No new Dethm8 today. Instead, enjoy a repeat to an old WIP. Dethm8 will be back next Friday.
“Okay, so you got me here,” his brother said. “Where are we going?”
“You’ll see,” Dell said. “You’ll see.” He knew there was no way he could get Wenton here without a degree of subterfuge. He filled the other half of the glass with diet Coke and passed it over.
“Here, have a little somethin’.”
Wenton took a sip from the glass and made a face like he’d just licked the underside of a turd.
“Gah—you put any Coke in this?” Dell flashed a smile to avoid answering the question. Wenton took another sip and he knew his brother would finish it. He’d always been respectful that way. It was weird.
“So where we going?” he asked again after a few minutes.
“Place I wanna show you.” Dell looked out the window of the limo, trying to stretch the time. “It’s sort of a surprise.”
Dell desperately wanted to get his brother’s life on track. He was the younger brother, but for as long as Dell could remember—way back to fourth grade, at least—he’d been self-sufficient. Dell never could say it out loud, but his brother was smarter than him. He’d just known how to do things that Dell didn’t until he’d seen his brother do them. Wenton had kept him out of trouble after they were orphaned and the neighborhood kids picked on them. He was in debt to his brother.
Now Dell felt like he could pay a little of that back.
“Surprise, huh?” Wenton mumbled. “You’re not taking me to an intervention, are you? Because I could stop shootin’ H whenever I want.”
Dell choked out a laugh. Wenton was always joking like that. At least he hoped he was joking this time.
“We got you calendared for an intervention next Thursday.” Shit. Dell hated working in the mayor’s office had gotten him using words like ‘calendared’. It had never been him, but now it was like this whole other personality he’d had to adapt for work was infiltrating who he really was.
He watched the street. They passed several people milling about, maybe prostitutes, maybe drug dealers, maybe homeless, certainly at least a few of them were dead. He really did feel something for them, but he wondered if he was the right person for the job the mayor wanted done. Dell sighed.
“You’re doing it again.” He looked at his brother and made a face. “I asked where you were taking me and you looked out the window. You’re stalling.” They hadn’t seen each other for a few months and it was so easy to forget there was another human being who knew him as well as he knew himself despite all the layers of bullshit he dressed himself in. He stole another glance out the window, not sure what street they were on until they passed a sign. Almost there.
“Really. Can’t tell you. But you’ll know everything soon enough. For real.”
And just like that he knew it was okay. There wasn’t another person in the world he could have been this circumspect with who would have trusted him like this. The truth of it was, had he told his brother what they were about to see he would probably slug him and jump out the limo the first opportunity he got, bad neighborhood or no. And Wenton would be absolutely right to do so.
They pulled up to a security gate. Wenton looked around and Dell suddenly felt a wave of guilt crash down on him. He wasn’t sure he was about to do the right thing, but it was honestly the best idea he could come up with.
The driver handed over some paperwork to the security guard. Dell heard him speak, but couldn’t make out the words, then a voice squawked over his radio. He handed the paperwork back to the driver and the window rolled up.
“Have a safe one,” the guard said and the gate lifted. They pulled inside, the tires of the limo giving a staccato rap as they passed over speed bumps. Dell looked over the half dozen or so cars in the parking lot, looking for Nibor’s BMW. There it was. Last car on the end. He relaxed just a tiny bit. They parked on the far end, the limo spreading across two parking spaces.
The driver cut the engine and got out. Wenton reached for his door.
“Hold on a sec.” Dell pushed his brother’s hand away. “Enjoy the full experience.” He eyed the glass still half full in Wenton’s hand. “Kill that.” He put the jack and coke up to his lips and turned it upside down and was just swallowing the last of it when the door opened.
Dell turned his knees to the door and looked back at his brother. “After you. Oh, and if anybody asks, you’re name is Guy LaTouche. That’s L-A-capital T-O-U-C-H-E.”
Wenton’s brother always knew how to pique a guy’s interest. Anyone else and he would have bailed long before now. But the limo had been impressive and the way Dell set it up had been hard to turn down.
He climbed past him on his hands and knees past Dell and out the limo. Wenton didn’t know why he that. Maybe that was how he’d gotten out of cars when they were kids and it just stuck. He thought to ponder it later, knowing he would probably forget about it in the next sixty seconds. Dell swatted him on the ass and he looked back at his brother who had a, ‘Hey, I had no choice but to do that,’ look on his face.
“Come with me,” Dell had said back at the apartment. “I want to take you somewhere.” He’d looked his brother up and down, not certain if he was joking or not before going back to the dishes. He knew Dell had gotten a fancy new job with the mayor’s office a few months back, but didn’t know what he did.
“What, now?” he asked putting a wine glass in the cabinet above the sink.
“Daddy, can I have that cup? My sippy cup?” He’d turned to Todd.
“No, Toddy, you’re too big for those. You’re a big boy now.”
“But you have one.” He pointed and Wenton looked.
“Right there.” Wenton picked up his coffee mug, drying upside down in the dish rack.
“No, son. This is a coffee mug. I drink my coffee out of here.”
Dell laughed. “I think he’s got you, man.”
“What do you mean?”
“How does Daddy drink out of there, Toddy? He sips, right?” Todd nodded. “See? Kid’s smart.”
