Chapter 10: Rugrats and First-Aid Kits
The mansion is not as grandiloquent as the Maroni's but it has charm. The house has three floors, a decked out patio, a backyard, a swimming pool, and a lot of abundant doors and windows.
Precipitation soaked the overgrown grass; luscious flowers - ranging from every color - masked the scent of blood and terror hiding behind a towering house.
Caleb hated this neighborhood with all of his heart. It reminded him of the yuppies and spoiled rich kids who made his childhood a living hell.
He wears a white-collar shirt, a black tie, brown slacks, white socks, and dark red Converse sneakers. Caleb makes sure his hair is cut and neatly combed. He didn't want to get blood all over his street clothes.
Unfastening the two blue doors were Ricky Schwartz, surrounded by his well-dressed goons.
If there is one thing to describe this trust fund idiot, it would be a frat boy trapped in a forty-eight-year-old man with a long history of opioids, sex, and homophobic tendencies.
The reason Caleb is hired to take him out is that Ricky had assaulted his client's sister. But with a flash of money and a team of convincing lawyers, the judge had decided not to indict this rotten son of a bitch.
Ricky adorns an electric blue bathrobe with a sewn lion on his left breast pocket. Caleb can smell the putrid stench of a black dye wafting in his hair.
But what annoyed the hell out of Caleb is Ricky's smug smile. He couldn't wait to bash his large head through his granite wall; however, his CIA-looking guys won't let Caleb get inside the house.
Instead, one of them asked Caleb what he wants from Ricky.
"It's simple." the boy smiles. "I have a short message from my boss, who insisted that I should speak to you about something."
"Message?" the guards takes a closer look at the boy. "What kind of message?"
Caleb responds by punching him in the throat, fracturing his vocal cords. Panic and horror contaminate Ricky's face as he sprints across the glossy floor, yelling at his goons to shoot Caleb.
The four goons obeyed; their cocked guns utter a riveting sound that stirs Caleb's heart.
Lightning and firepower. Shoes squeaked under the polished surface of the floor, but Caleb is willing to change that.
After Caleb weakened the guard's vocal cords, he used the towering adult's back as a human shield. Bullets impaled through the bodyguard's thick back like knives.
Blood soaks his white-collared shirt.
Heavy breath fanned Caleb's face as the helpless guard is unable to move. So like a piece of trash, Caleb carelessly pushes the corpse on the floor, then sprints towards the others.
Once again, the male trio discharged their guns, but they were no match for Caleb's incredible speed. His lethal fighting style is breakdancing with a mix of capoeira. Caleb dodged, flipped, and kicked the teeth out of a goon's mouth.
After seeing their friend get clocked by Caleb, the guards ditched their firearms and begins to fight him.
One of them threw an effortless punch in Caleb's face. The boy staggered, clutching the blood pouring from his nose. Although he tries to fight back, the second guard drove his kneecap into Caleb's gut.
Powerful momentum sends Caleb on the blood-streaked floor, sliding next to a dead bodyguard. Agony rushed inside his thin veins. Thick nose blood forces its way into Caleb's mouth. It tastes as if he had swallowed a piece of broken shrapnel.
"Hey, Rick!" one of the guards yelled. "I think the kid is dead!"
A nasal voice shouts, "Are you sure?"
As the goon's backs were turned, Caleb manages to slip his hand into the dead man's pocket, pick up a loaded revolver.
It is a lot heavier than his handguns, but with a bit of luck and good timing, Caleb cocks the silver revolver then executes the three men.
Blood brushed the bright yellow walls and black obsidian floors. The large revolver in his hands is as heavy as a paperweight.
Collecting his bearings, Caleb shoves the gun inside his pants before leaving the crime scene, undetected.
When he manages to enter his old foster parents' house, Caleb takes a hot shower, changes into his street clothes, and wash his bloody ones with oxygen-producing detergents.
Disposing of evidence is a bit risky, but luckily, no one had lived in this apartment since 1977. Regardless, the appliances worked like a charm, there is some food in the fridge, and his old foster parents were in Miami drinking Pina Coladas.
