Mick sat down at the table. It was a mess as usual. Papers, magazines and bills strewn about. It was a mess, yes, but he knew exactly where things were. Or at least he kidded himself that he did. Brenda left about an hour ago and said that she’d be back soon. He didn’t know where she was going. He hoped she’d get cigarettes. He should’ve given her money.
The phone rang. It was his brother Mark. He was in the neighborhood and wanted to stop by. Mick usually didn’t mind Mark dropping by unannounced, as long as his friend Danny didn’t tag along. He didn’t think of asking Mark for cigarettes and he didn’t think of asking if Danny was coming along with him. It wasn’t a good day of thinking for Mark.
Brenda parallel parked the Mini Cooper a few doors down from where she and Mick lived. She looked in the rear view mirror and saw Mark and Danny stumbling down the street. Here it was not even noon and they both looked wasted. Drunk probably. Literally hanging onto each other as the walked. Brenda ducked as they walked by. Luckily they didn’t see her or the car.
‘What the hell do they want?’ she thought. She considered her options. Should she get out and join them? Should she wait until after they went into her building? Should she just drive away and hope they’d be gone when she came back from nowhere? She sat and bit her nails.
Mick buzzed Mark in and heard Danny coughing as they climbed the stairs. He rolled his eyes and wondered why he didn’t let the call go to voice mail. ‘Too late for that shit’ he said to himself. The loud knock on the door and Mick opened to have Mark stumble into his arms in a brotherly hug. Danny, all red eyed and stinking of beer shuffled in after Mark.
“Hey Mick, how’s it hanging?” Danny slurred. “Hey Danny, how’s it going? Keeping my baby brother out of trouble?” Mick jokingly asked. “You know it man. It’s all good Nigga” Mick couldn’t stand white guys using that word. Too many barbs. He’d been called Nigga many a time by his buds, but never used the word himself.
Now here was Danny, his brother’s best friend, all hip hopped, droopy drawers, baseball cap turned to the side. Oh he was hard. Like margarine. Mick never understood why his brother hung out with Danny. He knew it used to be drugs. A chemical bond, but he had hoped that Mark had grown out of it.
Danny had a hard time with booze, and had started chipping at heroin. Mick had seen him once nodding out, with the shit powdered under his nose. Mick had done his fair share of drugs but drew the line at H. He didn’t want to prove that marijuana was a gateway drug to Heroin. So he stopped short, saving his own life while proving the naysayers wrong.
Danny sat on the couch and Mick called Mark into the kitchen.
“What the fuck is wrong with you? Why are you still hanging out with Danny? He’s a fucking mess!” Mick hissed at his brother.
Mark tsk’d and said, “You wouldn’t understand Mick. It’s not your scene” “My scene? What the fuck does that mean? Your idiot friend is nodding out on my couch. Is that the scene I’m not a part of?” “Oh man, if I knew you were gonna be like this I wouldn’t have come over.” “Yeah well,” Mick said as he looked out the window, “yeah well, there’s Brenda in the car. You better sober up homeboy before she comes back here.”
“Hey we’re gonna split anyway. Could you lend me 20 bucks?” “You still owe me from last time jerk off.” “Aw c’mon man, don’t be like that. Lend me 20, we split and Brenda wouldn’t know shit.”
It seemed like a bribe, but Mick gave him a 20 from his wallet. Mark walked over to the couch and got Danny animated somehow. The left, Mick hugging Mark, Mark saying he’ll call later, Danny giving out a drunken pound.
Brenda climbed the stairs as they were descending. “Hey my favorite sister in law, Brenda!” Mark said. “You remember my man Danny right?”
“Yeah, hey Danny,” she said as she climbed past them, “Take care Mark.”
She walked through the door and threw a couple packs of cigarettes at Mick who was sitting on the couch. “Just saw your brother and his buddy. Bad news those two…”
Mark got up and walked over to Brenda. He gave her a nice warm hug. He buried his face in her hair. “Yeah, tell me about it…”