Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Challenge 18: A brother's jealousy

Sorry this one is way over the word limit, but it didn't make much sense otherwise.

“Where the hell have you been, Dylan?” James said. “Do you know what time it is?”

Dylan looked at his bare wrist and said, “Nope.”

Charlie was curled up, asleep on the couch and the television was still blaring in the corner.

James folded his arms, leaning back against the archway between the dining room and the lounge, just staring at his younger brother. Dylan was a mess. His school uniform was torn and grimy and half of the buttons were missing. James could smell the smoke as Dylan stormed past him towards the stairs.

“Hold it,” he growled.

“Fuck off, James. It’s none of your business.” Dylan stopped but he didn’t turn around.

"J’taime amour," a silky smooth voice purred from the television set. Distracted for a moment, James glanced at the screen to see a young French woman whispering in the ear of a much older business man inside a smoky club.

“Dad left me in charge, so yeah, it is my business,” James said, trying to ignore the way the woman on the television set reminded him of Danielle.

Dylan did turn around then, his eyes stormy as he said, “Believe me, you don’t want to know.”

He glanced at the television just as the older man walked out of the bar, leaving the young woman by herself.

“Look,” James said. “I know I’m not dad, and you don’t have to tell me anything, but you are scaring me Dylan… I don’t want you to be the latest dead kid on the news.”

Dylan snorted. “I can look after myself.”

James tried to consciously relax the tension in his shoulders. The French woman disappeared into the bathroom, her mascara staining her cheeks. If Danielle cried, she would look a hundred times worse. Goth chicks always wore way too much black eyeliner.

Dylan noticed. He was always the more observant one.

“You were a bastard today,” he said softly. All traces of his normal anger were gone as he sat down on the couch, shifting Charlie so that the kid’s head was on his lap. “It’s funny, I thought maybe you had changed.”

James sat on the other couch, staring at the television. Toothpaste and coca-cola competed with Viagra and the Ab-buster 2000, but all he saw was the look on Danielle’s face as he told her she had overestimated the strength of his affection for her. He had been trying to be chivalrous. That was what he told himself. No point letting the poor girl fantasize that there was any chance… Perhaps he didn’t have to do it in front of so many people… but it was just the truth.

“You really were just messing with her, eh.” Dylan shook his head. The French woman dialled someone on her cell phone but no one picked up. She slammed the phone shut and splashed her face with water.

James clenched and unclenched his fists. This was none of Dylan’s business. “What does it matter? If I screw up my relationships, you can laugh. It’s not like you are doing any better.”

“It’s not just you you’re hurting though, is it?”

“What do you care? You hate her.”

“I never said that.”

James blinked, trying to remember why he was so sure that his brother had hated the Goth girl in his class.

“I said she hates me,” Dylan clarified. “Until today, I hadn’t bothered having an opinion.”

The French woman put on some more lipstick, puffed up her hair and pasted on a vindictive smile. She opened her shirt a few buttons and hiked up her mini skirt until the bottoms of her stocking suspenders were visible. Out in the bar, she sidled up to one man after another on the dance floor, searching for someone who would take the bait.

James made a face, unimpressed with her sluttish behaviour. Dylan leaned over Charlie and grabbed the remote, turning off the television. James glanced at him, surprised. Dylan extricated himself carefully and then lifted Charlie into his arms, heading for the stairs. James followed like a lost puppy. When had Dylan, the troubled teen delinquent, turned into the mature one in this family?

Once Charlie was tucked up in bed, Dylan said, “There is a reason why Goths are a minority group.”

“Huh?” James followed him down the hall. “Did you see Dee tonight? Is that why you were out so late?”

Dylan walked into his room and shut the door in James’ face. James just stood there, stunned, trying to process his brother’s words. Minority group. Goths. Suicide. SHIT. He turned the handle, but Dylan had locked the door.

“Is she okay?” he hissed, not wanting to wake Charlie up with a yell.

Dylan didn’t answer. James turned away and began to pace the hall. Surely someone would have told him if Danielle had gone and done something stupid. Angelica would have… No, Angelica only thought about herself and Kitten didn’t speak at all, so she was hardly going to use a telephone. There was nothing for it. He would have to call her.

James pulled out his cell phone and then realized he had deleted Danielle’s number. Idiot. He tried the phone book, but they weren’t listed. Of course not. Their mother was the Head of Security at the Bank of America, she wasn’t going to have a listed number. It was three a.m., but James knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep without knowing that Dee was okay. He raced down the stairs, two at a time, and hauled his Tiger motorcycle out of the garage and then glanced up to see Dylan watching him from the second story with a smirk. Damn him. He knew just how to push James’ buttons. Danielle was probably fine. For all James knew, she and Dylan had cooked up this story to make him feel guilty. Despite that, he knew he had to check on her.

Wordcount: 987

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