What makes it even better is that Brooke lives right next to him.
Speaking of the girl, Caleb wonders what she is up to. So he walked out of the old flat, knocked on Brooke's door, and waited for the girl to step out of the apartment.
"I'm coming!" Brooke yelled.
As Brooke came to the door, the shy Caleb smooths his hair and checked his breath if his mouth smelled.
Blood from his nose splatter on his vintage Public Enemy shirt, denim jeans, and black shoes. Caleb wipes the bloodstains until Brooke unbolts the door.
She shows up with long and curly hair. She wears a floral blouse, jeans, and no shoes.
But much to his horror, Brooke shows up with a Smith & Wesson pistol, pointed at Caleb's head.
"Give me one reason I shouldn't shoot you in the head," she growled.
Caleb puts on a nervous smile. He raises his hands in an attempt to calm Brooke down.
"Because I am a lovable person?"
"No, you're not."
"Does your grandma know that you're holding a gun?"
"She lets me shoot vermin with it." Brooke cocks her gun, then shifts it between his eyes. "And crazy serial killers."
Caleb ignores her. "Can I come inside your apartment?" he asks calmly. "I need to ask you something."
Brooke responds by stepping out of her apartment and closing the door behind her.
Okay. he thought. I guess that means no.
"What happened to your nose?" she asks.
"You don't want to know."
Brooke gives him another hard stare, then finally lowers her gun.
"Look, you need to be very calm," she instructs, dropping her pistol in her back pocket.
"I am going to fix your broken nose," she moves towards Caleb and presses his damaged nose with the back of her thumbs.
"This is going to hurt like hell."
Caleb tries to give her a nod, but the pain in his nose is killing him. "Do your magic, but please don't-"
Snap! Brooke realigns the bridge of his nose, causing the boy to yelp in pain.
"Holy fucking shit!" he shouted. His cursing awoke a Christian couple three doors down from Brooke's.
Caleb covered his throbbing nose with his left hand, cursing under his breath.
"Hey, don't curse so loud!" Brooke hissed.
"But it fucking hurts!"
Sighing, she lets go of his nose with no blood touching her fingers. "Now, if you excuse me, I need to take care of my neighbor's kids."
Wiping the crusty boogers and blood with his sleeve, Caleb asks if he can help her out.
But Brooke refused to let him peek inside her flat. "Get the hell out."
Caleb rolls his eyes in frustration. "Brooke, I am already outside of your apartment."
"The building, dumbass! I want you to get out of my apartment building!"
"I know how to take care of babies," he says softly. "I used to babysit seven foster brothers when I was a kid. If you let me inside, I will take care of them."
Brooke blinks at him slowly. She crosses her arms, then leans against the door behind her.
"If I let you in," she began. "You are just going to scare the kids."
"Are you seriously talking to me like I'm a fucking stereotype?" Caleb moaned. "I am doing this shit so I can have money in my pocket."
Brooke snorts a laugh. "So by killing a local gangster, you think you're serving your community?"
"Do you see any cops doing their jobs?" he sighs.
"And do you know why?" Caleb pressed.
She didn't say anything.
"Half of the cops are pathetic as shit," he went on. "And the other half is currently working for mob families, including the Maroni's. But you didn't know that, do you?"
Brooke sucks the insides of her cheeks, proving the boy's suspicion.
"No one takes you seriously, huh?" Caleb guessed. "Despite all of your talents, no fucking respects you?"
"That's none of your fucking business." she croaked.
"Oh please, you made it my business the second you fucked a mentally unstable rich kid." Caleb scoffed. "But what I don't understand is, why are you doing this?"
His feet made sluggish strides towards the troubled girl. There, he sees a dark bruise around her right eye, while a mall cut glides down her bottom lip.
"Did Vincent do something to your eye and lip?" he asks cautiously.
"I slipped on a bar of soap," Brooke replies.
"Oh. Wait, are you sure?"
