The absence of ground coffee, (Maxwell House, instant. He wasn’t picky.) sent Dominic Santos to ShopRite, but not before he calculated the budget. Since he was able to add and subtract, Dom had managed his struggling family’s finances- because their mother was too tired, Damien was too irresponsible and Emeline didn’t know any better. He had since mastered the art of managing money when he became Emeline’s legal guardian- he was always this figure to her, even when there wasn’t a title around it.
As he entered the sliding double doors, he found it odd that he was grocery shopping in an actual supermarket- in Detroit, he always went to the corner stores. Because for most of his life, that was all they were able to afford. Not to mention, it was closer- because the large supermarkets were pretty much reserved for the area around Ford Field (The Lion’s stadium), the small pocket of wealth that housed the Hilton Garden Inn.
Despite the transition from Detroit to Nowheresville, West Virginia being a huge one… he had grown to like Cabin Creek. It was very quiet- from his apartment at Hallowsgate, not a single beeping car horn or gunshot could be heard. And thus, he actually had time to think- the only safety he had to worry about were that of the patients and staff at the hospital. Emeline would have loved this little town…
As he tried to silence the sinking guilt around his ‘daughter’/sister, something caught his eye. He was in the wrong aisle, he could see that, but he stopped, picking up the object slowly and sadly. It was a box of children’s Motrin, cherry flavored, and a memory sprouted its ugly head through the dormant coffin…
”Seven ninety-nine,” The fat man grumbled behind the counter.
Twelve-year-old Dominic’s hands quivered as he crinkled the five dollar bill in his pocket, staring at the small bottle of children’s Motrin on the counter. He turned to his brother, aged fourteen then, walking about the otherwise empty gas station and studying some of the more expensive candies.
“Do you got three bucks on you?” Dom asked desperately over his shoulder.
“Nah, nothin’. If I did, it’d be gone by now,” Damien said nonchalantly, and even though Dom was angry, he appreciated the honesty.
“Please, sir,” Dom looked up at the tall ogre before him with wide, pleading eyes. A look he usually was too proud to give. “My little sister is sick and this is all I can afford. I only have five dollars, but I’ll pump gas- I’ll pump air in tires for an hour to earn the extra three. She’s young- only two, and we can’t pay for a doctor-“
“No money, no sell,”
The commanding tone silenced the jumbled plea that spewed from Dominic’s mouth. Damien heard this and glared daggers from behind one of the shelves- even though him and Dom never got along, he was still one of his own, and he was not going to take shit like that. In an instant, he took the slingshot from the inside of his jacket and shot a rock square in the man’s forehead. The scream nearly deafened Dom as Damien started to run out of the shop, the tall giant collapsing on the floor, writhing in pain.
“Dom, take it!!” Damien shouted.
And without thinking twice, Dom grabbed it and ran down plenty of blocks with his brother until their legs couldn’t carry them anymore. While the both of them panted and leaned against a nearby wall of yet another shop that went out of business, Dominic shoved Damien with enough force to make him stumble.
“You’re such an idiot!” He hollered between heaving breaths. “We’re going to be in so much trouble. The cops are probably looking for us!”
Damien didn’t have enough energy left in his arms to shove back, so he slammed his shoulder into Dominic’s chest, making his younger brother collide with the wall. “Nag, nag, nag- that’s all you ever do, Dominic!”
“Well, if I wasn’t around to ‘nag’ you, you’d be dead by now!”
“I’m the older brother!”
“Then fucking act like it!”
The two brothers shouted at each other until they reached the apartment complex, their voices hoarse but their prides stubbornly holding strong. Damien finally had enough when they reached their door and shoved Dom inside.
“There! Go feed Motrin to your precious little baby! You treat her like a doll. Are you gay or somethin’? Do you play with dolls?”
“Dominic’s gaaaaaay~ He plays with dollllllls!~”
Damien stampeded in a sing-song voice through the narrow hallway to his and Dom’s room, his voice echoing against the aged and decrepit sheet rock.
“Damien, stop,” Dom suppressed a growl. “You’ll wake Nanay up,”
A groan from their mother’s form on the couch caused Dom to grow livid as Damien donned his jacket again, preparing to go out.
“Great, now she’s awake,” The younger brother scolded. “Nanay could have slept three more hours before her shift at the motel, and you had to pull that shit. You always ruin everything!”
“Whatever, bro,” Damien spat as he headed out the door again. “I do a favor for you and this is how you thank me? It’s cool, I’m out. LATER-“
And Dominic slammed the door so hard that the walls shook, not letting Damien speak the last ‘r’ sound.
Dominic hadn’t realized that he was walking while he was staring at the Motrin, and this caused the usually vigilant security guard to nearly collide with someone in the aisle. Before their bodies could connect, he jumped back in surprise, an innate battle reflex to sudden movements.
"I'm sorry," He said hurriedly. Underneath the surface of his emotionless facial expression, he was deeply embarrassed that he let his guard down... that he could have hurt someone. He was always so careful... so focused.
"'Don't usually do that..." He breathed. Dom tended to use as little words possible to form a coherent sentence- he was a man of few words, but they were concentrated in meaning. He raised the hand that held the children's Motrin box, attempting to make a dry-humored joke out of the awkward situation. "Maybe I should take this... it might improve my concentration. 'Don't know what's gotten into me."
The presence of the Motrin may have suggested to the person that he had children, which wasn't entirely untrue. His eyes, dark and ethereal, found the stranger's, and as he waited for their response, he wondered if he'd seen them before...
_____________________________________________________ Sarcastic - Straight - "Parent" - No nonsense - Guarded