arm as the words left her mouth. She could hardly believe she spoke out loud. She wasn’t thinking about talking, but there were her words, cutting through the silence like a hot knife.
While she tried to look away when the one continued to drive the head of the man with the hammer over and over again into the floor, there was no way to shut out the horrible noise that came with it.
Then, out of the blue, she spoke, as if in a dream.
Danny looked up from his seat on Hover’s body.
“Excuse me?” he said.
Taffeta gave Myrna a quick reassuring look, took another deep breath and turned back. “The man who got hit with the hammer, Petey? He was going to let us go.”
“Yessss,” Danny hissed softly. “And you can clearly see where that got him.”
“The point is,” Taffeta said, pressing on. “He realized we’re not a threat… to him, or to you or to whatever you have going on here.”
“Well, lady,” Danny said shaking his head. “All that seems to have turned into tough shit for you now, considering that your benefactor seems to have had his brains scrambled. And whatever it was you didn’t see before. Since then it seems to me that you’ve both seen quite a bit more. I mean, look around you. We’ve got bodies now. This is what they call, a bona fide shit storm.”
Whatever it was that had bolstered Taffeta’s confidence, faded quickly as a smile crawled across Danny’s face and he began to climb off Hover’s body.
“Now, you look like a couple of smart ladies to me,” Danny said, trying again to wipe the blood from his hands as he gained his balance. “Although, how smart can you be really? I mean look at where you are.”
Taffeta leaned back into the couch.
“Just a bit ago, whatever Petey there was feeding you, was still pretty fresh and I guess, not far from the truth. But now, he’s dead. Hover there is dead. They spilled my money all over the place while doing the dance of the idiots. And, now I’m left with you two. And, you think I should let you go?”
Taffeta cleared her throat. “Yes,” she said. “You should let us go.”
Danny began to pace, laughing to himself before turning to face the old woman. “You…,” he said, pointing with a dramatic flair. “Make a very compelling case. However, I can’t let you go. You know that, right?”
“You’re a horrible human being,” Myrna said, lurching up and throwing herself into the mix.
“Yes,” Danny said, feigning reproach. “I’m sure you see it that way. But you see, none of this was supposed to happen!” He went back to pacing and sliding his bloody hands across his shirt. “I mean really, look at this mess!”
“This isn’t our mess,” Myrna shouted back. “We’ve had just about…”
“SHUT UP!” Danny shouted, spinning around and ducking down to get into Myrna’s face. And while it may have been the rest she got after Danny knocked her out, or she may have just reached her limit, Myrna didn’t flinch and she didn’t waiver. She set her one good eye sternly on his gaze and they stared at each other, each one not daring to flinch.
“Let us go,” Taffeta said softly into the heart of the stand-off. “Let us go and we won’t say a word. I promise.”
The silence flowed between the three of them with little resistance, like a barely there summer breeze.
Danny blinked first. Breaking the stare down with Myrna, the turned his glance to Taffeta. “You’ve got guts lady,” he said, before reaching up to pat her cheek with a smile. “Both of you! You’ve got a lot of guts.”
He kneeled down before them to finish the work Petey started, untying their legs and tossing the ropes aside. He stood uneasily before them. “Hell, if my mother or grandmother had half the guts you two have, who knows where I’d be today.”
“Thank you,” Taffeta said, reaching down to rub at the spot where the ropes nibbled into her ankles.
“The sad thing is,” Danny said as his smile melted away. “Guts can make you stupid. They can give you a false sense of right and wrong, and of power. They make you careless. If I let you walk out of here, we both know where you’re gonna go. And I can’t have the police showing up here. Not before, at the very least, I get a chance to spruce the joint up a bit.”
He looked around his domain almost sensing the possibilities that could come with a good cleaning.
“No,” he said. “You’re going to leave all right, but you’re not going home.”
Again, with an unsuspected speed and seemingly peculiar strength, Danny lunged forward grabbing the front of Taffeta’s coat, and jerked her up and out of the couch to stand before him.
She let a small whimper slip as her legs wobbled and tingled a bit from sitting so long.
Danny looked into her eyes with a dark determination and he spun her around to drag her from the room.
“Wait!” she cried. “Please! Wait! Just let me say goodbye.”
Danny paused, letting the words sink in. The day was getting long and his patience thin, but a quick goodbye seemed reasonable. He spun Taffeta around like a giant doll and without letting go, leaned her out toward her friend.
Myrna reached out. Taffeta reached out. Their hands met and clasped around each other.
“I’m sorry,” Myrna said as tears trickled down her face. “I’m so sorry.”
“Shhh,” Taffeta said, closing her eyes softly and shaking her head ‘no.’ “I love you. You know that right?”