Brooke scowled, "Don't you have a thing with your friends or something?"
Caleb thinks back to the time when his best friend Enrique was planning a pizza party for his artist friends yesterday.
He joined to support Enrique's successful portrait, but as time went on, he begins to study Enrique's gorgeous friends. Their clothes were vibrant and lifelike; the boys spoke eloquent languages, while the girls flaunt their privilege as if they were promoting Calvin Klein handbags.
The more Enrique and his new art friends talked, the more self-conscious Caleb became. So he lied to Enrique that he needs to use the restroom, packed his things, and head out the back door.
Gnawing on his bottom lip, Caleb looks up at a furious Brooke then shakes his head.
"I guess I don't have a lot of friends," he says quietly.
"You have Enrique." Brooke reminds him.
"He and I aren't getting along very well."
"Why?" Brooke's critical tone transitions to a sweet, nurturing voice.
Caleb touched the fresh injury on the back of his head, then looked at his fingers once more. The gash wasn't too deep, but it wasn't small either.
Studying the speck of blood, Caleb takes a deep breath. "Because Enrique wanted to change and I didn't."
Brooke nods. She gently strokes the cut behind Caleb's neck, until she felt the blood trickling down her finger.
"Come inside," she says softly. "I'll help you take care of that wound."
Caleb follows Brooke as he enters her downtrodden apartment.
Intense, bittersweet perfume flies through his nose. They walk into the living room to see three little boys sitting on the living room couch, watching Rugrats.
"Don't make any noise," Brooke whispers to Caleb. "It took me six hours to get them to calm down."
He laughs quietly, slinking past the silent kids. As soon as Brooke takes him to her bedroom, Caleb notices Brooke's bras and undies on the mattress then immediately turn his direction towards the door.
Brooke, on the other hand, is embarrassed.
She quickly hurries to the bed, snatches her undergarments, and oftentimes check to see if Caleb is looking. But much to her surprise, the boy already looked away.
"Look, I didn't see anything," he claimed.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah," he began sheepishly. "I didn't see anything."
Relieved, Brooke discards her undies in the closet the shuts the door.
"So, where are you from?"
Ignoring his question, Brooke takes a small vodka bottle and white First-Aid Kit from the closet then tells Caleb to follow her into the bathroom.
"Bend down under the faucet," she urged him. "I think I see something sticking out of your wound."
As Caleb obeyed, Brooke sets the First-Aid Kit next to her green toothbrush, takes out a pair of silver tweezers, plucks the small pebbles from his neck, then set them on a white napkin.
"Jesus, you got a lot of crap in there," she grunted. "Thank God that wound isn't too deep."
"Where is your grandmother?" asked Caleb.
"She is having a long Bingo Night with her friends," Brooke answers quietly. "So I am watching the house, looking after the kids, and finishing my homework."
Jesus Christ. Caleb couldn't imagine being in her shoes.
After cleaning out his wound, Brooke places the tweezers on the napkin. She unscrews the vodka, drinks it, and hands the bottle to Caleb.
"Drink it," she ordered. "See if it's clean."
Although he is vertiginous from his old job, Caleb takes the bottle and takes a few sips before gagging.
Satisfied, Brooke dumps the alcohol in his neck. The powerful fumes burn Caleb's nostrils. Blood and alcohol rush into the drain.
Caleb winced as Brooke begins sewing the wound.
"Ouch!" he groaned.
"Hold still," Brooke reassures. "I am almost done."
His eyes shut tight. The pain worsened as Brooke pierced the needle into his flesh and tightened the thread to close the small gash.
"Ow!" Caleb shouts. "Who taught you this doctor stuff?"
Brooke retrieves small scissors from the kit, then cuts the long thread. "My mom," she replied. "She and I used to volunteer at the hospital last summer."
"Wow." he moves his head away from the faucet head. "How long have you been working there?"
"A while." Brooke puts away her medical supplies in the First-Aid Kit.
"Why did you quit?"
"Because no one in that fucking hospital took me or my mother seriously," she admits.