I began to shake and had to grip the table for support. It suddenly struck me what the bundle that Spenser had carried in probably was.
I reached for the bundle with a shaking hand and pulled the blanket back, underneath was the face that I had come to know and love. I pulled the blanket back even further, and saw the cause of death: two gunshot wounds to the chest.
Jeremy’s shirt and hands were covered in blood. Some more blood had dried on his lips; he must have been coughing it up because of internal bleeding. I ran my fingers on the cold lifeless face, pausing a moment when they reached the lips. I had kissed those lips and felt their warmth. I had reveled in the sweet embrace that comforted and strengthened. But all of that had turned to ash, and left a bitter taste in my mouth. There was nothing left, only a cold and lonely emptiness that was filled with silence.
I could have stood there forever, looking at that beautiful face, but sorrow quickly turned to anger when I remembered that Spenser’s job had been to protect him.
“You were supposed to keep him safe. He’d still be alive had you been on top of things!” I said accusingly.
Spenser didn’t meet my eyes. He just looked at the floor.
His lack of response enraged me even further, so I threw myself at him and began to try to punch him, but he grabbed my wrists and held them tight. I thrashed and tried to break free, but without much success. I then did the only thing I could do; I sunk my teeth into his right hand. He didn’t even flinch. I tasted blood in my mouth, but I didn’t let go. After a while of this, he finally looked me in the eye and said, “I didn’t mean for this to happen. As soon as I heard the scuffle, I went into the alley, but even then it was too late. I got there in time to see Jack pull a gun. I shouted at Jeremy to get down, but before he had much of a chance to move, Jack had already fired the gun. He didn’t even aim. He just fired six shots from a revolver in Jeremy’s general direction and then ran. I could’ve gone after him, but I stopped when Jeremy said, ‘There’s two bullets in my chest, Spenser,’ and slid down the wall.
"He was bleeding all over the place and was starting to cough up blood. Then he looked up at me with those huge eyes, and he looked so innocent, that I felt a tear run down my cheek. He smiled when he saw it and said, ‘I hope you’ve not gone soft.’ But then his smile faded, and I knew he must have been thinking of you, because then he started crying and said, ‘Don’t let her die for me. Promise to keep her safe, even if you have to save her from herself.’ He had already lived far longer than I would have expected for someone with a pierced lung, but he was stubborn, just like always. He wouldn’t go until I promised, and how could I refuse a dying friend? After a bit, he just kinda faded, and even though his eyes were still open, there was nothing in them. I couldn’t just leave him there. I couldn’t leave him in that alley like a piece of trash, so I called Cai and while I waited for him to arrive, I tried cleaning Jeremy up a bit. I got the worst of the blood off of his face and closed his eyes. There was an old blanket in my car, and so when Cai arrived, I went to go get it, and then we bundled him up and carried him back here.”
During the course of his tale, I had released his hand and stopped thrashing about madly.
“You mean you let him live?”
“It was either kill him, or have Jeremy die alone. Besides, this is your fight.”
At this point, James cut in. “She’s not going to be getting revenge on anybody. Jack is a customer. If he gets killed, it means we make less money. If we don’t make enough money, then this warehouse is going to be merged with the main one. Remember what all of you were like before you started working for me? You were nobodies. Everyone picked on you and pushed you around. Be thankful for what you have in me. Not every boss would let you take and take and take the way I do. You never give me anything in return, so just this once, shut the fuck up and do what you’re told. I know all of you have work to do.”
The rage that had been cooled by what Spenser had to say was reignited as soon as James opened his mouth.
“It’s not bad enough that you exploited Jeremy while he was alive. Oh no. Your cousin just died and all you can think about is money. Well I’m done. When I die, I’m going to make a statement you can’t ignore. I’ll make you see. I'll show all of you!”
Then I turned on my heel and walked out of the warehouse. When I got home, I fell into bed and let the grief overwhelm me. The last thing I remember before falling asleep was the light from my digital clock glancing off the tears that dampened my eyelashes.