Continual Resort Part #7 – Acquaintances

businessman holding briefcase

Image courtesy of Ambro at freedigitalphotos.net

John was led to a small booth in a private corner. He had asked to be seated in the smoking section due to his liking for a ‘square’ immediately after a meal and he was quite comfortable with the confined quarters which was surprisingly cleaner that he’d expected. Most smoking sections were often neglected seemingly as a rule as if to somehow convince smokers that they were helpless nicotine addicts who did not deserve to enjoy a nice meal in the same conditions that non-smokers enjoyed while still being charged the same.

He did not order an appetizer for the tomato soup had served its purpose as he proceeded to tell his waitress that he would have the day’s special with water. After thanking the waitress for his meal and upon being served, John savored the aroma that wafted straight from the plate to his nose. “I guess it’s pleasure time”, he said with a grin and dug in; knowing the compliments given later by him would be sincere.

John stifled the burp that escaped his digestive system…”Shit, that was good.” He spoke quietly as others watched him.  By this time, the waitress had made her rounds back to John’s booth. “Was everything okay for you sir?” John answered in his deep country accent, “Aw, yeah! Ever’thang was just fine! I ain’t had a meal like that in well…forever, haha! Jus’ happened ta run up on a lil cash, so I thought it fittin’ that I have a decent meal and ended up here. Matter of fact, I thank I’d like’ta pay my compliments to’tha chef if’n it’s alright with’ya.” The waitress giggled a little at the accent, but was glad that this man had enjoyed himself if only for the first time in his life. She felt as if she were but a small component contributing to the glimmer of light beaming ever so slightly in his otherwise dark and unfortunate lifestyle.

Just a tad apprehensive about what she should do exactly, Sandy decided that she would ask first before taking it upon herself to lead him to the kitchen area as John pulled his shades down with a questioning look in his eyes. The look compelled the compassionate young waitress to accommodate her customer who had given her a generous tip. She immediately went to the kitchen area to inform the staff about her customer. Donny was acting head chef and would be running the kitchen on this night and throughout his work week after introducing his new dish and putting Derrick in his place. “Listen, watch, and repeat, dude.” Derrick knew full well that he had to do as Donny told him if he intended to efficiently carry on later that weekend while accepting compliments that Donny had earned.

After a few minutes, Sandy returned as she said she would to lead John to where he wanted to be. “Are you ready sir?”

“Shore am, miss! Jus lead tha way!”

**

“Awww, naaawww! It’s John ain’t it?” With a short laugh Donny hurriedly wiped his hands on his apron before shaking hands; in total shock while also pleasantly surprised to see  John standing before him which meant that this poor man had bought himself a decent meal. He quickly pushed back the question of how the beggar had found his way downtown; realizing that people in this situation were city-contained nomads who mainly traveled a pedestrian’s tedious journey. Any suspicious reservations that Donny may have had about John were now gone because he knew that this man had nearly worn himself out to simply live a dream that the majority thought commonplace and took for granted on a regular basis. Elated that he had once again made John’s day brighter, he also told the beggar that his dinner was on the house.  If this dude can come in here willing to pay for his shit, I’ll be damned if I ain’t gonna bless him some kinda way! Donny’s religious upbringing mixed with his somewhat negative everyday outlook did not hinder him from being charitable.

“Ain’t this a surprise! Did you walk all the way down here? If so, then all I can do is thank you by lettin’ you have that dish on the house, man. You didn’t have to come back here just to compliment me… everybody deserves a good meal.”

“Well I shore do thank’ya! Hell, if I’d known you cooked like that, I’d be settin’ out there upside that Walmart beggin’ for leftovers…I don’t think Id’n ever had nothin’ that good b’fore! They both laughed at John’s joke.

“Actually John, that can be arranged. I’m gonna remember this the next time I see you in the hood. You oughta be able to catch a bus now that you don’t have to pay for dinner, so be safe once you get outta here. Ready for the tour?”

Donny had no problem showing the ragged man what he did for a living while also explaining that he was an aspiring writer to which John actually encouraged Donny to follow his dream. Their discussion was friendly and John was sincerely interested in what Donny told him. It gave him a sense of who this guy really was. Gathering this information would also benefit his investigative endeavors.

The two men laughed and shook hands again. John already knew the chef’s name, but he asked again. He felt that Donny was a genuine soul. However, he still had to do what he came to do.

