Okay.

This is a book fiction. It will have elements of the movie in it, but not many, save for the fact that Mort and Amy lost their baby.

In the book, Mort dies. Amy and Ted do not. Amy is depressed.

And John Shooter is real.


*~*~*

1


Mort was dead.

Amy still couldn't believe it.

Mort was dead.

Ted had told her time and time again that he was never coming back, and Amy had said she believed him, but she knew now, as she lay in bed next to her now-fiancé, that she would never truly accept it.

She would never bring him coffee in the morning, would never groan at his stupid blonde jokes, would never make him breakfast; would never get up with him at six in the morning to go on a walk, would never spot him for a bagel at the café, would never pry the bottle of Jack Daniel's from his fingers as he dozed in front of the word processor and escort him to bed, never ever again.

She would never make love to him ever again, either.

This bothered Amy.

Never make love to him ever again.

When was the last time they had made love? When they were still married? It had to have been at least a year before their divorce, before Amy had realized (thought) she was second place in Mort's life and went out to a singles bar where she met Ted.

A pang of guilt coursed through her veins at this thought.

Ted.

If it hadn't been for Ted, everything would be different. Amy would have probably swallowed her cowardice down and confronted Mort, and they would have sat down on the couch or bed and talked into the early hours of the morning when both would have realized how much they were still in love with each other, and they would have cried and hugged each other, never to let go, and then one would kiss the other and superfluous clothing would have gone flying in every direction and then it would be arching backs and loud moans and hot kisses, echoing through their house.

Their house.

If it hadn't been for Ted, their house would probably still be standing; that gorgeous Victorian house that they had both fallen in love with while driving around in Suburban Maine, the one that Amy had begged Mort to ask the then-owner for a tour; the house that they'd contentedly shared for just over a decade; the house that they'd painted and furnished themselves; the house in which every room they'd consummated with a long, slow screwing session; the house that they were going to raise their baby in; the house that they'd grieved in when the baby was lost; the house with her study, her secret window tucked in behind a wall; the house whose charred remains she and Mort and Ted had waded through, silent and shocked and sad.

Ted.

If it hadn't been for Ted, there would have been no divorce, no haggling with Ted to 'tell Mort later', no calling Mort incessantly to get him to sign the papers and make the separation final.

If it hadn't been for Ted, there would be a Mort.

This hit Amy like a frying pan hits a cartoon character.

No Ted meant Living Mort.

Amy suddenly hated Ted, hated him with all her heart. She suddenly hated his graying brown hair that swept over to the side in a wave, hated his Ford Taurus that had his picture, name and number painted on the side, hated his goddam pipe that he chewed on all the time, hated the smell of his tobacco, hated the way he spoke, that southern molasses drawl that was too much like John Shooter's, hated the way he had treated Mort, hated his kind, worried attitude following Mort's death.

If it hadn't been for that goddam affair, if Amy hadn't liked Ted so much, if Ted hadn't been so fucking likeable, Mort would still be alive.

Amy considered, for a moment, taking the gun from the desk in the study and using it to put a dark, smoking hole in Ted's forehead, almost like Mort had done that awful night at the motel.

For a second, she couldn't blame Mort for nearly pulling the trigger. She may have in his place. May have…

She couldn't quite remember that night; her subconscious had blocked it out, as had done the two men's, and everything was muzzy, as if seen through nylon and heard through one of Mort's flannel shirts.

She remembered being scared. Scared and incredibly guilty.

And worried.

Oh, how worried she had been about Mort.

Amy had known something was wrong, had known that Mort was on his last leg, and that his discovering their affair was the straw that broke the camel's back.

But she didn't know, at the same time. She would never really know.

A deep surge of black hate towards Ted coursed through her again, rippled through her like a wake following a ship.

You stupid fucking  bastard! she screamed at Ted silently, this is all your fault!

And she slipped out of bed in a flash and pattered down the hallway to the study like some jaded James Bond in a black nightie, removing the .35 from the bottom right-hand drawer, then pattering back.

As she entered the master bedroom, she slowly lifted the pistol and pointed it at the smudged black form that was Ted, her hand shaking as she pulled the hammer back, locking it. She moved forward, closer to her sleeping lover, still keeping the gun trained on his lump of a head, and her finger began to squeeze that sliver of steel, and it pulled—

She dropped the gun to the floor.

No loud rapport. No sweetly acrid smoke. No smug trickle of Ferrari red dripping down onto the clean, obscenely white sheets.

Only a woman in her black nightie, wrapped around herself as she lay on the braided rug, trickles of salty tears running down her face as silent sobs wracked her body.

Ted slept on.