Wenton opened his mouth to explain how it was different, but found himself unable to come up with anything. His son had been right and wrong. He reached up and grabbed the sippy cup down and handed it to Todd. So many things in his life could be summed up in so many words over the last year-and-a-half. Right and wrong. Two opposing ideals co-existing in a weird, quasi-harmony.
Wenton had dried his hands on his pants and looked at his brother. “So what exactly do you want?” He let his frustration at being underminded bleed into his tone.
“Uh, nothing much. I just want you to come with me. Take an hour of your time, max.”
“And where is it we’re going?”
“Ask me again when we get in the limo.”
“Uncle Dell, can I come too?”
“No, Toddy,” Wenton had answered for his brother. “You can’t come because it’s not an appropriate place for little boys, is it, Uncle Dell?”
“No,” Dell said, but his face brightened when he reached into his suit jacket and produced a rectangular box, stooped and held it out for Todd to take.
“What is it, Uncle Dell?”
“For the life of me, I don’t know!” Dell threw his hands up. “Why don’t you take it to your room and open it?” Todd took it and sauntered to his room.
“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” Wenton had said.
“Give him stuff every time he sees you. He’s gonna start expecting that.”
“Well, I’m the onliest uncle he has. I gotta make up for all the gifts he’s never gonna get from the family we don’t have.”
“Yeah, but I’m trying to do something here. I’m going for a value system here. You undermind that when you do that.”
“All right, all right.” Dell held his hands up. “Sorry. Next time I’ll just give him a kick in the nuts.”
“You know I can’t go with you,” Wenton had said. “It’s a Sunday night and I don’t even know any sitters.”
“Got that covered. I’ve got a sitter.”
“I get an executive protection officer. Two of them. Hanson can watch him while we’re away.”
“No way. I’m not letting some guy watch my kid.”
“He’s not just some guy.”
Dell stormed to the front of the house, opened the door and ushered a big, baldheaded white guy inside and led him over to the kitchen.
“Officer Hanson, this is my brother, Wenton.”
“See the wedding ring? Hanson’s married. How long you been married, Officer Hanson?”
“Got pictures of your kids?”
“Yes sir.” Hanson proceeded to dig out his wallet and flipped it open, producing a series of pictures.
“Wow. Officer Hanson,” Dell began a little too loudly. “You’ve got, what is that, four children?”
“Five. Your youngest there looks about the same age as my nephew. You play catch with him?”
“I coach his little league team.” Dell had nodded, pulling a face like he was more impressed than he was. But Wenton knew the truth; other than Todd, his brother despised children.
“I need you to do us a favor, Officer Hanson.”
“How may I assist?”
“I need you to babysit my nephew. Just for an hour.”
Hanson shifted for the first time since he’d come in.
“I’m-I’m sorry, sir?”
“I need you to babysit my nephew while I take my brother someplace important. Someplace little boys don’t go. The sooner we go, the sooner we get back, the sooner you can get home and practice that slider with your kid.”
“Well, they don’t pitch. It’s actually t-ball.”
“Okay, but if we get done quickly, then you get home quickly. Cool?”
Wenton grabbed his brother by the arm. “The hell you think you’re doing? I don’t know him. Look, I’m sorry Mr.—Officer Henson—”
“—Hanson, but I don’t know you. And I’m sure that if you were in my position you wouldn’t be eager to let some stranger spend time alone with any one of your children.”
“Well, if I may sir,” Hanson cut in before Wenton could continue. “I am already a police officer which requires background checks. But any officer who is assigned to a detail with a person associated with the mayor’s office is subject to an extensive history search on par with agents in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Wenton hadn’t known that. It was impressive.
“Good enough for the mayor,” Dell chimed in, “good enough for us.”
“It’s that important to you?” Wenton said to his brother who nodded. He had no doubt Dell loved Todd and the fact he would vouch for this police officer carried a great deal of weight. He turned back to Hanson. “Take off those sunglasses.” Hanson put them in his jacket pocket. He had clear eyes. Good. Hopefully, he wasn’t a drinker. “Take off that jacket too. He removed it and Wenton saw the gun in the holster.
“Sir, I’m a police officer. I have to carry my weapon when I’m on duty.”
“Then no dice.”
“Hold it-hold it-hold it.” Dell put his hands up again. “How about you take the gun off and put it up on top of the cabinet?” Wenton looked at the cop. He nodded.
They’d gone into the bedroom so Wenton could tuck his son in, but found him under the covers, snoring soundly and smelling like perfume.
“I was going to give it to a lady friend,” Dell said when he looked at him.
Now here he was, still unsure what was going on and feeling tipsier by the moment. The driver/officer was even bigger than Hanson had been, probably as wide as he and Dell if they’d stood shoulder-to-shoulder, blocking their view of the entrance as they walked behind him.
“Good evening, sirs,” a lispy man said, greeting them at the door with two guards of his own. A breeze had kicked up, making their clothes lick in the wind. He handed a clipboard to the officer who turned to Dell, who in turn, nodded. He hunched over it with a pen and gave it back. The man took the sheet off the clipboard and handed it to Wenton.
“It’s just a non-disclosure thing,” Dell hollered over the wind. “No big deal. Trust me, I know a pitbull of a lawyer. If we need to break that, he can make it happen.”
Wenton couldn’t tell if his brother was telling the truth, but signed. The man took it back, smiled at him with his other hand clapped over the top of his hat to keep from losing it.
“Let’s get inside, gentlemen.”