The tour was a brief one, but it had allowed him to carry out his mission in both the kitchen as well as the office. Surveillance would be no problem, and all of his plans would be put into motion by tonight’s performance.

In their own separate existences,  John and Donny had a feeling of satisfaction once the night was done. They had both done their jobs, while also sharing the same comforting feeling of accomplishment due their expertise despite neither of them knowing the full truth about each other – especially on Donny’s end.

Upon returning back to his shack in the woods,  John made a quick call to simply say, “Done.”

**

Later that night after closing, Donny came home to wait for Linda to return from taking Brianne back to Sheralyn’s house. It did not take long for her to return and she was in a good mood. She made drinks for the both of them while Donny rolled an ample joint. Over several drinks and one more smoke, they discussed the events of Linda’s day with their baby as well as Donny’s evening with surprise as well as some unexpected excitement.

Linda had said that she was proud of Donny for keeping his brother in line, both of them knowing if these two ever actually engaged in a real fight that Donny would more than likely be the winner, but she was so happy that everything went well with the special. Linda’s inward thoughts about Donny and Derrick fighting were outwardly expressed by a long and seemingly uncontrollable laugh at the mental picture that had emerged in her mind. Donny knew that it was simply because she was high and ended up laughing with her. “Yeah, you right baby…his ass would be grass!”

The couple also discussed Donald’s absence which happened more and more each week. “You know my dad…ain’t no tellin’ what kinda mess he’s into – probably some ratched female again, but who cares…I did my thang!” Linda promptly agreed just before the subject of John’s appearance at ‘Robertson’s’ came into the conversation. Linda laughed as Donny repeated John’s jokes in his mocking accent. They both agreed that they now knew where the money that they had given John had been spent on, and for that, Linda was glad that their beggar had a nice day which they had contributed to. They both went to bed wondering what their next visit with John would be like.

***

Donald had made his deposit at the bank and sped home to get to his office. He could not be late for this call, nor for dinner. He seriously was not in the mood for Jesse’s questioning him about why he was always so late coming home when the boys were the main ones running the restaurant nowadays. Knowing that his wife was prone to a reaction of suspicion, he would simply tell her that everything was alright and that he’d had more business to take care of than usual and that everything at ‘Robertson’s’ was just fine.

As usual, he ate his dinner and talked with his wife until she was ready to take her meds and go to bed. With a sigh of relief, Donald realized that he was actually on time and went quickly to the bonus room which was conveniently upstairs; set off and away from their bedroom. Derrick only came back to use his old bedroom (which was also upstairs) when he needed money, to talk about business, or to vent his frustrations about his brother. He had not needed any money lately because Donald had raised his salary yet again, trying to ease Derrick’s frustrations which came from living above his means, but his father did not care. As long as Derrick did as he was told, he had no qualms about the boy’s behavior. Every young man needs to sow his wild oats is what Donald always told Derrick and he obeyed this command religiously.

Now settled in his office with the privacy that he so needed, Donald made a phone call. “Is this a good time for you?” Upon a positive answer from the receiver of this call, the awaited discussion began.

“Well…now that’s out-of-the-way, what kind of news do you have for me tonight. I need to know if we’re making progress because it’s time to get the ball rollin’. The money’s ready so I just need to know when you are, and it better be soon.”

“Sir, these things take time. I have to work my way up to – ”

“I don’t want to hear anything more about time! Time is something that we are running out of! I am not paying you to work your way up do a damn thing. You are getting paid to do exactly what I tell you, so maybe you should rephrase whatever you were about to say.” Everyone that Donald knew was familiar with his pushy attitude. His wife, children, and business partners alike. He did not accept ‘no’ very well as an answer to anything.

“Well, alright sir. My plan was to speak with her again on next week, because she did sound hopeful and agreed to speak with me again, but I guess Friday would be more to your liking. I’ll make my proposal on that day and see how she reacts, but you’ve got to understand the other aspect of the situation. If you are expecting more from this, it will take some time. Please believe me when I say that I have a good plan in mind.”

Donald was somewhat calmed by the explanation. “Now that’s better. Yes…Friday sounds much better…right on time in fact. I’ll make sure that the checks are written up for you so that next week, everything will be in motion and I assume that you know what to do about the other.”

“Yes sir…don’t worry, I have everything under control.”

