Chapter 1: Holiday Over time Pt. 1
44th Avenue, Hunters Point, Queens, NY
Today I heard from your uncle, over the phone with Zal, that you are spending your Holidays working in a liquor store there in New York. How beyond the pale are you reaching for?
I am writing this letter to make amends to you for something that I have done in the past. I want you to come home and support our family. This is not the best for you."
There were just three things that I knew for certain. I’m a son full of cowering dice. I despise my bloodline. I want to aim at normalcy. I did my best to pull out all the stops to live the life that I envisioned, but I guess I’m too ahead as these shackle of the past keeps bringing me back to the place I don’t want to be: home.
Sniffles come out of my nostrils, as I crumple the postal letter from my father. I didn't even try to finish the last paragraph. And there was no reason to keep pondering on it, so, I trashed the written message on a chit, hovering over it to continue my remaining shift for the night. I and my father were never on good terms, at least before my mother died.
For all I remember, there was a day when I humbly sat at my desk, tranquil at its best; just me and my books alone. When a knock on the door edge out the loudness of the silence in my room. I would never think that the knock meant I’ll have to move out of the house and never return, with bare knowledge of the happening. It was an order from my Papa, as expected. Worse, he never explained the reason nor faced me to confer what is happening.
The same day I packed my things; only taking in clothes and some personal journals and belongings, mostly gifts from my mother, and was quickly escorted out to our family mobile. The rest goes on like how history goes.
A few more minutes passed, and I never imagined that I’m still here draping on my stool, facing the counter as I wait for my shift mate, Aly, to come before I clock out.
The bell rings, indicating that a customer has entered the store. I restored myself to a normal position.
With my working shirt, I immediately wiped off the tears and snot on my face grabbing another box of Kleenex tissue, to wipe off the dried drops of tears on the counter. Erasing the evidence of me being oblivious for weeping.
Shoving the box aggressively behind the counter, right before the customer's arrival. The customer is just a local in the area. Mr. Chen, an old Chinese guy, runs a small business shop across the block selling traditional Chinese moon cakes.
"Oh! You again the young man. It's a holiday, why are you still working, boy?" Mr. Chen says, after grabbing a Rosé wine and setting it down on the marbled counter. With an utterly, thick eastern Asian accent.
"What can I say? Dave loves making me work late." I responded, running through the cashier for exchange. "Hmm, young man. Do you want to join me and my wife? Are you sure, you not lonely?" Mr. Chen asked sincerely to which I respectfully declined.
I simply smiled. Grabbing the scanner, running it through the bottle's bar code. The computer beeps and payment is confirmed. I handed off Mr. Chen's purchase, giving him his card. In all action, Mr. Chen simply agreed with me and left the store with a satisfied face, with nothing left to stay.
A few more moments have passed, and cleaning and organizing the branded alcohol can't any longer get to the bottom of my patience. The probability of running away from work is high at stake if I lost all the bars that abrupt me from making me do it.
I rolled the television on to watch something, making it the only thing being earshot inside the store. The NBC's flash report came into the panel; Massacre in LIC Pier an hour ago.
This raised my curiosity on the matter, so I revisited the visual report publicized by the forensics on the crime scene, and one thing confirmed my suspicion. It might be created by a professional slaughterer. Not just any other work of a normal slaughter, a trademark of a mob organization which is visible to the corpse carried out by a possible mob member.
What can I expect, syndicate is like a trend nowadays. Long before I was born. Long before my parents are born. It is the main rooted cause of crime, looming in this city, and sadly the authorities can’t hold such control over these people in power.
I turned off the television, rest my elbow on the counter, chin pressed down my hand, and looked at the outside of the store. Watching some people still walking, evidently shows that New York is a lively city even during this time of the year.
Pity is a disease on my behalf, seeing these residents doing the barest normal thing in the world to stay alive while their rights are slowly being taken by the wealthiest, is a thing that’s hard to get rid of.
What a sad Christmas it is to celebrate.
Ah, fuck. It's a holiday. The finals are near, I should be able to finish the requirements earlier than due and start preparing for the new bunch of school load. Before circumstances happen.
The bell over the door tinkled again, indicating a customer had entered the store. I faced the counter after a moment. The customer sauntered up to the counter, smelling differently. A silly smell, was it sulfuric carbon? Gunpowder?
Yeah, it is indeed a gun powder. I took a simple glance. Judging.
