It’s been a while since I last posted this story but I decided to finish it. It does end quite abruptly, but I want to enter the whole thing into a competition with a 5000 word upper limit so I needed to be concise. I hope I haven’t lost anything by doing so. Let me know your thoughts 🙂

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I must have stumbled back to the garage rather than going home and woke up the next morning to Mary pushing a coffee cup into my hand. Back then, I used to take it black – and she knew that – but she’d clouded it with cream and when I sipped it, I tasted nothing but sugar.

“Christ, Mary. This is rank,” I said, spitting across the ’shop floor.

“It’ll sober you up, though. And I need you to come with me.” I’d never seen those black eyes so dark as I did then. I sat up from where I’d made my bed on the worktop and stared at her before noticing the terrified figure in the corner of the room.

“John, this is Nancy,” Mary paused while I took in her big belly, “And what Junior did to her wasn’t something she had a say in.”

Nancy looked down, shame faced and teary, and Mary looked to the truck. I nodded, gulped down my coffee and stood, handing over the keys. I was in no state to be driving, but damned if I’d let my girl go and fight this one alone.

As we rattled out of the ’shop I noticed that the sun wasn’t up yet, and I saw tear tracks glowing down the faces of both women in that early light. My head was throbbing something rotten, but I liked the pain it gave me as we shot over the bumps in the road, reminded me what we were going to somehow. All the while, that creamy coffee threatened to reappear.

Junior, it turned out, lived way out of town, past the Davies’ ranch and about another ten miles north. We all sat in silence, Mary with her foot to the floor and my old truck’s suspension squeaking as we went. We parked up in front of his neat little house and Mary turned to Nancy, offering a soft smile,

“It’s alright, sweetness. We’ll make sure you’re taken care of.”
Mary and I left the truck and made our way to the porch. Ruby light was spilling over the horizon now and glinted off the buckle of Mary’s belt. She stopped when she noticed me staring and met my gaze evenly.

“John, I don’t know what’s going to happen and what exactly I’m going to do in there. Just promise me if it all turns bad that you’ll take care of Nancy. She can have my job and bring the kid to work with her. Mamma Doyle’s already said she can have my room.”

“It ain’t going to go bad, Mary. But sure. I’ll keep her safe.”

Mary knocked on the door. There were some noises inside and then bleary eyed and dressed in a gown, Junior appeared.

“Miss Ward?”

“Shut the hell up, Junior. Is Ruth in?” Mary’s voice was cold.

“No, but I don’t see-”

She shoved him aside and entered, checking every room of the property while I kept my eyes on the boy. He glared at me, looked like he was ready to say something, but Mary’s return made him hold his tongue.

“She isn’t here, John. We can make this loud.”

I pushed the boy into the den to shouts of protest and Mary kicked his knees into a bend. He fell onto the couch and glowered at her.

“Nancy told me what you did, you bastard.”

“I didn’t do anything she didn’t ask for. She loved every second of it.”

“The knife marks? Did she love the knife, you sick freak?”

“She threatened to tell her Papa, to tell Ruth. What was I supposed to do? I let her see the consequences.”

“I’ll show you consequences,” Mary hissed and spat at him, “I told your old man. I told Nancy’s and I told the sheriff. We’re just going to wait here until-”

Junior had a gun in his hand from God-knows-where and pointed the thing at Mary. I don’t know what made me do what I did, but I picked up the nearest heavy looking thing – a big blue vase – and I tossed it at the boy’s head. It shattered on his skull and fell into thousands of pieces around him.

Mary pulled at what I’d thought was a shiny belt buckle and pointed an old Schofield at the boy.

“I love you, John,” she said to me with a wry little smile and then turned to the dazed kid before her.

“Blood of my blood, flesh of mine, you are nothing. It ends here.”

* * * *

Mary fell after shooting Junior, blood spilling from her stomach where she’d put a hole in him. And then she just vanished and I was left standing in a room with a dead man.

Like she’d said, the sheriff showed up, wanting to talk to the boy for what he did to Nancy. I thought fast – I knew they’d try and pin the thing on me since I was the only one there, but I’d promised Mary I’d take care of the girl and her child so I did what I had to.

I told them the story up until the point Mary pulled the trigger, and then acted like she’d run off into the dawn. They searched for her for months, even posted a reward, but needless to say they got nowhere.

I went to speak to Bertie after it happened and told him and Mama Doyle what really took place. They finally shared Mary’s secret with me, and that just made me love her more.

Way back before Columbus even set out for this great land, someone had done to Mary what Junior did to Nancy. She’d lived as an outcast outside in her village – an unmarried woman with a boy-child. She’d sworn to protect him, to protect every drop of his blood and the fates took her at her word. When that boy’s blood passed to his son, she was bound to protect him and so on, until Albert Hart Junior. By pulling that trigger and ending his life, she’d broken her vow and been taken from the world.

Blood of my blood, flesh of mine, you are nothing. It ends here.

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