F I F T E E N
Flashback - before she went to Dani’s house
What a great way to start my morning off. All I wanted to do was clean out my mug so I could have some coffee, but noooo. The water pipe connected to my sink had to explode and pour water all over my floor.
"Mother Theresa on a stick!" I shout, immediately cupping the dripping pipe. I already turned off the water, I don't know why it's still leaking.
I knew I should've had it patched up when the plumber dude came to fix my dishwasher. Now I'm stuck with a damaged pipe.
The water spills through my fingers and continues to pile upon the floor.
"Oh forget it," I mumble and let go of the tube. What was me holding it going to do anyway?
Swiftly standing back up I leap to the other side of the stove, across the water, and open the drawer that contains all my kitchen towels.
How many do I need?
Looking behind me I check the size of the puddle and my eyes grow wide. It's almost covering the whole floor.
At this point, I'm going to have to use all of them.
Quickly filling my arms with as much fabric I can grab, I turn around and throw them all on top of the water, watching them instantly darken upon impact.
Grabbing more towels, I continue to throw them on top of the mess.
"I'm sorry my friends, but you must be sacrificed. It's for a worthy cause," I whisper to the drenched cloth on the floor.
After using fifteen kitchen towels, two beach towels, and ten paper towels I'm finally able to walk across the tiled floor without feeling like I'm about to slip and eat shit.
The front of my shirt sticks to my body like a second skin and no matter how many times I try and pull it away it just comes right back, making me shiver every time from its coldness.
Squatting in front of the cupboard under my sink again, I take a peek at the semi-dripping pipe.
I touch and prod it in certain places, even shaking it to see if anything is loose. Following this thorough investigation, I'm able to come to a conclusion.
"I have no fucking idea what I'm doing," I groan and sit on my bottom, not caring that I'm soaking my undies, "all I wanted was one cup of coffee. What did I do to not even deserve that?"
You left Dani by herself at the cafe last night.
Yep, that makes sense. Karma really came to bite me in the butt this morning.
Welp, there's only way thing I can do. Call somebody to do the job for me.
Blindly throwing my hand above me on top of the counter, I search for my phone.
Feelings it's leathery case, I snatch it and call the one place that I know would never refuse my services.
Pick up, pick up, pick up.
"Hello." Success! "Thank you for calling Johnsons General Hardware shop, I'm Michael, how may I help you?"
"Michael! Feels like I haven't talked to you in forever. So glad you answered though, I don't know what I would've done if Jackson was the one to pick up the phone." Jackson is the manager of the store and I swear every time I see him around town he has it out for me. He's only two years older than me and he already acts like a grumpy old man. I'm only twenty-seven!
You weren't saying that the last time you guys were together.
A sigh from the other side of the line brings me back. "Oh Claire, it's you. What are you even going on about, we literally just talked two days ago. Also, you do know you're calling at six in the morning right?"
"What can I say? Early bird gets the nice warm bagel that the New Yorkian dropped on the sidewalk, you know?"
I shake my head, then realize he can't see me. "Nevermind. I called because the pipe underneath my sink is leaking and it got water all over my floor. Is there any way you or one of the goons you work with can come over here and fix it?"
He sighs again. "Yea, sure Claire. You're going to have to wait until ten though because I'm the only one here right now and I can't leave. So I'll send the next person coming in and that would be uh..," I can hear him rustle some papers in the background.
Please don't be who I think it is. Anyone but him.
I groan loudly. "Nope! Fuck it, I'll be there in fifteen."
"Come on, you can't hate the man that much," he cries.
"He's the scum beneath my fresh washed boots. See you soon. Smooches!"
"Claire, no, you can't. We're not officially opened ye-" I hang up the phone. He'll live.
I pick myself off the floor and head to my room, needing to look somewhat presentable before I leave the house.
Pulling into the hardware store at the crack of dawn, without even having a sip of coffee, was already making me on edge and cranky.
Everything seems so bright yet so dull. How is this even possible?
I give myself a few pats on the cheek, needing to feel somewhat awake. "Get in and get out. Don't talk to anyone more than you have to." I can't remember the last time I skipped out on my morning coffee and the last thing I need is to snap someone's ear off for being overly polite or for doing their job.
I spot two other cars in the parking lot with me. One, I know, belongs to Michael because he drives a Toyota, the other one I'm blanking on. The truck seems oddly familiar but I can't put my finger on it.
Whatever, that's not important anyway. The only important thing is someone telling me how to fix my busted pipe.
Grabbing my purse from the passenger seat I step out of my car and head to the front door.
I tug on its handles but it doesn't budge.
You have got to be kidding me.
I bang my fist against the glass. "Michael, I know you're in there. If you think I'm gonna leave you're wrong and you know I won't. Please, save both of our time and unlock the goddamn door," I shout, allowing my crankiness to take over.
I swear this man has been testing my patience since birth.
I see the tips of his light brown hair first before he comes fully into view, walking towards me when he realizes I'm not leaving.