With a short condescending laugh, Donald answered, “Well that’s where you’re wrong Steve. I, Donald Robertson have everything under control and the plan that you speak of is actually my plan, so I would be much obliged if you would keep that in mind from this day forward. All you need to do is be ready with your briefcase, your nice suit paid for by me, and your wavy-ass hair. Understood?”

Steve’s answer was a simple – ‘yes sir’ before they both hung up. Donald leaned back in his swivel chair while twirling an ink pen, smiling in satisfaction to what would occur in the near future. She’ll go for it…I’ll bring the trashy side out of that bitch yet. What are you gonna do then son? Haha…you’ll do exactly what I say, that’s what you’ll do. 

Donald’s thoughts followed him to bed where he found his wife sleeping as soundly as always. The coming weekend would go as he commanded, they would attend church as usual, and all else would soon fall into place. He laid down and let out a comforting sigh just when the telephone by his bedside rang. “What the hell…hello?”

The voice on the other end made Donald freeze. He thought his heart would stop right then and there while propped on one elbow.

“Why, hello dear father…your precious illegitimate daughter is back in town and can’t wait to see you.”

“Chelsea?”

“Of course it’s me daddy! You know, the one who was never allowed to live anything except what you demanded? Yep, I’m the one – unless there’s another one out there somewhere, but the one you’re speaking to now is Chelsea – glad to be talking to you again. You haven’t forgotten me have you? Of course you haven’t, you just wished you could, but that won’t be happening. Anyway, you’ll be seeing me soon…but I won’t be setting up an appointment with you like everyone else apparently has to, so let’s just say that I’ll see you on – whenever.”

Donald slammed the cordless so hard

on its receiver that Jesse stirred in her sleep. He assured her that he’d knocked the phone down while reaching over to put his glasses on the nightstand. Donald’s wife turned over and went back into her deep slumber while he stared at the ceiling in astonishment. This cannot be happening, but it is. “I’ll take care of this too.” Donald quietly made the statement to himself before drifting off to sleep…not so much at ease now.

 

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Aside

Continual Resort|Part 6 – Dandelion Season

This installment is also inspired by Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday|Pick a Title. I’m working on one of the twists in this one so enjoy!

Continual Resort|Part #6 – Dandelion Season

Dandelion season

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The rest of Donny and Linda’s weekend had gone off without a hitch. Brianne had thoroughly enjoyed riding her da-da’s back around the apartment and playing with building blocks while learning her letters at the same time. The two young parents had spent quality time with their baby as well as with each other – it was the way things should be. There were no arguments, no misunderstandings, and no partying for that matter. It seemed that this relationship had always been that of blissful togetherness from day one, but they both knew that this was not the case howbeit, each one had their own problems that they somehow did not speak of, but rather self-medicated what ailed them mentally and emotionally, but this particular weekend had gone by peacefully and quite enjoyably.

Donny had brought in the pc, monitor, and keyboard from his car and set it up in their front room where he usually did his writing. Although his father had given him a hand-me-down of sorts, he was still glad that he would be able to save time, gas, and his cramped hand from writing everything all the time on paper and would now have the privilege to peck his words out and save them in the comfort of his home without having to listen to his father’s rants. The only time that he’d be dealing with Donald would be at work only, and for that he was glad. He could kill two birds with one stone by tolerating his father and brother at the same time, and then his destination would be – away.

He had already set his appointment for the technician to install his internet service for the following Monday when Linda would be home while he was at work. He was sure that his father had already replaced his old computer with a more expensive device, but Donny would not be going to his father’s house to save anything this weekend. He would simply have to write everything out for one last week and wait until his own system was up and running because we was not yet ready for whatever the payback would be for Donald’s nice gesture that was sure to have strings attached.

Just as he would not be paying his father a visit, he would also not be having any company from Derrick who frequented their apartment to bring them their ‘package’, drink with them, and end up crashing on the couch. He had seen the way Derrick looked at Linda and he didn’t like it one bit. He also was not comfortable with his brother constantly referring to his woman as ‘sweetheart’, so he would deal with his brother at work just as he would Donald and that would be the end of it. On many occasions, Donny had thought about asking Linda if his brother had ever said anything out-of-the-way to her, but he didn’t because of the fact that he trusted her. He was sure that Linda was not even remotely flattered by his brother’s flirtatious ways and he was sure that Derrick’s actions were just another way to get under his skin. He was determined to keep relatives out of his personal business due to that blackout incident which stemmed from Donald once again telling him something negative about Linda.

