Max

  • Narrator: Max
  • Characters: Max and Will
  • Timeline
  • Medium Spoiler Risk

I’d woken up once in the middle of the night, hearing Edie crying and seeing some lights in the loft come on when Jon got up to tend to her. I tried calling Callen again then, but his phone went straight to voicemail. I’d left him another message–the third one since I’d last seen him–just asking him to call me.

Now, at six-thirty, my brother’s apartment is completely silent and dark. As quietly as I can, I get up, just as my phone starts to vibrate.

Finally.

“Callen?”

“No, it’s me,” my brother Will says. I should have looked at my display first to temper my enthusiasm.

“What?” I ask, not really wanting to talk to him after what he saw last night.

“You still at Jon’s?”

“I was just about to leave.”

“Good. You need to come home right now.”

“I don’t want to talk about it, Will.”

“You don’t have to, buddy. That’s not what this is about, okay?”

“I need to find someone first. I was going somewhere else before I went home.”

“No, you need to come straight home, Max.”

“Why?”

“I can’t say. You just do.”

I sigh heavily, finally agreeing to it. “Fine.”

“But I need you to do something for me first,” he adds.

“What?” I ask, annoyed.

“Is Jon awake?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Okay. I need you to see if he has any cash in his wallet. If he does, take whatever you can.”

“No! I’m not going to steal his money for you!” I whisper loudly in protest.

“You have to, Max. Don’t ask me any questions, but you have to do this for me. Please… it’s really important.”

“Can’t I just ask him for it, Will?”

“No, you can’t. He can’t know.”

“He’s going to think I did it!”

“He’ll think Livvy took it, you idiot. Husbands and wives do that shit all the time. Don’t worry about it.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah. But you have to hurry, Max. I don’t have a lot of time.”

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Just come home.”

“I’m coming, okay?” I hang up on him just before I quietly open the door to the guest room. My sneakers in hand, I look in the bathroom for the clothes I’d left there from the night before, but they’re gone. I can’t check the laundry room, because it’s right next to Jon’s bed, and I know it’ll wake him up. Resigned, I accept the fact that I’ll have to leave in his shorts and t-shirt.

I find Jon’s wallet on his dresser. I keep my eyes glued to my brother as I take all the cash he has, not even bothering to look at what bills they are. I stick the money in my own wallet and tiptoe to the door. I guess the fortunate thing for me this morning is that the Holland family owns the entire floor, has secure access to it, and Jon didn’t set the alarm last night. I unlock three deadbolts and remove the chain, open the door, and I’m out of the loft without waking anyone up.

I run to the subway station and catch the first train to Queens, finding an empty corner where I can sit by myself and subtly check the contents of my wallet. I’ve just stolen $400 from my oldest brother. There’s no way he’s not going to miss that. I wonder if he’ll call the cops to say he’s been robbed. I left his loft unlocked. Maybe they’ll suspect a doorman snuck in. They have access to the top floor.

I text Will as soon as I’m off the subway and let him know I’m almost home, so he’s waiting out front when I get there.

“Did you bring some cash?”

I nod.

“How much?”

“Four-hundred.”

“That’s good. Let me have it.”

I give him the four bills I’d taken from Jon.

“What’s left over?” he asks, seeing two twenties still in my wallet.

“That’s my money.”

“I need that, too.”

“That’s mine, Will!”

“Buddy, I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important. I’ll pay you back. I’ll pay Jon back. But I need it now.” He holds his hand out, waiting for me to hand it over. I eventually do. “Thank you. Now go inside.”

“Why?”

“Because I said so, Max.” He starts to walk to the external door to his room, the room he’d found me in last night.

“No!” I respond. “Was that girl you brought over a hooker? Did we just pay for your whore, Will?” I run after him and jump on his back, trying to pull him down. “Give me my money! And Jon’s!”

“Get off me!” he says, using all his strength to knock me off of him onto the sidewalk. He helps me to my feet. “Shut up, okay? Stop making a scene and listen to me.” He’s only about two inches away from me, and I feel like spitting in his face, but he’s bigger than me, and I know he’s not afraid to hit me.

©2015 Lori L. Otto • Distribution or duplication is strictly prohibited without written permission from the author.

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