The three boys came into the school and immediately began shooting. When all was said and done, four people had been killed and fourteen people had been shot--including Nicki.
"She unconscious right now," the doctor told Irene, Joe and Querty. "She was hit in the shoulder but she lost a lot of blood. We're certain she'll pull through but we're gonna keep her in the ER until she's stable and then we'll move her to ICU."
"Okay," Irene nodded. Joe held her.
"She'll be fine. Nicki's tough," Querty said.
"I know but it's still scary. Parents should never have to live through something like this happening to their child. It's not fair," Irene said.
Shirley, along with Kip and Buddy, arrived at the ER. Shirley hugged Irene. "How is she?" she asked.
"She's unconscious. She's lost a lot of blood but the doctor is pretty sure she'll be fine," Irene said.
"Well, that's good," Shirley said.
"They should be moving her up to ICU soon so I'm gonna head up and reserve our space," Joe said and he and Querty departed.
"I think we should do it now," Shirley said in a hushed voice.
"What?" Irene was confused.
"The intervention, to get rid of Querty," Shirley said.
"I don't know if we should do it here. Nicki would want to be a part of it," Irene said.
"We got everyone here. Why not? Nicki would love it if she were to come out of her coma and not have Querty around," Shirley described.
"Nicki's not in a coma..." said Irene.
"I say we do it," Buddy said. "Especially because if he gets mad, he can't do anything to us because we're in a hospital and there's life-saving equipment here."
Everyone nodded in agreement.
Nicki was moved to ICU and the Shamus' along with Buddy and Kip took over the ICU waiting room. Every so often someone would go in and check on Nicki in-between watching television. Joe and Querty went more than the others but Joe was the most quiet. Querty tended to talk more than anyone else.
"Wait a minute! Why do we care who the mother is? And why is Bob Saget the narrator?" Querty complained.
"All right, Querty," Kip began. "You've met your pop culture quota for the evening."
"Okay, we're doing this," Shirley stood up and walked over to Joe and stood in front of him so she blocked his view of the TV.
"Down in front," Querty said.
"Quiet, Querty. Shirley, what's up?" Joe asked.
"We need to talk. We all need to talk," Shirley said and looked at everyone in the room.
"Okay, let's talk. What about? Does Nicki need my kidney?" Joe asked.
"It's about Querty," Buddy said.
"If it's about me, then how come you're not talking to me?" Querty asked.
"That's the problem, Joe...and Querty. Querty isn't real. He's a sock puppet. He's just a sock with eyes sown on him," Kip said.
"I don't know..." Joe began.
"Your father and I should've stopped it when you were younger but when it started being a problem, you stopped. I never thought it would return," Irene said.
"So do you all have a problem with Querty?" Joe asked.
Everyone nodded their head.
"Well, I'm glad you all told me, I..."
"Wait just a minute," Querty shouted. "Just because I'm a puppet doesn't mean I'm bad. Think about it, when Joe was a kid and I first appeared, what caused me to appear? That bully Greg Antonucci pushed Joe off the jungle gym and everyone laughed even though Joe fractured his arm. And what caused me to reappear?"
"The death of his..." Buddy began but was cut off by Querty.
"The death of his father, that's right. So before you go calling me names and insulting Joe here, take a moment to question what I am actually doing for him. I am helping him through this tough time just as you all should be," Querty said.
Everyone looked ashamed and Shirley quietly apologized to Querty.
"So why don't we just accept the sock puppet that nobody likes for now and maybe we can learn to love each other while we grow old together," Querty said.
"What is wrong with you?" Joe asked him.
Nicki had been awake the last couple of hours and was in her hospital room watching TV. The news began with breaking news. "Former Principal Jason Anschutz was arrested today for conspiracy in connection with the Williamsburg High School shooting. Mr. Anschutz, who was arrested earlier this month for allegedly having sex with a student at the high school."
Nicki smiled and teared up and turned off the TV.
Across the room, Joe slept in a chair, his left hand devoid of Querty who was back at the house on Joe's bed.