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Monday, August 18, 2014

Chapter 15



A couple of older men stomped into the room and they almost took my breath.  Right away I knew those men had my life in their hands.  One walked right up to me and I expected to be slapped.  Roman must have thought the same thing because he moved to stand in front of me.  The older man growled, “You’ve already proven to be a disappointment.  Don’t make things worse.” 

“Dad, you don’t know what you look like when you get like this.  I know you’d never hit a woman but Thorn doesn’t.  That’s what she is waiting for.  Waiting for me to be wrong about us being different from the other men she’s known.” 

It was the older man’s head that rocked back like he’d been slapped and I watched him ball his fist up and couldn’t stand it.  My fight came back.  “I swear you really are crazy Roman.  I told you to stop doing this.  It isn’t worth it.  Is this how you got all beat up?  Was it not Alex after all?  Fighting with your brother is one thing, but … but this is another.  Learn to pick your battles or you are going to get stomped to smithereens.  Now knock it off.” 

Roman turned to stare at me then said, “I told you we are different.” 

“You told me Alex used to be different too but now he’s not.  You told me not to judge you or the others by Alex … and I’m trying.  But you’re forgetting that people change from one day to the next; sometimes from one moment to the next.  Just accept it Roman and stop sticking your chin out for someone to hit.  One of these days someone is going to hit you so hard you aren’t going to get back up.” 

It was a face off.  I wouldn’t give and neither would he.  I don’t know what would have happened but Saul growled, “Are you two finished dancing yet?  You argue more than anything I’ve ever seen.  Listen kid …” 

“I told you I’m not a kid.” 

“You are if I say you are and right now, until you prove otherwise, you are a kid no matter what your current condition is.  Unless of course you want to tell me how old you really are.” 

“To quote something Alex said, it doesn’t matter and I’m obviously old enough.” 

Saul snorted and said, “Less I hear about Alex the better.  This isn’t about him.” 

“Huh?” I asked.  “Wait, I thought … well … Roman said his dad would want answers and that is why I came.  I mean …” 

I looked around confused and Roman looked confused too.  “Yeah, where is Alex?” 

Saul sighed and looked to Roman’s father who just stood there looking like a piece of mossy granite.  Then he looked at another man and he stepped forward.  Roman looked at the man and asked, “David, what’s going on?” 

“Alex got caught cooking some … some stuff up in his bedroom.” 

“Cooking what up?  What’s going on?” 

I looked at the man called David and all the rest of them and then looked at Roman who still looked confused.  I put my hand on his arm.  “It seems they might have found a reason why Alex wasn’t being like you remember him being.” 

“What are you talking about?” 

I looked at Saul and realized I’d have to be the one to tell Roman. “Alex must have gotten hooked on something.  He never did it around me though he did act a little crazy every once in a while so he probably hasn’t been hooked for long.  It would explain why he lost interest … uh … why he … hmmm …  I thought it was because he was just in a pout about getting beat up by Emerald’s enforcers.  Maybe there is more to it.  And if you said that there was a lot of money missing it would explain that too.”   

“No.” 

I just shrugged.  I’ve forgotten more about how real family works than I now remember Bean.  I hope to relearn what I forgot with you but what I do remember is that people want to think the best things about their family.  And I know that Roman is kinda different and crazy so maybe he’d want to think the best of his family even more than most.  That’s one of the reasons why I take the things he says with a grain of salt.  Not because I think he is lying on purpose but because he wants what he says to be the truth so much he might miss that it isn’t. 

“No.  Not Alex.  Not after Patty …” 

There was that name again.  I saw a couple of people look everywhere but at Roman but it didn’t tell me much more than I already knew which is that Patty was someone important to Roman. 

He looked at Saul then at David then at his Dad who was looking at him like he was a piece of puzzle that had maybe gotten stuck in the wrong slot.  Roman said, “Dad?” 

