This is the final part of a series of short stories that started with “T is for Terrible Twos” and continued through “Unfathomable”, “Vulnerable Sister”, and “Woven Skin”.
He fired his Glock at the doorknob, busting the lock, and kicked the door in.
She hadn’t been kidding when she said her sisters didn’t like confined spaces. This apartment had no supporting walls. It was completely opened with tiled floor and walls with the exception of one door leading to what? A bathroom?
The smell of lemon scented disinfectant burned his nostrils. In the center was a gurney and strapped to it was Evie, unconscious.
He heard a sliding door rattle open behind him and a bullet plunged into his side. Another hit his shoulder and he went down onto the tile.
“Why isn’t he bleeding? a soft voice asked.
“Because he’s wearing a vest.”
He rolled onto his back and glanced briefly into the eye of the gun staring him down before locking in on the holder. He brain bucked against reality. They were standing close to each other, that’s all. Like Kelly had described: Novalee always stood close behind Natalee because of the hole in her identical twins back. The hole left when doctors had separated Evie from them in hopes of saving at least one of the triplets.
But Natalee’s legs were atrophied to the point of worthlessness, yet she appeared to levitate in the air as if harnessed to her twin’s chest.
“You look perturbed mister. You never see the other end of a gun before?” Novalee asked him.
“I’ve been on both ends of the gun before but I’ve never been held up by conjoined twins. Weren’t you originally conjoined at the chest though?”
Natalee bobbed her head. “This way was more practical. Easier to get around.”
“And who rejoined you?” he asked.
Without warning, Novalee fired pointblank into his chest. The momentum transfer bounced his head off the tile. The bulletproof vest held but he could feel the bruise blossoming under it.
“We did. Everyday another stitch until we were put back together but we’re not conjoined twins. We’re a set of triplets.”
“And you plan to reconjoin with my client against her will?”
“She was separated against her will as were we.”
“You were infants. The doctors, your parents, only did what they thought was best.”
“And now it’s our turn to decide what is best.”
A red hole suddenly opened up in the center of Novalee’s head. He closed his eyes against the blood splatter. Natalee screamed as their combined body fell to the floor.
Kelly’s caregiver stood at the door, gun and silencer combo in hand. “Good job on the distraction front. You think you can get Evie home while I take care of this?”
He smeared the blood on his face. “What?” He kicked the gun from Novalee’s hand as Natalee made a reach for it. “Distraction?
“Did you really think she hired you to find her twins? We hired you because we knew it’d tick them off and draw them out.”
He gawked at her. “And what do you plan on doing?”
“You know I’d have to kill you too, right?”
It was pushing 2 am when he arrived and helped Evie stumble through the door. She had come to somewhat in back of the car.
“Is it over?” she had asked.
“You did it?”
“No.” He was still covered in blood and it reeked.
Kelly asked him to get her and Evie a glass of water. He wanted to go home but he did as requested.
“I’m a private investigator not an assassin. If you wanted to hire a hit on your sisters…”
“Hiring a hit is illegal, Mr. PI,” Evie said. She held her wife’s hand in hers.
“Really? Your wife’s caregiver seemed eager to handle it.”
“Xandra saved your life. I don’t see a bullet hole in your head.” They sat in a sustained silence, then she said, “Please send me the invoice for your bill tomorrow.”
“There’s going to be an awfully big inconvenience charge on that invoice, ma’am.”
She waved him away and he let himself out into the night. Once in his car, his cracked phone buzzed. He accepted it without saying a word.
“I do appreciate what you did for us.”
“I didn’t do anything except provide a decent distraction apparently.”
“Perhaps but it’s nice to have a family member who isn’t trying to do me bodily harm.”
He nearly dropped the phone. “What?”
“Don’t worry about it, Nathan. We’re only half siblings after all.” She hung up.
Raindrops splattered on his windshield. Without warning, it began to pour, and he sat in his car listening to it, clinging to one thing that was recognizable in a world that was becoming more of a stranger each day.
For the life of me the ending of this short story series would not form so I’m calling it good at 1 am because X is for Xandra and Z is for Zzzzzzsleep.