I remember it was June, when the air still smelt of rain and spring, but the weather had the heat of summer, and it was the morning after one of the most fantastic nights of my life. I haven't seen Davy since then, though I still harbor hope that he'll come visit Rube and I when we're up north. Anyway, it was still pretty early morning, seven o'clock or so, so the sun was well over the horizon, but not yet peeking over the house. We-all of us, including Roxanna-were set to see Davy off.
None of us noticed him, though he was sitting there, plain as day in one of our chairs that he had the audacity to take from the barn. We didn't notice the nightmare that was staring us straight in the face because it simply didn't belong; it didn't fit with the fairy tale ending that had been laid out at our feet. He only proved to be something more than a figment of our imaginations when he opened fire.
Davy and Dad were at the car, Rube was in front of Roxanna and I, and Sara was behind us. The first shot struck Dad, where, I wasn't sure until later. The first shot stunned us all for a moment. When Dad's head bounced off the hood of the car, I jumped, thinking it was another shot. Davy had already reacted, diving into the backseat, and Sara had already fled to the relative safety of the house when the second shot went off, crashing through the back window of the car. Dad had fallen next to the front tire. Roxanna herded me towards the door and was restraining Rube. When we reached the door, a though struck me like a lightning bolt-Dad had a shotgun. At the same time, Rube broke away from Roxanna. We could only watch in horror as Rube rushed down the steps. Time itself seemed to slow down. He made it halfway to the car when Waltzer fired his third shot. Rube's body jerked backwards, and there was a sickening crack of bones breaking before he flopped onto his side in the grass. Blood was already pooling on the ground.
I didn't see Sara as I rushed up to Dad's closet, not that I cared at that moment. All I cared about was finding that shotgun to show Waltzer that nobody, nobody could do that to my family. I might not have been Sunny Sundown, but at that moment, I didn't really care. All while this was going on, I heard the loud bang of gunshots, the dull thunk of bullets hitting the car, and the tinkling of breaking glass as the bullets broke through the window. I had to dive for cover once when a bullet came through the window. I had found the shotgun, but no shells. Typical Dad. By that time the bullets had stopped and the car had roared out of the driveway. A mix of emotions flooded me; relief this was over, fear, for Davy. Fear for Dad. Fear Waltzer hadn't really gone. A desire for revenge. And then I remembered Rube. Rube, my brother, my best friend, who was probably dying or dead on our front lawn. Then nothing else mattered.
I fled from Dad's room and the foolishness that had happened in there. I still gripped the shotgun, though I didn't know it. I met Roxanna at the door, and together we went outside, to see the carnage. She went over to Dad, just as I was drawn to Rube.
I didn't notice my face was already stained with tears until my sobs started. They tore through my chest so violently it hurt as I frantically searched for a pulse, on his neck, wrist, and in that gaping whole of his chest. I couldn't seem to make any words, but when Dad went to get up, I turned and managed to get out between sobs that it wasn't me, but Rube.
Dr. Noakes pulled in, followed closely by the sheriffs. I don't remember any of this. I just sat on the first step of the porch and cried and cried. I let the despair eat at me as the sobs rattled my body and broke on the air, like waves against a rocky shore. I felt like I was drowning, and that nothing could save me. Nothing would have, except for the words of the sheriff deputy, Galen Max.
"Look there!" There was a pause. "He done it again!"
I glanced up to see what he was talking about. Rube thrashed once, then he was coughing up a mixture of blood and water and other bodily fluids.
In that moment, pure elation seized me, and I could have done a victory dance. Because my dear, dear brother and best friend was alive. Because even though we'd just been through Hell, we might, just might have a chance at that happily-ever-after that we deserved. And, let me tell you, was miracle enough for me.