(This is a writing challenge from my Red Dress Club: One character has to be laughing and the other crying.)
“This tongue’s loaded with buckshot. And I’ll be damned if it ain’t aimed right at you.” Kate slapped her thigh and laughed at her own remark.
“The trigger is cocked,” she continued. “Ya better run before I take out my teeth!” Another spasm of laughter overtook her.
Annie, Kate’s youngest sister by fifteen years, didn’t move. She pocketed her hands as tears tumbled down her cheeks. “He needed my help,” she said. “This one really got me, Kate.”
“He needed your help? You’re a mess. What kinda shape is he in?”
Annie swiped her nostril with the back of her hand.
Kate saw the bruises, “You look like you’ve been loaded rough and bagged with gravel.”
Annie’s silence caused Kate to finally soften. She touched Annie’s shoulder. Annie flinched and stepped back. “I need a shower…not your smart-ass remarks. Quit bloody laughin’!”
Kate shook her head. “I can’t believe you. Let’s head up to the house. You can clean up and I’ll fix us a drink. Quit sniffling and don’t look beat up. People around here don’t need confirmation that my family’s crazy.”
Kate trundled up the rise and made her way to the stone steps that Johnny had placed in the hillside. Annie followed, carefully fighting a limp.
After Annie showered, she came into the kitchen wearing Kate’s old red, stringy bathrobe. Two small glasses, each one a third full, waited beside the bottle of Scotch. Kate stirred the stew on the stove and turned to the island that held their drinks. They each picked up a glass, clinked a cursory toast and shared the golden cure for cowardice. Neither one really wanted to cover this ground again.
Kate spoke first. “When you gonna get tired of this?”
“As long as Paulie and I love each other, I have to live with Johnny.”
“You know Johnny will never forget Paulie. He’s loved her from the day he set eyes on her. No other woman has ever rocked him this much,” Kate examined a cut in Annie’s forehead and continued, “He cannot accept the fact that she is gay. For God’s sake, they were like a pair of rabbits for weeks. What does that say?”
“Paulie told me that if she wasn’t gay, she would be in love with Johnny. She hoped to be bi, but she’s gay. I know it broke his heart, Kate. God, he’s my nephew. I know his soul. He could have any woman around here.”
“She’s carrying his child, for God’s sake, Annie! What does that do for you? Your lover is carrying your nephew’s baby!”
“Paulie and I have discussed this thoroughly. After denying our sexuality and our attraction for each other, we’re finally together. We’re finally being honest about ourselves.” Annie poured another double for each of them.
“The reason Paulie is keeping the baby is because of our love. This baby is part of my flesh and blood. It’s equally precious to both of us. That decision is made, Kate. It’s final.”
“Then you have to leave Johnny alone, Annie. Stop expecting him to join your pipe dream of a happy little threesome. You’ve broken his heart, too, ya know.”
“Why does he always call me then? Why does he call this rotten aunt every time he gets himself stinking drunk and fighting with goons?”
“Who else does he know with a black belt in Karate? No more rescuing, Annie. It’s done. I’m his mother and I’m telling you to leave him alone. There. How’s that for buckshot in yer butt?”