"Do you really have to be like this so early in the morning? We don't open until seven and you know this," he says as he pulls the unlocked entrance open so I can walkthrough.
I roll my eyes. "You're acting as if I came here of my own free will."
"You did come here of your own free will, if you would've waited until ten then someone would have come to your house and looked at your shit." He passes by me to stand behind the main counter for checkout.
"Why are you making such a big deal if I'm here? I have eyes ya know, I can see that there's another car in the parking lot so obviously, you're open for business and you're just hating on me, per usual."
Why does this matter anyway? I just need to find out how to fix my sink.
Raising my hand, I stop Michael before he can speak. "Forget it, can you help me figure out what I need to do for my busted pipe so I can go home?"
He looks like he wants to say more but he bites his tongue and lets out an exhale. "Describe to me what happened and I'll see what I can do."
Nodding, I begin to tell him about this morning's events. I give him every single detail, down to the last part of me sitting on the wet floor to call him. He asks me questions in return, such as how old my apartment is and when was the last time a professional checked my sink.
Finally, he comes up with an answer.
"It sounds like the wash in your pipes has disintegrated from several years of erosion and usage. The wash helps keeps the pipe in line and stable from the inside while the screw stables the whole thing from the outside. So without the wash, you'll continue to go through what you've experienced already every time you turn on the sink," he says with certainty.
I pinch the bridge of my nose, letting his words sink in. "Is there any way I would be able to do this on my own?" I don't want dirty Jackson coming into my home, he'll end up ruining its energy just with his presence.
"Well," Michael starts off, "if you know how to use a wrench, and you don't use your man hands to destroy things, I guess you could fix it up yourself in only an hour or two," he finishes with a cheeky smile.
I return his smile with a shit-eating grinning. "Well, why don't you go get that for me before I show you what my man hands can really do."
His eyes narrow after hearing my comment, but he walks out from behind the counter nonetheless. "You're so lucky you're my sister, or else I would kick you out and make you wait until seven."
I wave him off. "Yea yea, now hurry up, I have stuff to do today." I actually don't, I just love making him anxious and angry.
He flips me off before turning down a certain aisle.
Looking around the store I finally notice how lifeless it is without people. I wonder where that other person is, maybe they also busted a pipe and needed to repair it? Maybe we can be pipe bustin' partners in crime.
It's still nagging me that I don't know who the owner of the truck is. I should know everyone in town by this point in my life.
I mean, this person has to be somewhere in the store, right? Maybe I can have a little looky look around this joint before Michael comes back and insults my hands again.
Looking around, I make sure that my annoying brother isn't making his way back and dart off to a long aisle on my right.
I make it to the cable section and pause, listening for any sort of rustling but hear none.
Hmmm. If I were a person who owned a big ass truck, what section of the store would I be in?
The automotive aisle.
Trying to run as silent as I can, and clutching my purse to my chest like a mother koala, I run across the tile and stop right before the corner of the aisle. I lean around the edge and take a peek.
"Unbelievable." Tapping my hands against my thigh, I try thinking of other places this mysterious person could be. It's a big store but it's not that big, they have to be somewhere.
Why am I doing this? It's not that important and Michael is probably back at checkout wondering where I'm at.
Shaking my head, I turn back. You win this time unknown person.
I make my way to the counter but a large blonde man stands right where I was before I went on my search.
The giant's head pops up from his phone and the intensity of his eyes catches me off guard.
"Claire," he says roughly.
What in the world is he doing here at this time?
I maintain eye contact and force myself not to buckle. "What are you doing here so early? I thought you'd be off running with wolves or fighting off big ol' bears."
He snorts. "You're one to talk. You just roll out of bed before coming here or are you secretly related to giant furry beasts?"
The urge to not touch my hair is hard. I know it looks fine, he's just trying to mess with me. "Whatever, you have stupid hair too," I mumble.
"Great comeback. Very mature. I guess I could also ask why you're here so early but quite frankly, I don't like you, therefore I don't care what you do with your time." With that, he looks back at his phone and tucks all of his items closer to his person.
My cheeks burn in rage. The feeling isn't mutual pal.
How dare he treat me like I'm the annoying insect in this situation. He lives in the fucking mountains and yet I'm being treated like the uncivil human being.
Like hell, I'm going to let him treat me like this.
In a rage, I stomp to his side, catching him unaware, and pull at the things in his hands. "Well, why don't you let me help you with your things, sir, since I'm like a peasant under your beautiful, clean, feet right now. I'm at your fucking service my liege." I sneer.
"What the fuck are you doing Claire! Let go!" He yells, and I should probably be intimidated by this, but I'm too angry to process things through.
With one final tug, he drops all of his stuff onto the floor.
I smirk in satisfaction and take a look at everything he had. My smirk slowly disappears.
A thick bundle of rope, sanitizer, heavy-duty bleach, a hammer, a box of nails, and a large extra duty roll of duct tape.
What could he need all this for?
"Claire?" I hear a voice yell from far off in the back of the store but I don't reply.
I shakily look up to Alex's face and see his murderous gaze already fixed on me.