Gruffly Roman’s father said, “It’s true.  Happened after you left to go get … her.  Claimed at first he was going to commit suicide because no one believed his side of things, that your mother and Patty were breaking his heart, choosing to believe some dock prostitute instead of him.  He wasn’t … rational.  Then Terry took a look at what he’d been cooking and said there wasn’t enough there to OD on, barely enough there to do much more than take the edge off for a new addict.  That’s when …” 

“No.  No way.  Where is he?  This is just another one of his games.” 

“Son, this is not a game.  Terry said that he got a look at him real good this time and under the bruising of where you two fought there’s … there’s evidence that this has been going on for a while.  Maybe not a long while but … but long enough.” 

Roman moaned. “No.  No he wouldn’t do that.  No, not with Patty …” 

“Who’s Patty?” I asked. 

Just about everyone in the room jumped.  Most of them looked like I’d spit on Jesus or something.  “Uh … never mind.” 

Roman looked at me and said, “It’s ok.  Patty is Alex’s wife.” 

My mouth must have fallen open because Saul chuckled sadly.  “Kid …” 

“Stop calling me that.  It sounds dumb.  It’s not so much that a guy who had a wife would have a side woman, that’s pretty common.  It’s … well … it’s that Alex in particular is married.  I never would have guessed.  He never said nothing about any other female but his momma.  I actually thought there weren’t any out here except for her and all the rest of you men.  I didn’t even know about Missy until Roman and Fletcher got onto me for not talking nice enough.  It makes me wonder what else he’s been not saying.  Not telling you all about me after he got beat up – which I still say is stupid and got him in more trouble than he needed to get in although that was before I found out about Bean.  Then me not knowing about the loan shark that Roman says you all found out about.  The drug that none of us knew about … and now he’s got a wife on top of it?  Geez, how many different lives does Alex have and who all did he live them with?  Oh and just to notch the weird up a bit I didn’t know about Roman and Alex being twins until they started fighting about who was born first.  I mean how can you not mention that you’re a twin?  Well …,” I said turning to Roman.  “At least you aren’t identical twins.  That would be completely freaky.  I’m not sure I could even imagine some of the things you’ve said coming out of a head that looked like Alex.”  I shuddered then had to slap a hand over my mouth and run out the door and puke in the bushes.” 

When I finally stopped heaving I muttered, “Don’t think about that no more ever Bean.  It’s like having a twister in my head.  End of story.” 

I almost fell off the porch when Roman handed me a bandana. “It’s clean.” 

“Uh …” 

“C’mon.  Dad wants to ask you some stuff.  He’s confused and he doesn’t like that.  But they aren’t going to hit you Thorn.  They’re just shook up.” 

“Fine, but you know the deal.” 

“I know.  If you think someone is going to hurt Bean you’ll fight.” 

“And I won’t go back to that life.  I mean it Roman.  I won’t.  I’m going to take care of Bean and I’m going to teach them what safe means.” 

“I know that too.  C’mon and sit down, you’ve got that nasty pasty color look again.” 

“So?  It’s not like I’m out looking for a customer.” 

Roman sighed.  “Do you really have to say things like that?” 

“Do you really have to act so weird and care what I say?” 

Saul stuck his head out and said, “You two.  In.  Now.  Or I’ll put you in separate corners.  Dammit Roman, act your age.  You’re twenty-two for God’s sake, not twelve with the hots for the new girl on the block.” 

I looked at Roman and started backing up.  “Thorn …” 

“You … no … you said you … not like … you …” 

“Thorn!  Listen to me.  I won’t hurt Bean.  I won’t.  Didn’t I say that?  Didn’t I say this was a safe place?  Isn’t this the safe you want?” 

It was over as quick as it started and I felt really, really stupid Bean.  I did.  But then I was seeing spots and the spots turned to stars and then …

4 comments:

  1. i realy enjoy your writing.have you thought of a guy being the story.like the one book in the little house stories?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great story Kathy thanks
    Waynhe

    ReplyDelete