The customer was a tall guy, muscly and he is wearing a dark coat, head almost tilted down. Unexpectedly, I did a double-take at his physique. Splatters of unnoticeable material can be seen on his hair. His attire also suits his dead-looking face. Stark to be precise. Can he be the correlation to the crime earlier?
The guy seemed to be doing a double-take as well, he groaned. "Can I get you something?" I quickly reply.
The guy in front of me raised his brow and opened his mouth asking for a pack of cigarettes and a pack of strepsils lozenges. I shrug, "My bad, What was it again?"
He chuckled, looking at the stand of the display behind me "Can I get that pack of Marlboros? And a pack of lozenges for the throat? Any flavor could work."
"Oh, okay." I mentally slapped myself, "Shorts or hundreds?" I added.
"Shorts.” He shortly muttered.
A moment later, I felt a gaze following my every movement. If the tingling in my brain is right that he is, in fact, the perpetrator of the massacre reported on the news, I’m really in a bad position. As I finally reached the compartment where the lozenges are. I again faced the counter with the pack and box in my other hand, without looking at him.
"ID?" I asked. The other guy reached into his pocket and pulled out a wallet stuffed full of cash. I took the driver's license and inspected it.
"Decent?" According to his ID card, the customer- Oliver Williams- raised his eyebrow, seeking confirmation.
“You were decent,” I bitterly admitted, handing the ID back to him, “That’ll be 20.76.”
He paid in cash. And I punched the cash register for the change. But then he added another five dollars, "Consider it a Christmas gift. I think it could work us out a deal."
I shot my head up to glare at him again. Glaring doesn't help, idiot. You'll be dead by morning, body found on the ditch near the riverbank. The guy shrugged and looked at me. My eyes met a matching pair of his. "Rough night?" He asked.
"Sorry, yeah, yeah rough night, and thanks for this," I said, putting the guy's purchases on the counter towards him. Taking in the generous tip. "You need a bag?"
"No need. I can manage." Instead of taking the condoms and cigarettes, and walking out the door. The guy opened the pack of smoke and starts smoking. Revealing his bruised lips.
He must've fought someone. Unsurprisingly, what more can you expect in NY, this city is a playground of criminals. The whaling of sirens echoing outside the store ardently caught my attention, countless cop mobiles rushing along the avenue. For a moment; serving as a backtrack in this awkward scenario.
Fuck, are they looking for him?
The guy didn't bat an interest in the commotion outside, instead, he offered me his smoke.
I sniffed, “Sorry, I don't smoke," I sigh again. If he's not going to buy anything else, I wish he'll just leave. And I am tired to deal with anything.
He held up his hands, “I’m going.” As if he read my thoughts.
"Uh, h-have a nice Holiday, sir."
He pocketed the cigarettes and turned to leave. "Thanks." He added, leaving the store, back facing my way. His intimidating dark coat mixed along the fuzzy lights on the street, as if he’s one and belongs with the cold night. I sighed as I pinch my nose, out of uneasiness. What the hell is that guy? Santa Claus should definitely gift me something special for dealing with these weird customers, on Christmas Eve.
The bell rang for a few more minutes. But this time Aly appeared. "Hey, I'm here. You can go now-- You okay?"
I bit my lip and grab my bag, "Yeah, It was- nothing. Anyhow, I was expecting you to come earlier tonight." I commented.
"Oh, right. Sorry. I get to doze my daughter too late. Here, I brought you some meal from our little celebration for reparation. I have a hitch that you haven’t eaten anything yet,” She commented, handing me a prepared stack of the meal inside a paper bag, “Um, you look flushed and tired. Rough night?"
"Thanks for this—and yep...Actually, there's also a weird guy that also asked me that a few minutes ago."
"One of the douchès?" She asked, sappy.
"As usual." I simply got off the counter, the bag hanging on my shoulders.
"Oh, right. Lyon? I'll be switching schedules with Isaiah for three nights. I'm in an urgent situation, so if it’s not too much of a hassle to you—But hey, don't worry Dave agreed on this."
"Everything's fine with you, Aly. Not much of a deal, and it’s Isaiah that we’re talking about, he’s on the boat.” I hugged her quickly. Bidding her goodbye.
"I have to go." I cut off.
"Take care, and please be careful." She added. I grinned and rushed out of the store to catch the last train. I run and hissed as the air in the city seems to be colder than before.
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