William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Eleven

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Two fifths of Glenfiddich, a liter of Stoli, and two frozen pizzas; Adam made a quick stop for supplies on the way home.  Friday night, work had been hard, and he was interested in doing little more than sitting in the big chair, drinking steadily and watching cable, maybe a little porn come midnight.

He rounded the hallway corner, ready to sink into the apartment when he spotted the little girl in the hallway.  Except for the little girl in the hallway, Adam was pleased with his new living arrangements.  J Stree Luxury Living was a nice enough community.  Gate, fence, old guy patrolling at night.  Pool, hot tub, sauna, cable TV, and a mini-market on the premises that sold liquor – what was not to like?

The neighbors were not to like; a single mother he hadn’t yet met, with a young daughter who wandered the premises.  A little black girl, about eight years old, nice kid, but nobody needed her sitting outside in the hallway.

Adam set his package down in front of the door and fished for his his key.  “How’s it going, little Suzie?”

“That’s not my name and you know it.”

“What are you doing outside, Erzulie?  You smell like liquor – bargain vodka, store brand.  Nobody should drink crap like that, especially a little girl.”

She held up the sleeve of her nightgown and sniffed.  “I don’t smell anything.”

“I do.  Where’s your mom?”

“Inside with Sean.  They’re having a fight.”

“Is that her boyfriend?

The girl nodded.

“They’re having drinks too, right?”

She nodded again.

Adam knocked on the door.

“Fuck off.”  It was a male voice, loud and slurred.

Adam estimated a blood alcohol level of at least .2.  “Security.  Open the door.”

“We’re not making any noise,” the man answered, coming to the door.  “Who the hell are you?”

“I moved in next door door,” Adam told him.  “This friend of mine lives here and I found her out in the hall.  It’s ten o’clock, an inappropriate time for a child to be in the hall.”

Erzulie ran into the apartment to the couch where her mother sat, her face in her hands.

“Why don’t you mind your fucking business, fat boy.”

“Just looking out for the girl,” Adam said.

“She’s inside now.  Are we done here?”

Adam called into the room.  “Are you OK, ma’am?”  When she looked up, Adam recognized her from the mailroom at Sentec.  “I know you,” he said.

“She’s fine,” the man said.  He slammed the door into Adam’s outstretched foot, but it bounced back and caught him on the jaw.  “Son of a bitch!”

Adam stepped into the room, and went over to the couch.  He lifted the woman’s face and saw the bruising on her cheek.  “Not good.”

The man was behind him a moment later, moving erratically.  Adam stiff-armed him and he landed cold on the carpet.

“What’s your mother’s name, Erzulie?”

“Celeste.”

Adam kneeled slowly, bringing his bulk down to one knee.  “We need to get you cleaned up, Celeste.  And we need to get this shit off your carpet.”

“He has a little gun,” she answered in a thick accent.  “In his belt on the back.”

“That’s good to know.  Come sit over by the sink.”  He led her to a stool by the counter, then checked the man, removing a small caliber pistol from his back pocket.  “What all do you want to do here?  I can call the police or I can throw him in the dumpster.”

“It was just a thing” she said.  “He can sleep it off.”

“Not the best idea.  Has he done this before?”

Adam caught Erzulie nodding behind her.

“All right, sweetheart.”  Adam handed her his key.  “You know where my apartment is, right?  Next door.”

She nodded.

“Take your mom, put on the TV and have some ice cream.  I think there are a few cartons in the freezer, bit don’t touch the strawberry.  I’m going to have a talk with your friend.”

“You should not,” the woman said, her voice thick with alcohol and accented English.  “He gets upset.”

“So do I.”

Adam locked the door behind them and made his way to the refrigerator.  He found a casserole that smelled good so he stuck it in the microwave.  He retrieved his grocery bag and pulled out a bottle of Scotch.  The man rustled awake just as the microwave beeped.

“Want something to eat?” Adam asked.

“What the hell happened?”

“You tripped.”  Adam dug into the casserole with a wooden spoon.  “Spicy.”

The man stood up.  “I’m going to fuck you up.”  He reached for his gun.

“I have your gun,” Adam said, setting down the spoon.  “Here’s the deal; I think you’re an asshole, and I’m an excellent judge of character.  So I don’t want to see you anymore.  Forget about this woman.”

“Who the hell do you think you are?”

“I’m a Snack Happy chemist,” Adam said.

“What the fuck is that?”

“It’s not germane to our conversation.  But if I see you again, I’m going to shoot you in the ass.”

“I could beat the crap out of you.”

Adam chuckled.  “Maybe in a boxing ring, but not here and now with nine drinks in you.  Now get out.”

“Asshole.”  He wobbled toward the door.  “Can I have my gun back?”

“I don’t think that would be wise.”

“It was a gift.”

“Write your address down and I’ll send it to you.”

“Really?”

Adam tossed him a pen from the counter.

“I think I’m too drunk to drive.  Can I just hang out here for awhile?”

“I suppose,” Adam said.  “I’m going to watch TV.  Do they have cable?”

“No.”

“I was afraid of that.  Then just sit down here, all right.  Get me a glass with some ice, and then sit over on the couch and we’ll see what’s on.”  Adam called his apartment and Erzulie answered.  “Everything OK?”

“Yes,” she said.  “Mama’s laying down.”

“You lock the door and stay there tonight.  I’m going to stay in your place.  Hey, you don’t have cable TV?”

“No.”

“All right, goodnight sweetheart.”  He turned to the man.  “Sean, right.”

“Yeah, I’m Sean.”

Adam flipped through the channels.  “OK, Sean, let’s see what’s on TV.”

He flipped through the channels, most of which featured Arnold Schwarzenegger in one story or another, pushing his agenda, going after the considerable wealth of Indian casinos, or the paltry wealth of college students intent on finishing their education.  “This guy is a menace,” Adam noted.

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Written by williamdoonan

December 1, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Posted in Fiction, MedicineLand

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