Freyja dashed up the back stairs and entered the living with the gun gripped in both hands. She pointed it at Gunnar’s heart. Voices went silent, breathing got louder.
“BB had a changed of plans. Now get out, Gunnar, or I kill you.”
Big Doug emerged from the hallway, struck a similar stance and pointed an even bigger gun at Freyja.
Marty had called Gunnar a cornered animal, unpredictable and dangerous. Was this how it was going to end, blood splashed on the caftan her Ama knitted that covered Poppa’s legs? Brain matter spewed on her Nona’s antique chandelier Momma had brought from the old country? Freyja’d photographed enough murder scenes to know how messy they were. If she pulled the trigger Gunnar would die, but then Doug would shoot her. That wasn’t part of the plan. What was the plan?
“Don’t do it, Freyja,” Poppa said.
Gunnar put his hand on Big Doug’s gun arm and the weapon lowered. “Go ahead, little sister. I know you can do it.” Gunnar smiled. His eyes sparkled. “Pull the trigger, be free of me.”
“Freyja, look at me,” Poppa said. “Put the gun down.”
Freyja glanced around the room at the rest of the family. She could see Poppa struggling to get up, but everyone else was still like one of her photographs, the fear frozen on their faces. But something was wrong with this picture. They were all looking at her. They were afraid of her not Gunnar.
“Don’t worry about Doug,” Gunnar said. “I didn’t save you just to have you killed. Besides, I want you to witness how this family falls apart once I’m not pumping money into it.”
Guns, cameras, squeeze the trigger, press the shutter, one ends time for its subject, the other preserves it. Then time moves on. Her hands were slippery from clutching the grip. Her arms ached from holding the weapon out in front of her.
“You don’t want to be like him,” Poppa said.
“Poppa doesn’t get it does he, Free,” Gunnar said, his voice almost a whisper. “You are like me. Just like me. It’s in the genes.”
Gunnar was right. What stopped her from pulling the trigger was not morality, not the fear of eternal damnation, but real world consequences. That and the trauma it would cause her family. They wouldn’t understand she was doing it for their benefit as well as her own. They’d think her a monster, a sociopath, a person like…Gunnar. Did acknowledging this make her different from him? Maybe. Did it make her better than him? Nope.
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