The siren was a million days ago.
Maybe a million and one.
Her body undulating before me.
All sin and sex and pheromones.
Her long dark hair hitting her waist.
Hiding the good bits in some moments.
A smaller peep show than the one she was already doing.
She'd jump at the pole, hit the top, and spin the entire way down.
I would have given anything to talk to her before I died.
I would have given anything to still be at her feet, just watching.
But I'm here.
And I'm going to die.
Barney's hand weighed a ton, crushing my chest.
Crushing me into the bed.
I don't have a gun, Barney.
Shut up kid, he says.
Through the window, we could see the hotel desk office.
And they were there.
Just like us.
They had found us faster than I thought possible.
The shot was loud, and I saw the blood spatter hit the wall.
Then they weren't bloodiers.
God, my head was pounding.
I was almost ready to walk outside and give it all up.
But Barney held me down.
You got a plan there, Ace?
He stopped talking again.
Walked swiftly and silently across the room, gun still raised.
I couldn't move.
Fear had taken over.
I was six again.
Helpless little boy wanting his daddy.
Hating his mother for sending him away.
I just wanted to be saved, to be safe.
Get down, he says.
This will go quick, he says.
In the movies, fight scenes, gun scenes last a lifetime.
There is tumbling and fighting and people are shot so many times.
But they never die.
That ain't the real way of things.
The real way of things is a hell of a lot worse.
Within thirty seconds, the door busted in.
I stood, staring like an idiot, an outside observer.
I was a bloodier.
I didn't deal with the guns.
I wasn't prepared.
Shots rang out, and suddenly I was under water.
Barney hit the one on the left first.
Right between the eyes.
It was a movie shot, completely perfect.
Eyes rolling back to watch his brains exit his skull.
The right guy shot Barney in the arm.
Then turned and aimed for me.
I was dead.
This was it.
I opened my arms to receive it, almost happy.
I heard the shot.
But there was no after life.
I missed the second shot.
The bullet Barney sent flying into that guy's chest as he jumped in front of me.
He fucking saved me.
I still stood there, watching like an idiot.
And I heard the breath rattle in Barney's chest, lying on the bed.
Kid, he says.
Its barely a whisper.
I know he's dying.
Kid, he says.
Right here, Barney.
You gotta take the gun.
You gotta take my car, my baby.
There will be more coming, he says.
How do you thank someone for saving your life?
I will, Barney.
He looked old all of a sudden.
I put his head in my lap, and a pillow pressed against his wound.
He watched me.
Words unspoken between us.
His eyes began to glaze over.
I watched the life leave him.
I'd never done that before.
Ma wouldn't let me be there for her.
My father had been knifed in a bar.
And I had no one else.
But watching the life leave Barney was so intimate.
I knew him better than anyone else in that moment.
I wrapped his bloody dead body in sheets and comforters from the hotel.
Dragged him to his baby.
Put him in the backseat.
He'd give me hell for getting blood back there.
Even if it was his blood.
Barney deserved a proper burial.
And he was going to get it.
The gun was tucked into my waistband.
I wasn't wasting the life he gave back to me.
The car started, filling the silent morning with exhaust rumbles.
It was Sunday.
And I was going home.