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AaW Chapter 23

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Several things happened at once, Alex, next to Mary, jumped forward grabbed the barrel of the shotgun and pushed it downwards. Behind them Jeremy pulled his gun up into firing position at Mary, he did not fire. Dora stood there dazed, then looked down at herself, nothing, no wounds. Marge started screaming. Peter also started wresting with his mother, screaming “Leave her alone!” at Alex. Mike and Paige, just stood on the sidelines, Paige's mouth was opened and her face went white. It looked to Dora like she was going to faint.

Mary had a horrified look on her face and as Alex and Peter played tug of war with her arms she dropped the shotgun, it discharged again, sending Dora ducking to the ground.

“Jesus-Fucking-Christ! Stop shooting at me!”

Mary screamed at Dora, “I am sorry! I am sorry! I didn't mean to fire, it...just happened! I didn't mean it!”

Alex pushed Mary into Peter and the boy and his mother toppled over backwards, he bent down to pick up the shotgun and his eyes came into contact with Dora’s. “Oh shit.” he said softly.

“What? She missed. I am okay.”

“No. It’s Marge.”

Dora got to her hands and knees and looked back at her friend. At first there didn't seem to be anything wrong with her, then she noticed the slow, spread of red from her abdomen.

Dora heard someone saying, “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” She thought it was Mike. The back door slid open and the soldiers with Ned in the lead rushed back in.

“What the hell is going on!” Ned demanded.

“Did Marge turn?” Kerim asked.

“Mary was swinging the shotgun around and it went off, Alex jumped her and she dropped the gun and it went off again.” Paige said.

“Oh Christ! What happened? Jeremy?” asked Ned.

“We...it’s complicated. We were having a little dark humor, it got out of hand and Mary didn't like it. Dora didn't stop, and Mary was fuming, she grabbed the shotgun and it went off.”

“Is anyone hurt?” Ned asked.

“Marge got hit.” said Dora.

“I didn't mean to! It was an accident! You saw it! It was an accident!” Mary said, getting up and crying. Peter helped her and gave his father a hate filled stare.

“It was his fault!” the thirteen year old said. “He tried to get the gun away from my mom and it went off!”

Alex looked at him and sat the shotgun onto the counter top, he engaged the safety with a loud 'click' and stared down his son. “I wasn't waving it around like a crazy woman.”

“Oh for shit's sake! Can someone help Marge please? We'll get to the trial later!” Dora yelled.

Mary didn't move. John and Kerim came forward.

“Well I would prefer the doctor take a look at what she did.” said Dora.

Mary stayed where she was and hugged Peter close, murmuring, “Please forgive me Lord for I have sinned against thee...”

Peter hugged his mother close and patted her back, saying, “It'll be okay mom, you will be okay.”

Ned took charge of the gawkers while Kerim pulled up Marge's shirt, the woman continued to grunt in pain, saying, “Dora, make it stop! Dora! It hurts!”

Ned took Mary by the hand and led her outside to the patio. He stepped back in and called out, “Alex, why don't you come out here and keep an eye on things.” When Alex moved passed him he said, “Talk to them. To him.” Which brought a short nod from the man.

Marge stopped moaning and lifted her head slightly, then dropped it back to the couch. There were flecks of blood being blown out of her mouth and nose as she breathed. Kerim was kneeling beside Marge and had her shirt up to get a look at the wound. His eyes met Dora's and he shook his head slightly, while calling to John, “Get me some medical supplies out of our kit. Marge must have seen the slight head shake she smiled weakly and said, “You fucking bitch, Dora. You win.”

Confused Dora said, “What?”

“You had ten. The earliest time.”

“What? That was a joke Marge, a bad joke!” Dora started crying, “It didn't mean anything...I was...was trying to cope, you know?”

“Still a bet is a bet.” She grunted in pain as Kerim pressed a bandage to her wound, “At least tell me what you win so I can go stand as a sinner in front of Saint Peter with a smile on my face.”

“Fuck Marge, you can't leave yet. We haven't made up!”

“It is not your fault Dora. I forgive you. You didn't do anything. That cunt of a doctor fucked up. You just didn't think. It isn't one of your strong points anyway. How do you think you got in the mess you’re in? Not thinking.”

“Which mess?”

“The first one with Roger, Dora dear. You just didn't think, about Roger, about me, about your other friends. How many real friends did you have? Five?” Marge shook her head, “Two? Plus your family who only came by every year at most. You can be real mean, you know.”

“I'll...I'll..” Dora started to stay to be interrupted by Marge.

“Sshh, you'll have more time to talk when I am gone. You were going to say you would be nicer? I don't believe it; it’s against your nature. You might try being a little less mean, see how that works for you.” Marge coughed a large blob of blood spewed out of her mouth to land on her chin and dribble down to her neck. “Dora.” she whispered.

“What?” Dora asked leaning closer.

“I am not going to live. I am not coming back either, no second life for me. Now go get that bitch who shot me. I am going to fix her good. Go easy on her...afterwards, because I am not going to.”

Dora nodded, tears falling on her friends face, making clear trails through the blood.

“For fucks sake, Dora! Get her now! I don't have all day here.”

