NewYorkSteve (newyorksteve) wrote,

Fiction: Staying Busy, part VI.II - Requital

Down the street and around the corner, Kirk sweated as he ran, unwilling to unleash the cumbersome clothing until he was safe and sound in his bedroom. A couple more twists and turns and he'd be home free, but before Kirk was able to reach his block, he ran right into Johnny Carter. One of the many bully-figures he knew from school - this one three years his elder with a wicked mean streak - Johnny knocked him on his ass, resulting in a scattered candy spill along the sidewalk.

"Watch it, jerk-off," Johnny said, brushing his tank-top downward to straighten out wrinkles that weren't there. "Sorry Johnny," Kirk said from the ground. "I didn't mean to -"

"What's all this?" Johnny said. Kirk looked around for his loot, scrambling to scoop it into a managable pile. "It's, uhh." "You stole all this, didn't you you little shitbird!" "I, uhh." Kirk got up to his feet, standing between his aggressor and his booty.

Johnny Carter shoved Kirk to the side, causing him to fall over and scrape his elbow on the curb. "Where'd you get all this?" "I ... I got it from ..." "Nevermind. Give it to me," Johnny said. Before Kirk could move, Johnny kicked him in the side. Kirk curled into a ball as he barked, "Pick it up asswipe!" Kirk crawled over to his managable pile and collected it in his hands. From his knees, Kirk held the candy up over his head as a sacrifice. Johnny took it from him, then replenished it with a hard kick to the chest, knocking Kirk on his back. He coughed and choked until the air returned to his lungs and by the time he gathered his wits, Johnny was halfway down the block in the opposite direction, munching on a chocolate bar that melted into his pudgy fingers.

Kirk took off his jacket and balled it up under his armpit. He walked dejectedly over to Aaron's house, who was home alone as usual. "What the fuck happened to you?" "Johnny Carter stole my candy," he said, throwing his jacket angrily into the corner of Aaron's bedroom. "What candy? Did you go on a run without me? What the hell'd you do that for? I thought we were a team!" "I ... I just wanted to try it a different way for once, you know? See if I could do it on my own." "Well shit man, who'd you hit?" "Chan's." "Chan's? Why'd you go and take from him? Didn't I tell you to stay outside the neighborhood when you do something like that? He knows us! You want him to rat you out to your parents?"

Kirk flopped down on the ground, leaning against Aaron's bed with his knees up to his chest. "I think he knows." "Well no shit! You probably did it wrong!" "Yeah, he probably knows. I think I'm gonna go over there tomorrow and give it back." "Give what back? You just said you had your ass handed to you by Johnny Carter!" "I mean, I'm gonna go give him the money." "Give him the money? Are you nuts? You don't know if he knows!" "I think he does," Kirk said soberly. "Just because you think doesn't mean you know. Now, where'd Johnny go? Let's go find him and get your shit back." "I don't know," Kirk buried his head in his knees. "He probably went home."

"Well," Aaron said. "Whatever you do, don't go back to Chan's anymore. Fuck that guy."

The following morning, following the advice of his do-gooding conscience, Kirk emptied the coffee can he kept all of his allowance in and shoved the bills into his pocket. With his heart pumping at three times the going rate, Kirk opened the door to Chan's Chicken & Tacos. The bell on the door rang a couple times, rousing Chan from his Asian newspaper. This immediately brought a smile to Chan's face as he said, "Ahh, Mr. Kilpatrick, you have returned! What can I do for you, my boy?"

Kirk lifted his gaze from the freshly swept tile floor and pulled a wad of ones out, setting the crinkled bills on the counter. "What's this?" Chan said, confused.

"This is what I owe you from yesterday," Kirk said, unable to lift his eyes any higher than the top of Chan's apron. "What do you mean? You already paid for your candy. Thirty-five cents; I never forget a transaction." "No ... no sir. I ... took some candy when you weren't looking." Chan's face fell to a scowl, his eyes enraged slits. "You stole from me?" "Y-yes sir," Kirk said, lowering his gaze to the floor once again.

"Look at me, boy! Look at me when I'm talking to you!" Kirk slowly panned upward, cowering under Chan's crossed arms as he leaned over the counter. "Give me your hand." Kirk, sure he was about to lose a limb for his felony, gave Chan his right hand anyway. Chan snatched it and led Kirk around to the opening at the end of the counter before pulling him back to where Chan originally stood. He grabbed the telephone receiver with his free hand and stuck it in Kirk's. "Call home."

"What? I ... I'm sorry! I won't do it again! I won't even come in here again, I swear!" Chan nudged Kirk toward the phone until it collided with his chest. "Call home!" Kirk reluctantly dialed, then held the receiver up to his ear until the other end answered. Then he handed it up to Chan, who said, "No. Tell what you have done." Kirk's head dipped like a cowering dog. Then he slowly lowered it and said, "Hi mom? Yeah, it's me. No, I'm okay, I'm just ... I'm over at Chan's Chicken & Tacos. He ... he wanted me to tell you something. I kinda ... took something without paying."

Kirk found it impossible to focus on anything the teacher tried to tell the class that day. Finally, after ignoring him all day in class, he sat across from Aaron in the lunchroom with his sack lunch unopen. "What's your deal, man?" In a low voice, with his chin on the table, Kirk said, "I went back to Chan's this morning." "What? What did I tell you?" "He never knew I stole that candy," Kirk said. "Well duh! How much trouble are you in?" "I don't know. Mom said I have to come straight home today."

"Man, I can't believe you confessed! That'll teach ya. That'll teach ya to be honest and tell the truth."
Tags: staying busy

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