They were dropped at an address at Kowalski’s instruction, his revolver was returned to him and the Gioellis drove on. The apartment was cramped and looked like it had been ransacked, but she could tell without asking it hadn’t. This was just how John lived. He disappears into the bathroom, grabbing a shirt on the way. Empty bottles of bourbon lay about the place among discarded shirts and half finished notes. On the blank brick wall by what she took to be his bed there were newspaper clippings, police reports, photos. John had mapped the entire McLaughlin crime family. On the night stand she saw there was a newspaper cutting with her own face on it, and one with Lily. That was something at least. They didn’t talk, they had a job to do, better to just get it done.
Before long they were in a cab on their way to the upper east side, the money part of town. Tonight she was going to pay Jimmy the Noose and his close friend Governor DeWitte a visit.
The mansion was huge, bigger than any house she had ever seen. How was it possible for a person to use all that space. John laid a hand on her shoulder, she didn’t have to do this he told her. He would go it alone. Typical John. Like hell he would go alone. She was just as much a part of this as he was. She had come this far and she would be damned if she would buckle on the last leg. Of course it was dangerous, of course they might not come out of this whole. Lily deserved this much from her, from both of them.
They paced around the grounds until they found what they were looking for, a small gate at the back end of the estate. John made quick work of the lock. The gardens were immaculate, full of exotic flowers and expensive fountains. She was surprised by the lack of security, but what did a governor have to fear in this town, especially with friends like the Mclaughlin’s.
Soon they found what they were after, a large set of wood framed patio doors that led into the governor’s study. There, illuminated by lamplight was Governor DeWitte, fat and corrupt, and Jimmy the Noose in his finest suit. His blonde hair was, as always, smoothed back, his bright eyes seemed to reflect no light. Nestled comfortable in high back leather chairs, dark drinks in hand and smiles on their faces. The anger she had filed away for a more appropriate time began to bubble up unbidden. John motioned that there were two others with Jimmy, his muscle. They stood, on the precipice of it all. This was it, but how would they get in there unnoticed she asked him. He had a plan he told her with a smile. She found herself smiling back. Without another word John picked up one of the large potted plants and launched it through the glass doors. He stepped inside quickly, gun drawn and arms wide. She followed him in. He says he’s sorry about the patio doors, but he couldn’t find a key.
Jimmy’s men are in motion, everything is happening so fast. A shot goes off, the governor is behind his chair on the telephone to the police. Jimmy is shouting orders as he pulls his gun. John had barreled into his men, they were all in a heap on the floor. What the hell was he thinking, what the hell kind of plan was this?! She steps toward Jimmy but his pistol comes up. On the floor Jimmy’s men have John by the throat and the arms. So, is this how it ends she wonders. Jimmy orders his men to hold John up by the wall, he gives her that dead eyed stare. They had delivered themselves, well, it saved him from hunting them down. Did they know what they had done to him, the indignities he had suffered! Was she ready to pay the price? Well she was going to watch John die. He would make her watch as he killed him, as he tore bits from him a piece a time. Jimmy steps towards John, the shot rings out.
Smoke coils up lazily from the barrel of the snub nosed revolver. She hadn’t missed this shot. She couldn’t. Jimmy looks down at the slowly spreading red stain on his shirt. She stands ridged, looking Jimmy dead in the eyes. His mouth flaps like a goldfish, he tries to raise his gun but can’t. He falls into the high backed chair and he doesn’t move. His men stare in disbelief, first at Jimmy, then at John. They follow Johns gaze, a .38 detective special pointed dead at them. Two more shots in quick succession. John looks at her with those dark eyes, she stares back with a face of stone that puts his best tough guy act to shame. This was his plan she says aloud, that he knew they wouldn’t search her. He doesn’t say anything, just nods.
The Governor is still cowering behind the chair. He mumbles that the police are on their way. Good, that’s good she tells him as she motions him to stand up with her gun. He does so reluctantly, not looking at the three dead bodies now littering his otherwise pristine study. Listen closely she tells him putting the bodies at her back, she doesn’t want to look at them either.
Her whole life has been stood still since the night these men took the life of an innocent child. She is taking her life back, and them, they don’t deserve one. So she is giving him a choice, it isn’t much of one but it is more then Lily was ever offered. Now he could explain to the police that three known gangsters broke into his home in an effort to strong arm him and they were forced to act in self defence. He can go on with his life, they can start theirs again. Or she can use the last bullet in this gun, she can keep her life on hold because Lily doesn’t get to live hers. She pulls back the hammer. The decision was his.
The buzz that had followed the events at the governor’s home had sent demand for her and John through the roof. Every paper wanted an interview. John told them to go to hell. For his part the governor played his role of set upon statesman well. No one ever knew the real circumstances of what happened that night, with the exception of Mrs Gioelli, who sent a rather lovely fruit basket and an assurance that business was better than ever and that they were square.
Being back at the Lonely Hill was like slipping into a warm dream, it simply didn’t seem real. But here she was, singing once more for the cream of the crop, the richest and most corrupt of the cities patrons. The anger and surety she had felt at the mansion had ebbed away, leaving her cold inside. The bourbon now helped her wipe away the faces from her dreams. Lily, John and three dead men. Nothing ever changes, she would be fooling herself to think that anything they did had any bearing on how this city was run. It mattered to her though. For Lily. She found another note in her dressing room, on top of white lilies. Its tight John Kowalski scrawl read: We are whole. She folded the note and poured herself a straight bourbon.
“We will never be whole John, it’s not who we are”