Dora scrambled up and yelled over to Ned, who was still at the back door. “She is dying; she wants to talk to Mary. Quickly!”

Ned poked his head out the door and called out to Mary. She came to the door quickly, Peter clinging to her. Ned held up his hand and pushed it on the boy's chest, “Only your mom, you stay there.”

Peter went to protest, but Mary said, “Stay there.” The boy fumed and shot his mom, dad and Ned a furious look, his face a deep scarlet color.

Mary crossed the room and stood woodenly by Marge's side.

“I don't know why, but she wants to talk to you.” said Dora coldly.

Nodding, Mary looked down at Marge who said, “God knows why, but I forgive you. I was going to die anyway, so you shooting me only hurried it along. Now get down here close to me.”

“Don't bite her, Marge!” said Dora suddenly.

Marge laughed, “Bite her? I am not going to bite her, I am going to do far worse, but only she gets to hear me. So you three back off.”

Kerim and John backed off, looking relieved. Dora hesitated, but then joined them by the island as Mary leaned over Marge and listened to the woman whisper in her ear.

Tears came to her face and at one point she looked sharply at Dora, then Marge's hand turned her face back around. It was a good long talk too.

“What do you think she is telling her?” Paige asked Dora.

“Probably all my dirty little secrets, it'd be just like her.”

“You have dirty little secrets? You seem pretty transparent to me.”

Dora thought about it for a minute and then said, “You know, you are right.” her brow furrowed in thought, “What the hell is she telling her?”

The conversation ended with Mary saying, “I will, I promise. I will Marge. I am so sorry. You can count on me.”

“I'll explain everything to Saint Peter, if I get that far.”

“Do you repent?” Mary asked.

“Oh yes I do. I can see now how everything, everything, I did was such a waste. I wish I could do it over again and make the right decisions. I wish I had more time.”

“Can I...can I pray with you? Say a prayer with you?”

Marge looked over to where the rest of the group was gathered, “I would like that, but it had better be a short one.” blood was making Marge's lips a bright red color.

Mary took out a silver crucifix and began to recite an 'Our Father' over Marge. She kept it short and then said a personal prayer to Saint Mary to watch over and guide Marge to heaven.

“Why Mary?” asked Marge.

“She is ever merciful. Jesus be with you Marge....I don't even know your last name?”

“Norton.”

“Goodbye Marge Norton. I will pray for you. I will honor what you asked of me.”

“Dora!” Marge cried out, as a spasm wracked her body in pain.

“I am here Marge!” said Dora brushing by Mary as the other woman stepped away. Kneeling Dora took Marge's hand in her own and held it to her face.

“I want nothing to happen to Mary, Dora. Nothing. You don't have to be nice to her, you don't have to like her, but I forgave her and you should too. I was dead anyway. She only stole a few hours from me, a few miserable hours. I had a vision Dora, when she shot me, I blacked out for a moment, I saw things...” Marge's voice dropped off quietly to nothing.

“Marge!” said Dora crying.

The other woman's eyes flickered open, she said softly, “Not...dead..yet. I will be okay. I am almost free. You need her Dora. You need...Mar...” again Marge stopped talking and again her body trembled in pain. Then, in a loud voice she spoke again, “and for God's sake be less of a bitch!” Marge's body tensed up and then relaxed, her eyes stayed open and her breathing stopped, a thick wad of slimy, red spittle dribbled out of her mouth to fall on the leather cushion she lay upon.

“Step back Dora.” Kerim said, forcibly removing Marge's hand from hers and pushing Dora back. Dora stood and took a step away from her friend's body. Turning she saw John standing back with the others by the island.

Ned was over by his driver and camera man, helping himself to another cup of coffee. He raised his eyebrow at Dora, lifting his mug. Dora nodded once and he took another cup from the counter and filled it for her.

“How long now? Until she comes back?” she asked Ned, taking the mug from his hands and adding sugar and cream.

“Two, three minutes at most.”

Watching the digital clock on her stove Dara waited until five minutes had passed. “What now?”

“Kerim?” Ned called.

Dora turned to look at Kerim and Marge. Kerim was standing with his rifle aimed at Marge's head, he stood about three feet away, waiting for the first sign of movement. “Nothing yet.” he said, his voice was wavering, “This is, unusual.”

“She isn't coming back.” Mary said, smiling.

“What are you smiling about? You think this is funny?” asked Dora.

Mary's face became serious, “No Dora. It is wonderful. She told me she was not coming back. She said it was proof that what she told me was true, if she didn't return, I would know she was telling me the truth. It is a miracle.”

“Saint Marge?”

“No saints Dora, God himself.” Mary slid to her knees and bowed her head in prayer.

Looking at the others she asked, “Do any of you know what the hell she is talking about?”

“Dora we were next to you, right, how should we know?” asked Mike, “Uh, should we pray too? I mean, Marge did die right? A true death, she should have come back.”

Paige went to her knees and one by one the others did as well, leaving only Dora standing, Kerim still kept his gun pointed at Marge's head.

Mary looked briefly at Dora, smiled again and started praying, John joined her moments later and the two of them recited verses for the rest. Dora snorted, turned and filled up her mug with another cup of coffee.

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