Myrna shook her head, squeezing Taffeta’s hand.
Taffeta squeezed back as hard as she could. “Myrna,” she said, searching for her friend’s eyes. “Don’t worry about me. Do you hear me?” She started to cry. “You can get out of this thing. You get out of this thing and you get out of here and you go far away where it’s safe. Do you hear me?”
Myrna gave her an obligatory nod, holding back a sob.
“Ok,” Danny said, pulling at Taffeta. “That seems good enough.”
“You get out of here,” Taffeta urged. As Danny pulled their arms stretched between them, but their hands held tight.
“You do what you need to do!” Taffeta shouted, fighting to stay with her friend. Danny pulled again, finally breaking the link between them and trying to spin the old woman away and into the shadows.
“You get free!” Taffeta yelled. “You let Cora protect you!”
Taffeta pushed back as hard as she could, but Danny held tight. She bounced around as he fought to control her. She tried to point at Myrna. “You get Cora!”
Danny pulled Taffeta up in front of him with a hearty shake and a head-jarring jerk that stilled the fight in her. He stared directly into her eyes, again silently communicating all the seriousness he was about to bring down upon her.
“The show’s over lady!” he spat.
Taffeta stared back for a moment before squeezing her eyes shut as tight as she could make them.
Two seconds later, the room exploded.
Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop!
Holding her eyes shut, her ears began to ring as the sound of Cora’s report filled the small room like thunder. Wood, glass and molding drywall shattered around her making the air thick with dust and debris. She felt her captor wriggle and shake. She heard him grunt and howl, but his grip held tight through the storm.
Thirty shots later, with a soft click, it was over.
An aggressive silence sought to recapture the space, save for a few bits and pieces that had yet to find their way to the ground.
Taffeta, with a measure of hesitation, slowly opened her eyes.
Danny face filled her vision. His eyes darted across her face showing anger and hate and fear and finally, emptiness. Like she has seen in Petey’s eyes, Danny’s life slipped away from him. One single, small smile crossed his lips before he loosed his grip and crumbled to the floor in front of him.
Taffeta took in a huge breath, and tried to blink away her tears. As he eyes adjusted, she say Myrna standing before her. Myrna’s arm stretched out. And at the end, where one would have expected to see her hand, Taffeta saw her purse. Coming from a dark black, powder-burned hole in the side of the purse, a thin, delicate stream of smoke rose up into the sky.
“I heard you!” she said. The words poured out of her like water from a rusty bucket. “I heard you and I didn’t think I knew what you were telling me, but then I realized. Then I couldn’t get it out. The gun got stuck in the bag. I tried to get the safety off and I really wasn’t sure if it would work because I couldn’t see.”
Taffeta walked to Myrna as she spoke, smiling and wiping away the tears that streamed from her eyes.
“Then I pulled the trigger and just hoped,” Myrna said. “And it did, but then I couldn’t aim, and you were right there and…”
Taffeta reached up slowly, felt into the bag and softly urged Myrna’s hand to let go. She hefted the bag with the gun off her hand and set it on the floor. She moved Myrna’s outstretched arm down to rest at her side.
“…and you were right there. And my God, what if I had killed you? But he was horrible and he said horrible things. And the way he kept slamming that other man’s head over and over. He was never going to let us go he…”
“Sh, sh, shhhh,” Taffeta said, moving in to hug her friend in earnest. “It’s over now. It’s ok. It’s over.”
Myrna kept talking, kept saying every word that came to her head until there were no more, and the trailed off into the dark silence. They stood together, hugging each other, rocking back and forth ever so slightly and assured themselves that they were both alive and that everything was ok.
A long while passed before they moved. Eventually, Traffeta broke from the embrace, pulled a pair of tissues from her pocket and offered one to Myrna.
Together, the wiped their eyes, gathered their wits and calmed their souls.
“Such a mess,” Taffeta said first. “Such a waste.”
“They were horrible, right?” asked Myrna. “I mean, I killed…”
“Sh…,” Taffeta cut her off gently. “Don’t.”
Myrna drew another breath and nodded. “I want to go home.”
“Me too,” Taffeta said.
“Can we just…go?” Myrna asked. “Are we allowed to just…leave?”
“I don’t know.”
Myrna reached down and took Taffeta’s hand. “Then let’s go. Let’s get out of here before something bad happens.”
Myrna stopped. Her brain caught up to what he mouth just said and she couldn’t help but giggle. “Before something bad happens. Did you hear that?”
“Let’s go!” Myrna said. “Medication be damned, I need a drink!”
She held on the Taffeta’s hand as she gathered up her own purse and moved to maneuver around the bodies and to the door, but Taffeta pulled at her.