May 30th 2015
The clock ticked back and forth, the hour hand and the second hand bobbing in a sluggish motion as time slipped away. Only five more minutes and I would be off of work, and I would have nothing to do. Lily was busy on a college visit, and Michael said he had to go to Physical training for the marines.
I rested my head on the desk, watching the clock in the back of the stores, partially hidden by the shelves and stacks of vinyls and disks. Notes being plucked by an acoustic sounded through the speakers and I sat there, waiting. and waiting, and waiting.
“You can go ahead and go if you want.” Andrew said, “You can even put that you left at 5, it doesn’t matter all that much. It’s only a few minutes.”
“Alright,” I said, my voice one massive sigh of relief, “Thanks man, I’ll see you later.”
His red hair bobbled with a nod, nearly throwing his glasses off of his head as he turned back down to his phone and continued whatever unimportant news he was viewing at the moment.
The sun’s rays fell outside, hitting trees and casting hollow little shadows that covered my car and the sidewalk that was worn down with how many feet had trodden upon it. Standing against my car was Darrian, tapping his foot with a nervous tempo. He looked up at me and gave me a false grin, I didn’t have the ability to look through him like Lily, but I could tell there was something wrong.
“Hey,” he said, getting off my car and moving to meet me, “I wanted to talk to you.”
“Sure,” I said, “What’s up?”
“It’s,” he paused as he searched for his words, “It’s my parents. My dad is in Rehab, and my Mom is in jail right now.”
“Holy shit,” I grimaced, seeing the look on his face, “What the hell happened?”
“They caught Dad with a needle in his arm,” he sighed, “They found Mom with a gram of it on her, dad ended up going to rehab to shorten his sentence, apparently mom had put up a huge fight with the cops.”
“Were you there when it happened?” I asked, fearing the answer.
“Worse,” He said, looking up at me, “Layla was. She’s with a social worker right now, they’re going to put her in a foster home.”
“Oh fuck.” I said, looking down, then turning back to stare him in the eye, “What about you, you’re eighteen, they can’t put you in a foster home.”
“You’re right, they can’t,” He said softly, “But with the house under police investigation, I can’t stay there, and I have nowhere else to go at the moment.”
“Is that why you’re here?” I asked, knowing already the answer, “You were going to see if you can stay with me?”
“It would only be for a little while,” He said, trying to sound convincing, “I promise, I’ll pay rent, I’ll do whatever you all need me to-”
“Darrian,” I interrupted, “How long have we known each other?”
“Since we were babies,” he heaved quietly, as if the words were heavy, “Your mom and my mom used to be really good friends, and they would take us to the park all the time…”
“You really think,” I said, “After knowing you for so long, that I would just leave you out on the street? Because I wouldn’t do that to you man.”
“Thanks,” he said, pulling me into a quiet hug, “Austin.”
“Did you walk here?” I asked, not seeing his car anywhere.
“I had to,” He said timidly, “My car is considered a part of the investigation until tomorrow at least.”
“That fucking sucks man,” I said, scratching my head as I pulled out my keys, “We’ll go ahead and head home, see what we can do about sleeping arrangements.”
He nodded as I unlocked the door, he opened the passenger seat and stepped in, making himself as comfortable as he could given the circumstances. The car started and we had to sit there for a few minutes, waiting for cars to move out of the way, and when they did, I bolted as fast as I could out of the space, coming close to clipping a motorcyclist who had come too close to the center. The cyclist flipped me the bird and Darrian returned the favor with an irritated scowl.
We sat there in monumental silence, he was as still as stone while I fidgeted with my fingers and turned the wheel every few minutes. His doleful face was lost in thought, not that any good minded human could blame him. He’d cut his hair, and it was much nicer than what it had been before, the curls now well kept and cleaned up to where his hair was more wavy and flat than it had been. It stuck close to his scalp, and never strayed into his golden eyes as the pupils dilated and focused.
“How are you and Michael?” he finally piped up, leaving me a little shell shocked.
“Who told you-” I asked in a low voice.
“No one told me Austin,” he turned his head so we were facing each other, “It’s just Lilith isn’t the only one who knows you. I’ve known you more than long enough to know that when he held you at the docks, there was something there.”
I paused as we slowed down, making a right at the stop light and parked in front of my house, behind the two cars in front of us.
“We’re fine.” I said monotonously, “I just hope no one else finds out, not yet.”
“My lips are sealed.” he said as he turned his head away from me.
I nodded and unfastened myself to the seat and opened my door, Darrian followed suit and we were both greeted to the surprise of seeing my father on the front porch, swinging to and fro, with Sean sitting cross armed and facing the other way.
“Hey,” I said, looking at my brother, “What’s going on.”
“What Zach and I agreed to.” Sean snapped irritably, “We’re just waiting on him to get out here so we can go to the baseball game.”
I nodded and looked at my father, who smiled, the crinkles on his lips seeming out of place with this display of happiness. I hid my disgust and turned away without another word, trudging through the door to find my mother and Zach whispering in hushed voices.
“- Mom I’m not saying he wouldn’t I’m just saying,” he caught a glimpse of me in the doorway and quieted, “We can talk about this later, I’ll be fine though.”
Mom look irritated, and shook her head as she forced a smile when she saw me, and then a genuine one played across her face when she saw Darrian.
“Hey sweetie,” She said, suddenly cheery, “What brings you over here.”
Darrian stuttered for words and then finally stopped when I placed a hand on his shoulder, and gripped him tightly. I looked over to my mother, and my brother who had both suddenly caught on to the fact that something horrible had happened.
“His father is in rehab,” I said, “And his mother is in prison. They were found with heroin, and Layla was there. She’s being put into foster care now.”
“Oh my god.” My mother said, moving past my brother and holding Darrian’s head in her hands, “Oh Darrian, I’m so sorry. You and your sister never deserved any of this.”
Darrian looked her in the face and gave a pained smile while a tear trickled down his face. He was never one to show too much emotion, but he wasn’t ever one to completely hide it. His statuesque characteristics still cracked and bent every now and then, giving him the means to be human, he never broke though, and he never would.
“I just need a place to stay,” he said, his voice giving a slight crack, “Just for a while.”
“You can stay as long as you need sweetheart.” My mom pulled him into a hug which he longingly embraced.
“You can room with me.” Zach said, sounding awkward as he looked at the floor, unable to fully process the situation, yet also trying to remain to where he could be of assistance.
Darrian nodded and pulled him into a hug too, and my little brother, one who I always had turned to, wept in Darrian’s stead. Where Darrian couldn’t cry, Zach could, and he did, for both of them. All of the anger, the disappointment, the sorrow, he let it all go. He wasn’t sobbing, no, he needed all the air in his lungs and his composure for the night with our father.
He let go with a nod, brushing the tears out of his eyes and then headed for the door, waving goodbye to my mother and I as he went to go deal with Sean’s irritability and my father’s incompetence.
My mother left the room to go throw more blankets into Zach’s room and find clothes that would fit Darrian comfortably. So we were left there alone, listening as my father and my brothers all piled into his car and shuttled off to whatever destination it was that they were going to. Darrian pulled up a chair and sat his sleek figure on it crosslegged.
“Austin?” he asked, turning towards me.
“Yeah?” I responded.
“Promise me something, okay?” he said, a strange look coming across his face.\
“What is it?” I asked.
“Promise me you won’t change,” he said silently, “Don't let anyone or anything change who you are right now... Promise me you’ll stay you, please?”
I smiled held out my pinky to him, he extended his and wrapped it around mine. A warm vibration throbbed through my hand and into my heart, making my body feel warm and content.
“I promise, Darrian.”