"W-What are you planning on doing with a-all this stuff?" I get out shakily.
Instantly my mind goes to the rumors I've been hearing around town. About the girls from nearby towns who are going missing and being killed off, and then only reappearing as cut-up bodies.
My eyes go wide. Is he...behind all this? Sure, he's weird and intimidating in his own way, but there's no he could be doing this because if he was that means I've been letting Dani get closer to....a killer.
"Claire," he says a little too calmly and steps forward but I immediately jump back.
I can tell he's about to do something but the sound of squeaking shoes against the tiled floor makes us look away from each other.
Michael walks out from an aisle, a concerned look on his face. He's holding two small boxes which I assume hold the washes I need.
"You guys okay over here? I heard yelling." He questions and looks at the mess on the floor. His eyes find my widened ones and he tilts his head in confusion.
I'm about to verbalize my thoughts but a deep voice cuts me off before I can say anything.
"Yes, we're perfectly fine here. Just a little miscommunication, right Claire?" He looks at me with the same burning glare he gave me before, warning me that noncompliance will only end badly for me.
I cough and allow a strained smile to form on my face. "Yea, just a little miscommunication. We're fine." Hopefully, he can hear the fear in my voice and pick up on it.
Obviously, I must be asking an angel to do my laundry, because he completely ignores my silent plea for help and shrugs his shoulder before walking back behind the counter.
"Oh, Claire, I was able to find some washers and screws for you in the back. Let me ring him up first and then I'll get to you."
Brother of the year everybody. Give him a round of applause.
I stay put and watch as Alex bends down and grabs all of his stuff off the floor and places them on the counter. He stands dangerously close to my side, his body heat burning my whole arm.
I stare at him the entire time, feeling that if I take my eyes off him for one second he'll snatch me up and throw me in his car.
Michael rings up the last of his stuff and Alex gives him two twenties, mumbling out for him to keep the change.
He quietly collects his bags. Great, now all he needs to do is leave faster so I can talk to Michael without thinking I'm about to die.
"Shit," my brother says out of no where and sighs, "do you have a wrench at home?" He questions.
I slowly shake my head, peeking at Alex from the corner of my eye when I see he has stopped moving.
Placing my things into their own bag, Michael moves back out from around the counter.
No, no, no, no.
He rubs a hand down his face. "I'll be right back then. Don't go anywhere." And then he disappears from sight.
"Claire," I feel Alex's hot breathe on my ear immediately. "Whatever you conjured up in that one way-road of a mind you have, just know you're wrong." I gulp and tighten my fist, trying to hide its shakiness. We both hear my brother whistling as he comes closer. "I don't need you ruining my already tarnished reputation in this town, and Dani and I are in a good place right now, I don't need your stupidity ruining that for us, but knowing you, you'll end up doing that because you're only good at destroying things. So, if you whisper a word of what you think is going on here, I'll personally come after you and everyone you care about, starting with your brother."
Michaels bent head comes into view and I let out a small whimper. I would never be able to live with myself if I was the cause of something bad happening to him.
"And that's not a threat," Alex whispers, "that's a promise."
Coldness rushes around me as Alex then backs away and walks out the door, not once looking back at us.
I can't even move as I'm paralyzed with fear but Michael doesn't seem to notice.
"That'll be ten dollars even. Now get your mess and leave, I already have a headache because of you." Shakily, I pull out the bill and throw it on the counter. Grabbing my things I rush out of the store.
"Weirdo," I hear him whisper to my back but I barely pay attention with my mind buzzing.
Stepping into the now empty parking lot, I rush inside my car and try to calm down.
I need to warn Dani. No, if I tell her then she'll talk to Alex about it and then he'll know I blabbed.
But what kind of friend would I be if I didn't warn my friend that the man she's seeing could be potentially dangerous?
Think this through, you do tend to jump to conclusions sometimes Claire.
That's true. What if I completely misjudged the entire situation and me telling Dani causes something to happen that didn't need to happen all because I like jumping all the way off the conclusion cliff?
I'll just wait until Dani sees him acting weird for herself. Then, and only then, will I tell her what happened today.
My stomach growls. Great, now I'm stress hungry.
Maybe I should go visit Dani, just to make sure she's okay after last night.
And to make sure she's not kidnapped or dead.
Whipping out my phone I text her.
Me: I'm sorry for what happened last night. I was out of line and what I said was uncalled for. Can I come over so we can talk this out?
Perfect. Calm, cool, and collected. No sense of urgency or paranoia detected.
My phone chimes.
Red Head Queen: Sure. Let yourself in, you know where the key is.
"Oh thank god she's not dead." I sag in relief in my seat. She didn't seem overly happy in the text she sent, I need a way to make peace with her.
Hopefully, I can win her over with some noodles.
A new chapter in the p.o.v. of Claire! How did you guys like it?
I personally love her personality. She’s all over the place and I love that for her.
If you guys like these different points of view chapters, please let me know in the comments because I would love to make more.
Make sure to leave a vote!
Hope you enjoyed your time in Joker’s Basement