I'm 28 now. Work is my primary focus. It keeps my mind steady and away from unhealthy thoughts. I've actually got a rather big event to plan for. The company plans to announce that they will begin research on a new medical procedure. However, the topic is extremely controversial so they need everything to be perfect. I was actually on my way home after stopping to get a cup of coffee. I planned to be up late, if not all night and work through most of the weekend at home since there was still so much to do.
I flinched when I heard a kid yell as I walked across the street from an abandoned lot. I couldn't see over the derelict brick wall, but I heard them there somewhat often, presumably playing. Then I heard the crack of a bat, I didn't feel any need to direct my attention to it, but apparently I should have. I baseball came flying over the wall and smashed into my hand, knocking my coffee to the ground.
"Fuck!" I nearly screamed in pain. I grabbed hold of it with my other hand and felt around then squeezed a few times to make sure nothing was broken. Then I marched over to the archway where there was a kid no more than 10 peaking out shyly. "You there." He jumped and let out a small squeak. "Who hit that?"
"Uh, um, o-over there. Jay h-hit it sir." He pointed to a teenager in the far corner of the lot. I was immediately pissed. The kid looked like a punk and a terrible influence on the rest of the kids who were all around the 8 to 12 range. I wanted him away from them, and he was old enough to know better and face consequences. The shy boy in front of me called out to him. "Hey Jay! I think you hit someone."
The teen looked right at me, since I had his attention I called out to him, "Are you going to take responsibility and buy me a new coffee?" My voice was raised a bit to make sure he could hear me and my tone was a bit aggressive. He threw his cricket bat over his shoulder and squinted at me. The sun was behind me so I suppose he had a pretty hard time making out what I look like.
Then he responded much louder, "What did you just say to me old man?" I was annoyed that I'd have to repeat myself.
"I said, come take responsibility and buy me another coff-." He dropped the bat and was running up to me with huge smile on his face. I had just realized what he said and I needed to get away. "No. Nevermind. Just go home." I turned to leave as fast as possible, but he grabbed my wrist.
"You." He took my other wrist as well and looked me up and down. I wouldn't have thought his stupid smile could get any bigger, but it did. "You are absolutely perfect. I'll totally get you a new coffee. I know a great place, come with me." He turned to the kids, but kept hold of one of my arms, too damn tight too, I just couldn't get away. "I've got some adult stuff to take care of, don't stay out too late, and just leave my stuff, I'll come get it later. Okay? I'm leaving Darren in charge, so everyone listen to him."
They all nodded and the one I assume to be Darren took charge, "Alright, you guys can take turns hitting so I can practice my pitching." He continued to give instructions as they all went back into the lot to play.
"Let's go, we have to hurry we don't have much time until they close." He started pulling me along with him at a brisk pace and my mind was blank with panic so I was dumbly following along. Then there was a loud crash like glass shattering.
We both froze, then came a loud call, definitely from Darren. "SCATTER!" And many children's footsteps could be heard taking off behind us.
"Heh." The teen punk laughed meekly. "I'm sure they're fine. We have to keep moving." He started tugging again and I was unable to resist but slightly more aware.
"I've actually got somewhere to be and I'm really busy so you don't need to worr-"
"It'll only take a minute I swear." He cut me off, which kind of pissed me off. Along with the fact that I noticed that he's taller than me. "I owe you, right, so just let me make it up to you okay?"
I tried again to say anything to get me out of this situation, asap, "But I do re-"
"We're here. Come on." He cut me off again and pushed me inside. It was dimly lit and didn't look anything like a cafe or coffee shop. Then he even pulled me over to a bar. "Sit here, I'll be right back."
I sat on a bar stool and a woman walked out of a door from the back. She looked to be about my age and had fairly short, ashy, brown hair. "Jay? What are you doing here right now?"
"Nothing really. Did Anna leave yet? I really, really need her."
"She just finished cleaning so I think she did. Why? What do you need?"
"No, no I'm here." Another woman came out maybe a little younger, but her hair was long and slightly curly. She had bangs and the color was a dark brown with a gradient to red at the ends. "But I was just about to leave so whatever you need better be good." Her words would've seemed hostile if not for teasing smirk she wore.
"Please please please, show me how you make the coffee. It's super important." The kid nearly begged her.
"But I just finished cleaning." The girl, who, based on context should be Anna, whined back to him.
"Why the sudden interest in coffee? I thought you hated the stuff." The other woman asked him.
"It's no big deal but please Anna I can clean it again. I just need you to show me, then you can leave."
"I don't know... I really got somewhere to be.
"The club will still be open, even if you show up 5 minutes late. I'm begging you. I- uh, I'll do all the morning prep every day for a week."
"Make it a month and you got a deal."