How could he talk about her this way when he never even attempted to hold a decent conversation with her? Donny vowed internally that his father could speak as he pleased, but from now on, saying bad things about Linda would not be allowed – at all. He made this vow to himself as his mind went back to just a few days ago when everything had fallen apart simply because of the hearsay that he now promised himself would never be allowed to rise up again. Donny did not want to have thoughts that angered him on his way to work, but he felt it necessary to free himself of this issue once and for all, but still…he wondered…

That Friday night after work, Donny had gone to his parents’ house to finish typing up and saving his lyrics when Donald informed him that he had something to say that he really needed to hear.

Donald told him that as he drove past ‘Sweet Styles’, he saw Linda outside the salon with a thirty-something, wavy haired, expensive suit wearing white man with a briefcase, and that they were standing so close to each other that it was impossible for them to not know each other… “Well son, they say once you go black you never go back…I guess in your case this is not so.” Donald’s demeanor had been calm and quite smug, but his attitude suddenly changed when Donny looked at him with a ‘so what’ attitude. Donald’s demeanor was now heated. “I told you boy…you keep walkin’ around with that trailer park trash like you got somethin’, but you look like a damn fool!  I don’t have a reason to lie, but you must like it, so keep on, but make sure that you don’t come runnin’ back to me thinkin’ that I won’t say – I told you so!”

At that very moment, Donny’s heart sank, but he let his father know that he would be the last person on Earth that he would ever consider running to for anything. He knew that his father had no reason to lie, but he also knew that lying would not be beneath his dear old dad for the sake of complete control.

Knowing this is what caused Donny’s confusion, discomfort, and unease. As he made his way to work, his thoughts arose yet again…”If she was talkin’ to somebody, who could it be and why would she lie?” His suspicion had grown from remembering the day that his father spoke of when Linda had told him that she was late coming home because the salon had so many walk-ins, so what Donald said actually made sense. This is what prompted him to stupidly come home and question her but she had been so ‘lit’ from the liquor and weed that she’d lost her temper (in a big way)…she was uncontrollable…a storm of fists flailing at his chest until she caught him smack in his left eye.

It seemed as if Donny was more surprised by his immediate reaction than Linda was when his reflexes drove him to strike her; almost unknowingly. Pain and guilt overcame him once he had ‘come to’, but Linda’s angry glare held a sense of understanding. This told him that no matter what may be going on with Linda that he didn’t know about didn’t really matter – unless Linda actually had something to hide…did she? Donny’s mind was trapped by this question during his blackout. He simply could not bare the thought of one more person that he loved to have betrayed him.

As he pulled into his reserved parking space at ‘Robertson’s’, the older brother prepared himself for Derrick’s downplay of the new dish that would be introduced to the staff. With the exception of the owner of this facility, Donny’s innovative ideas was what kept the menu up to date although Derrick got credit for it. Somehow, he did not care, but today he would be sure to let little brother know to either shit or get off of the pot and keep his mouth shut so that the rest of the staff could get what they came for and so that he would be able to keep the dish going over the weekends. After all, Derrick was the one who needed to know the dish like the back of his hand if he wanted customers to continue sending him compliments. The mahi-mahi with pineapple and mango salsa was sure to be another hit on the list, and Donny would rest well knowing that a large part of ‘Robertson’s’ currently growing clientele was due to his own creativity and talent. Well prepared to keep Derrick in line and help the staff to prepare, Donny wrote out his plans in the office and headed to the kitchen. He expected his father to be there, but for some reason he was absent. He decided that he would still introduce the dish to staff and show his father later. Donny also hoped that maybe his father would actually be happy for once with what he’d done as opposed to ignoring his creations and congratulating Derrick for being such a wonderful chef. “Whether he do or don’t, it’s still my shit, so oh, well.” With that thought in mind, Donny began his work day.

***

The twenty-minute walk across the street, up the hill, and into the field had become such a commonplace task that it was no longer considered exercise although this brief trek was still beneficial to his cardiovascular system. On days like this when the air was warm and partnered with a light breeze, it caused the field to from a short distance resemble a sunny winter’s afternoon with snowflakes drifting as if there were no ground on which to land, but rather riding the wind’s current until reaching their final resting place somewhere far away. It was dandelion season.

