I wish I didn’t worry all the time. If I really could’ve relaxed, it might’ve been a different story, but I wanted to be able to hear Matt if he called out to us, so I left the bedroom door open.
I left the goddamned door open.
What more is there to say?
We’re in bed making love, then all of a sudden, he’s on us.
He bites Wil, takes a big, honking bite out of his back.
He must’ve died in them twenty minutes since I checked on him, and he bites Wil.
I’m underneath him and see it all happening, but there’s Jack Squat I can do about it.
Wil slides off me and takes him to the floor, and he beats that poor kid’s face in with his bare knuckles alone, nothing more to lose.
It don’t matter no more. It don’t matter if blood splatters in his mouth or his knuckles get torn open.
Nothing matters any more.
He’s a dead man.
“Shoot me, Ruby,” he says, on his knees and covered with gore. “It’s over. Shoot me.”
I take up the gun, but somehow I can’t go through with it.
“Why’s it me, always has to shoot everybody?”
“I don’t know, Mija. Luck?”
We stare at each other and laugh.
“You gotta shoot me now, God damn it. I can feel the change starting already.”
“You’re probably the last man on earth the same age as me,” I tell him.
“I know. But you still have to do it.”
I slam a new clip in.
“I love you, Wil.”
“Love you, too, baby, but we’re running out of time.”
He opens his mouth, his eyes squeezed shut.
“Don’t be afraid,” he tells me in his soft Mexican accent, his hands behind his head like for a traffic stop. “Do what we always talked about.”
I cock the gun.
“This sucks. I can’t even kiss you.”
“Yes, you can. You can kiss me from the inside out.”
He opens his mouth again, and this time I stick the gun in it.
“Well,” I say, a wiseass to the end. “There’s always the afterlife, I guess.”
And I pull the trigger and blow his fucking head off. I’ll probably be deaf for a week, and I have bits of bone and hair and meat all over me, dripping off my chin and pooling on the floor between my knees.
At least with Joe, I was at a distance. At least with Joe, I didn’t have to smell the tang of gunpowder mixed with fresh blood. I get up and stagger over to Matt and shoot him, too, just to be safe.
I’m shell-shocked, I guess, ’cause all I can do is walk downstairs to the boy’s room and flop down on his bed, gun and blood and everything.
I don’t know how long I slept. Might’ve been a day, maybe two. I’m tired all the way down to my bones, mentally, physically, emotionally, but the sun’s coming up, so I rise to meet it.
I step out onto the gallery to greet the dawn. The dead are all clustered at the bottom, still banging away at the door. It would be the simplest thing in the world to just go down them steps and open that door and let them tear me apart, but I’ve never been known for taking the easy way out.
I laugh madly. There are still a few bullets left in my gun, but I doubt I could hit them at this range.
I wonder, will Joe be waiting when I get to the other side? Or Wil? Or maybe it’ll be both of them. Hell, maybe everyone I’ve ever loved’ll be there.
I hope so.
I hope they’re all there to meet me when I come tearing through that veil between the living and the dead, but one thing I’m sure of: if I let them scumbags take me alive, I won’t never get to the other side, so I climb the rail and perch myself up there, facing the lantern, leaning my elbows on the dome.
It’s better this way.
I’ll be done, and I’ll get to take a few of them sacks of shit out with me.
“Well, fellas,” I tell them, cocking the gun. “Ready or not, here I come.”
And I stick the gun in my mouth.
A final blast and I’m soaring, free as a bird.