"Wait, what about school?" They ignored the short haired woman's question and went to the back. Then she turned her attention to me as if she just noticed me. "Oh, I'm sorry sir, but we aren't open yet."
"Oh, good, can I leave, that kid just kind of dragged me here. I've really got a lot to do, so..." I stood up to leave, but she started to apologize.
"Oh, no. I'm so sorry. Let me go get him and make him apologize properly and I'll get you a meal voucher for your trouble." She sounded so nice I couldn't really refuse her, then as she stepped through the door to the back I heard her tone change. "What the fuck Jay? Get out th-" The door closed and I couldn't hear her anymore, but I almost felt bad for that kid. Jay, he had been called that twice now, and the woman came back out, I assume the other one left through a back door. He held out the coffee and she held out a small card.
"Here, I'm really sorry about earlier, I made it myself and it's totally one me since I ruined the other one."
"What did you do?! Geez, I'm so sorry sir, about everything he's done, take this and feel free to use it anytime. It'll work for a pasty from the cafe during the day, or for a meal here at the bar in the evenings. And again I sincerely apologize for all the trouble Jay's caused you."
"It's not a big deal, but I really need to get home. So, please excuse me." I felt like I was shaking. This situation was incredibly nerve wracking to me. "Thank you. Goodbye." I ducked out the door and hurried home. I was a little surprised by the kids lack of resistance. Maybe I had heard him wrong earlier. As I walked up the stairs to reach my apartment on the second floor my phone rang. It was Hope.
"Hey, Rory I know you said you were busy and all, but Markus was really... Hey! Hey, Markus, give that back." Her voice got more distant as she spoke and then I clearly heard Markus speak.
"Rory! Stop avoiding us. I want to talk to you." Then there was a loud slam and some muffled banging. The sound quality of his voice changed too. "All you do is work. When are you gonna come see us?"
"You can't just take Hope's phone and hide in the bathroom Markus." I knew exactly what he was doing without seeing anything so I scolded him to avoid his question.
"..." The other end of the line was quiet for a bit, but then I eventually heard a sniffle.
"Markus? Are you crying? What's wrong? What happened?"
"What?" He was so quiet I couldn't make out what he'd said.
"IT'S NOT FAIR!" He yelled into the phone and I pulled it away from my ear with a wince, but returned it quickly so I could hear if he said anything else. "You aren't allowed to still know so much about me that you know exactly what I'm doing when you barely even talk to me. If you care that much than come and see me!"
"We've talked about it this. I'm just really busy with work so-"
"Kathy and Steph are busy too you know. But they still come and visit."
"It's different Markus."
"How? Ever since you got that knew job, you've never come home. You're postponing and straight ignoring calls more and more. You care about that job more than us don't you?"
"You know that that isn't true."
"Do I?" I could hear the pain in his voice and it made his words hurt just that much more. "Just once, I feel like I can barely remember what you look like, but at least I remember you. Luke can barely remember anything and I feel like Isabelle doesn't even know who you are. I used to get so jealous when you were taking care of them, and now I just pity them. It's feels awful."
"I'm sorry Markus, I just can't."
"What the hell Rory!? I'm sick of this. If you don't care about us anymore, fine, just stop pretending. If you aren't coming fine, but I'm done. I don't ever want to talk to you again."
"Wait! Markus, calm down it isn't like that. I love you all. You know that."
"Beep, beep, beep." He'd hung up.
"DAMN IT!" I screamed and near tossed my phone in rage as I slumped over the railing. I turned around and went into my apartment. I opened my laptop to start working but felt like I could really use a drink so I got up to get a beer out of the fridge.
Before I knew it I'd gone through about 5 beers and done almost no work, then my door bell rang. I got up to answer it and immediately regretted it.
"Hello again. I thought you looked pretty bad earlier and then that phone call sounded rough so I thought you could use a drink, but it looks like you already started." That damn kid.
"How the hell did you find where I live and what phone call?"
"The one you had outside earlier. I kind of followed you home because you looked pretty shaky, then I was just gonna leave, but yeesh, that phone call. So I went home to, uh, 'borrow' some of my sister's drinks."
"What is wrong with you, get the fuck out of here." I tried to slam the door on him but he easy pushed his way in.
"Why? We can get to know each other, and you seem like you could use a buddy. Oh, but, we should probably introduce ourselves. I'm Jackson, but you can just call me Jay." He stuck out his hand. I turned around and brushed him off with a wave of my hand.
"My name is Rory. I'm calling the police." I tried to grab my phone off the table and missed twice before Jay came over and scooped it up.
"Whoa, no need for that. We're soulmates."
"Not interested, now give me that." I reached for my phone and he held it high above his head. I tried for a second to get it back but moving around too much was making me dizzy. "Fine do whatever you want. Just leave me alone I have a lot of work to get done." Then I sat down.