The soft hiss of tall blades of grass swaying under the breeze was an all too familiar sound as his footsteps followed the worn path between the grass to the small, tattered shack’s front door which was seldom locked.  This almost lean-to like establishment was hidden from the public due to the pines, oaks, and other various trees and foliage that blocked the view of the winding back road which would lead a driver the long way around and up the incline to this area. There were about two more very small houses hidden farther back that could only be reached by walking through the field, but they had been empty for many years as most poverty-stricken residents had moved to the trailer park for better housing, but this one little shack had stood for decades and was still well occupied.

One dented and small pot with a broken handle sat atop the 70’s model stove which amazingly still worked. One would not think that this humble abode had electricity, but the power lines that ran from the back road proved otherwise. He heated a dented can of tomato soup while searching for his spoon that would not be dipped into a bowl, but straight into the pot. His newspaper would be read while sitting in the old lopsided wooden chair set at it’s even older companion of a table which was found on a side street. He would eat more later, but for the time being, he would relax. Business mixed with a little pleasure would come later.

Just after gulping down the last drops of the now cooling liquid from his pot, he was now ready for work. Once again, he had read the same article found in his ten-year-old newspaper that he’d kept from day one. Never imagining the connection that would arise eight years later and change everything, his determination to end it once and for all was his daily mission. With his wife and son long dead, there was no need to sit comfortably in a nice house with all the fixings. He had screwed up royally because of his weakness, but no longer would he be this way.

He’d lost everything in his life that he had ever loved – “Almost.” He silently corrected his thoughts. There was still a reason to have hope; it was the hope of being able to protect, to set things right, even to love again.  No longer was he the sorrowful soul from the past and he was ready to settle the score once and for all…or die trying.

By this time, late evening had rolled around. It was time for him to be on his way, so he put on his blue tooth headset so that he would be ready for the call that came each evening like clockwork. The call came as soon he had settled himself inside the black luxury pick-up with windows so darkly tinted that the driver could not easily be seen.

“Main suspect has exited the building…two accomplices remain with six others out back. Closing time. Transaction done and suspect is headed west. The coast is clear so it’s time.”

The voice on the other end spoke quickly.

“I’m on it.” This was all he said in answer to the update. There was a job to do and he knew exactly where he was headed. First, he would order a nice dinner – whatever the special was and ask to be allowed a brief visit to the chef to shake his hand and offer his compliments. He had two options. Either the entrance to the kitchen or the office would be the site for the surveillance device to be planted.

With a mental diagram mapped out of what would take place on this night, ‘John’ parked his truck in a hidden alley that was two streets away from his destination. He walked calmly past tourists, and regulars who were out for a night of fun. Some going out to eat, and others out to drink themselves into oblivion, but none of this mattered. His time had been calculated and he would do exactly what was planned. “Here we go.” Was all that was said as John opened the door, walked in, and waited to be seated. He knew that there would be questioning eyes and strange looks, but this was the way he wanted it, because it all worked in with the plan. The line in the waiting area was not as long as he thought it would be and as soon as the couple in front of him were led to their table, another hostess promptly came to greet him with a smile which left her face immediately until she quickly regained her composure. Her pasted smile returned.

“Hello sir…welcome to Robertson’s…”

Aside

Continual Resort – Part #5| Phone Call at Midnight

Hey WP! I am moving at a snail’s pace with my story, but I have finally gathered my thoughts and I THINK that I am ready to move on. August was a crazy month for me, so I am playing catch-up with everything…reading, writing – everything! So this installment is from 3 weeks ago (I think) where Kellie Elmore prompted her followers to ‘pick a title’ and I used ‘Phone Call at Midnight’ for part 5 and I’m actually thinking about using all the other titles for future installments, so thank you Kellie! I hope you guys can forgive my ‘lateness’ but I will eventually get back on track. In the meantime, here is installment 5 of Continual Resort.

‘Phone Call at Midnight’

Linda and her baby were home now. She had filled Brianne’s wading pool with water from their next door neighbor’s water hose and Brianne along with the neighbor’s child splashed accordingly. Linda assured Patrice that the kids would be fine while she watched them as Patrice heated chicken nuggets and french fries inside. Linda had already brought home plenty of Kool-Aid packs and chips to add to their meal, but her mind could not veer from the strange questioning from ‘John’ as he called himself. She wondered about his past. How had he come to be a beggar? The strange thing was that she hardly ever saw him at the store at night, but during the day he’d be there like clockwork. Did he have another spot during the evening, or did he actually have somewhere to live. Linda noticed that despite John’s repeated ensemble of wrinkled jeans and t-shirt, he did not look very dirty, just extremely rough around the edges. He had really thrown her for a loop by starting up their chat that morning.

