The cell phone’s insistent and shrill ring dragged my mind away from the crossword, and after a fairly mild curse, I picked it up.
Sidney, my brother. Odd he was calling me at this hour of the night.
“What,” I barked into the microphone.
“That’s no way to speak to your baby brother.” His smooth tones rarely reached a screaming point, which was often the reason why mine did.
And who called the younger brother ‘baby’ brother these days?
“What do you want?”
A hesitation. He was in trouble again, I could feel it.
“Can you come down to the bar? I seem to have left my wallet at home.” Sheepish, and just enough to stop me from yelling at him. It was not the first time, nor would it be the last.
“I told you the last time was the last time.”
“Just this once, please?”
I shook my head. That was probably my biggest fault, giving in to him. After our mother had died, and our father had to work, it was left to me to bring him up. He was going to be the death of me yet. “Where?”
“The usual place.”
I was surprised because the last I’d heard they’d banned him from going in there. It was only a twenty-minute walk from my apartment, but, late at night, and in winter, there was snow in the air. And the odd snowflake falling, a prelude to much worse.
About a hundred yards from the bar I had a shiver go down my spine. I’d not had that for a long time, not since school, and the trouble with Wiley, the school bully. Wiley had graduated to the local thug, done a few stints in jail, and last I heard he had been sent down for a few years for an assault.
I stopped and took a moment. Perhaps karma was trying to tell me something.
I shrugged. Just in my imagination. I reached the door, took a moment then went in. He was standing by the bat looking a little apprehensive. He was in more trouble than just not paying his bar bill.
Close up I could see the fear in his expression. “Bloody hell, Sid, what have you done now?”
“A problem that he insists his older brother would be happy to pay for.”
I knew that voice and felt instant dread.
In the flesh, and not looking very happy at all.
© Charles Heath 2020-2021