We walk along the lake as the summer breeze sweeps her hair into the air. She's still holding the flower I gave to her and she strokes the soft yellow peddles, slowly she plucks them off and they fall to the grass. Her smile slowly fades with each peddle that falls. It's almost as though the world around her responds to her expression, slowly a cloud crosses the sun and I can almost feel her thoughts. Something dark was peeking through them, something she didn't want to reach the surface. She drops the wilted stem to the ground and stops walking.
"Were you afraid in the war?" Her voice is small and dark yet somehow sounds child like. "I wouldn't be afraid."
She turns to me as if I had said something trivial. "Because it's an excuse."
"An excuse for what?"
She turns away and gazes out over the calm lake. "'When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit'" she pauses. "I've been prayin' real hard, Rick, and I haven't been delivered yet."
I hold her in my arms. She made no sound but tears fell from her eyes like beads. I know now that I have to stay with her always, if I don't she'll never be happy and she'll slip into the darkness and never come back to me.
I pace the floor waiting for the Doc to come back downstairs. I want him to tell me she'll be aright and I have nothing to worry about, but something inside me knows there's something wrong. I've never seen her like she was. It was like she just let herself fall apart. Every horrible memory must have just pushed itself out at once until it consumed her. I'm responsible for about half of those memories, and I need to fix it. She not only deserves to be happy, she needs to be happy. I thought leaving her would make her happy, so she wouldn't have to be exposed to my kind of living. But I pushed her into the life she has now by not being there for her. Whatever happens to her now is my fault and nothing can change that.
I feel a hand on my shoulder. The touch is shaky and weighs heavily on my shoulder. I turn to see Jim looking pail and hunched over.
"She'll be fine, Rick." His voice is clear and distinct.
"Get back to bed, Jim, you look like hell."
He nods and moves slowly to the small cluttered table where Charlie and Sam sit. Charlie looks at me, the weight of his stare causes me to look away. I'm responsible for his life too. I kept him alive during the war only to expose him to this shitty life. I put his life in danger everyday for nothing more than a few bucks.
I hear footsteps coming down the stair. The Doc comes downs a rubs his eyes under his spectacles.
"She's asking for you."
That's all I needed to hear. I race up the stairs and let my anxiety fill my mind. She lies in bed, propped up on some pillows and staring at the wall. I walk slowly towards her and sit at the side of the bed. Her head limply turns to me and I see that she has been crying.
"I'm sorry, Rick." Her voice is a whisper and cracks under her words.
I hold her hand and look into her eyes. A small tear runs down her face and falls onto the pillow. Her burses are more prominent now, and I hate that that someone would do that to her.
She turns away from me and stairs back at the wall.
"You need to kill him, Rick." She tightens her grip on my hand and I feel her pain flow through me. "You need to kill him and get the hell out of here."
"Did Blake hurt you?"
Her silence answers for me. She pulls the covers off her body and gets out of bed. I stand up and stop her from leaving the room. Her pain has festered into anger and she needs to unleash it. She tries to push past me but I hold her arms.
"Damn it, Andrea, think about this!" I say. "You can't go, not now!"
"Then when, Rick! When you leave again? When you leave me here with that bastard and just forget about me?"
Her words twist my heart like a vice. I sigh and look to the floor.
"I could never forget about you, Andrea."
She falls silent and I let go of her arms. She let it go. Put up another one of her walls and forgot about her feelings.
I hear voices down stairs. Andrea says something but I focus on the sounds below. A gun is fired and then a moment later a second shot rings out. I run down the stairs and see Jim and Charlie lying on the floor in a puddle of blood. Standing over them are Sam and Blake. Dr. Monroe sits at the table as if nothing had happened.
Blake smirks at me.
"You have 'till dusk to get the hell outta my town McCoy."
I reach for my gun but Blake would shoot me before I could do anything with it. Sam laughs and kicks Charlie's lifeless body.
"Sam, you sonava bitch! They trusted you god damn it!"
"Sorry, Ricky, Blake here pays better. Besides I always hated your dumb ass brother."
I rush towards him in anger. I want to tear out his heart and watch the life leave his eyes. Blake fires his gun and the bullet grazes my leg and I fall to the floor. He waltzes over to me and stands over me. He crouches down and puts the gun to my head.
"Stop!" Andrea calls from the staircase. "Please, Blake, don't hurt him!"
Blake stand up and I can almost feel that evil smirk of his.
"So this is where you've been. I've missed you, Andrea."
"Bull shit." Her voice is strong and I hear her footsteps come towards Blake. "You were just upset that your little soldier went AWOL for a few hours."
I peel myself off the floor and lean on my arm. Andrea has a gun in her hand and she points it at Blake. He chuckles and pulls the hammer back on his gun and aims it between my eyes. There's not doubt in my mind that he would pull the trigger. He would kill me then her and it would all be over. She would spend her last seconds in agony as she watches my body fall to the floor, then he would shoot her, and she would get delivered from all the pain she's ever felt.
Blake smiles at Andrea. "Put the gun down."
She doesn't move.
I look in her eyes and see fear. She's scared and doesn't know what to do. She needs someone to tell her everything is going to be okay and she doesn't have to worry anymore. She looks down at me and sees the gun to my head. She closes her eyes and makes a decision.
"I'll go with you." She lets the gun hit the ground.
Blake lowers his gun and wraps his arm around Andrea. Andrea and Sam leave but Blake stays at the door. I stand up and look him in the eye. We say nothing and he leaves. This is not over.
Monroe sits at the table. He leans on his elbows and buries his face in his hands. I pull his head back and his arms fall limp. His eyes have been gouged to the point of death and his lips hang from his mouth. Only a sick bastard like Sam would have let a man die like this. I put his head down on the table and walk over to Jim and Charlie. They deserved better than what I got them into. Jim should have gone home and met a nice girl, maybe even have a few kids. Their lives are over because of me and my decisions. And now Andrea is in trouble and needs my help. I single handedly ruined three people's lives. It's too late for me to help Charlie and Jim, but I can still help Andrea.