“Why had he been so serious, and why had he looked at her that way? Well next time, I may have a few questions for him.” Linda thought aloud. She had no problem giving someone who was homeless a couple of dollars, but she would not tolerate some con man taking what little she had while also dipping into her personal life. “Even if I’m not alright, what can he do about it?” Still, there was something very strange about this guy who sat casually in front of Walmart during the day and who knew where else otherwise…something strange and hauntingly familiar.

Linda shook off her suspicions as she wrapped the two small girls with an extra-large towel to dry them off so that they could have their lunch. Mere seconds before Linda was ready to lead the two happy squealing girls into her neighbor’s apartment, Patrice  pushed her back door open with her shoulder while carrying a tray loaded with nuggets and fries. “They can have their chips for a snack before bed.” Patrice grinned, glad that her daughter’s playmate had returned for the weekend.

“I decided that we may as well eat out here since everybody’s having so much fun!” “Girl, you’re just crazy! ” Linda laughed before making her next statement, “I already dried them off, and we could have come in as usual, but have it your way!”

There was a small card table set directly at Linda and Donny’s back door where Patrice set the tray and as if performing a magic trick, also pulled a bottle of ketchup from under her arm and set it at the center of the table.

Linda un-stacked the lawn chairs and set them at the table so that all four of them would have a seat as opposed to holding the girls in their laps.  The two barefooted two-year-olds gladly allowed Linda to help them into their chairs.  They all sat and enjoyed their midday meal as the babies sang their own muddled renditions of their favorite songs that all toddlers love. Neither of them were allowed to watch music videos and the only time that any hardcore rap music graced their little ears was when Donny or Patrice’s boyfriend had the urge to listen to loud beats from the speakers of their sound systems in one apartment while the children played in the other. They all tried to make sure that they were careful about what the kids heard and would eventually repeat, but by Donny being an aspiring lyricist some things were simply unavoidable such as the loud music that also resonated throughout their complex from other neighbors which they had no choice but to abide.

“Koo-wade, mama!” Brianne fully remembered that her mother had bought her favorite drink from the store, and she was now ready for it. Linda excused herself from their little table  to retrieve the drinks from her freezer…soon after coming out with a pack for each picnic attendee. Linda and Patrice opened and inserted the small straws into the pack for their daughters as well as their own as they discussed sending Taylor – Patrice’s daughter to the daycare center that Linda had Brianne enrolled in now that Patrice had finally found a job. She assured her friend that Taylor would be fine because her mother worked at the high school and would bring her home with Brianne. Patrice would only need to swing by and pick Taylor up when she got off work. That way the girls could have more time together.

Linda thought inwardly that once she became a salon owner, she would be able to pick up her own baby at a reasonable hour instead of just weekends and days off, but to make her heart lighter, she continued to joke with her friend.  “You can finally let go, and let God, girl!” They laughed casually at Patrice’s reservations about being separated from Taylor, but the issue of violence and accidents in public facilities for children was real despite their joking.

Linda felt a sense of pride in knowing that her mother cared enough to help her as well as her friend.

With the two babies apparently too full to enjoy their cakes for dessert, Patrice and Linda decided that they would dress the girls in dry clothes and put them down for a nap if possible. They thanked each other for a nice day before retreating to their assigned abodes to which Taylor went fast asleep, but Brianne insisted that she needed to watch ‘Spongebob’. Linda was glad that she kept children’s DVD’s for this very purpose, and her baby was fully occupied during the wait for Donny’s arrival.

He came in with the same attitude as usual on the weekend. He set their bottle of vodka on the kitchen counter and tossed the dime bag of weed right into Linda’s hands which she caught like a pro. She stashed her supply and came back up front to see how Donny’s day at his father’s house had gone, although she knew that it would not be good…it never was.

“What did you pick up to eat?” Linda had no intentions on cooking. It was Saturday so she knew that Donny had picked up fast food from somewhere. “I stopped by the restaurant…that’s where I saw Derrick of course. You wanna drink first or eat?” Linda declined both options as she was still full from lunch. She would eat something later. “Where’s Bri?” ” Donny made his way to his daughter’s bedroom where he found her lying on a blanket on the floor fast asleep. He knelt to kiss her forehead before returning to the kitchen where Linda sat at their small dinette table to hear the events of Donny’s day. Linda was surprised that Donny had not made himself a drink as he usually did, but sat at the table and began to speak.

“Shit’s been weird today. First of all, Dad wasn’t as much of an ass as he usually is. I didn’t get a sermon today, but he did have some questions. For some reason he was acting like he was interested in my work and get this – he said that he’s buying a new computer and that I can have his old one. All I have to do is pay for internet service. Can you believe it? I was in fucking shock at first and then I thought about it. I accepted the computer…it’s out there in the car, but I know there’s gonna be something else to this shit. I don’t know what he’s gonna want from me later, but hell – he’s still giving Derrick the fucking world, so tossing a used computer at me is the least he can do.”

Donny’s younger brother Derrick had done all that their father had asked of him. He graduated high school with honors and had also finished culinary school which landed him the position as head cook at Robertson’s, their father’s successful restaurant of 18 years which was in the downtown area. During their high school years, both boys were subjected to Donald’s long speeches about how hard it had been for him to pull himself up by his own bootstraps and make something of himself, which was not easy for a black man trying to start and keep his own business. Donny’s mind had always been set on becoming a famous writer while Derrick took all that his father told him and followed in his footsteps. He had been the perfect son. Never a harsh word between him and his father as when Donald told him to jump, Derrick asked how high.

Can a man love and hate his own brother? Donny had pondered this thought for years to avoid his underlying feelings of jealousy. Why couldn’t his father love him for who he was and simply accept his choices on who he had in his life as well as what he wanted to do with his life?

Shaking off this thought, Donny continued to talk about how busy the restaurant was and that he was glad to be off. He worked during the week as Derrick’s assistant. Donny knew that his skills were just as if not far better than his brother’s but he would continue working for, though not with his father while Derrick kept the title as long as necessary because he wanted no part in owning anything with his father and certainly not his brother. His day would come sooner or later. He was just having a hard time dealing with the fact that sooner was actually not in the plan.

While still going over the day’s events, Donny’s blackout never came up. The two of them continued on as if it had never happened , but somehow she knew that he simply could not help himself and was genuinely sorry for what he had done. She had seen that miserably guilt ridden expression on her father’s face many times, but never had the opportunity to find out what had caused him to be such a tormented soul. However, she knew exactly what Donny’s problem was and she knew that if she had not thrown the first blow while in a drunken stupor, the situation would probably be non-existent.

Linda listened patiently as Donny went on, but the next thing he said made her straighten her slightly slumped posture. “You know that old dude that sits at Walmart every day? Well, he was sitting in front of the liquor store across the lot and decided to hold a running conversation with me – well not really a conversation, but he was asking questions like he really knows me or somethin’. Stuff like – how’s the job goin’ fer ya, and even how’s my love life? I was polite and just gave some general answers , but I just thought that it was a little weird. I guess since we’re pretty much his best ‘givers’, he just wanted to shoot the shit a little you know – just to be nice, but still.”

“It is weird ’cause when I went to the store this morning, he did the same thing to me!”

Donny asked Linda how their conversation went and soon after, they both shrugged of their suspicions of John being a con artist and decided that this was his way of saying thank you for the dollars that he received from them on an almost daily basis.

Linda told her live-in boyfriend to not worry about Derrick and just keep working at the restaurant until he got his big break. “All you need is a paycheck. Things are gonna change for us both someday…I just know it.”

“I sure do hope you’re right ’cause right now I just don’t see it but shit’s gonna change one way or the other…I just hope it’s not for the worst for some reason.”

Linda hated it when Donny spoke that way because it was if he could see into the future. Each time that he became wary about ‘something’ happening, it usually did. Although she wondered why Mr. Robertson couldn’t stand the sight of her she never let it bother her. He could be an ass all he wanted to as long as he didn’t say anything to her which he never did. He always expressed his unwarranted disgust for her with his son. Linda knew full well that Donny’s strained relationship with his father as well as his close-mouthed mother played a big part in his anger issues, but she vowed to always keep the secret about dear little brother Derrick. In her opinion, he was the real and true ass. It was obvious to Linda and Donny both that his younger brother was no angel, him being the regular provider of their supply of herbal smokes, but not even Donny knew what a snake he really was and she intended to keep it that way – hopefully.

She would never forget when she came to realize the type of person Derrick was due to an unexpected, surprising, and infuriating on her part but apparently well thought out (on Derrick’s part) –  phone call at midnight.

Aside

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