Obscene Gestures

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Chapter 17

The Clifton brothers sat quietly in the back of Apollo’s SUV. He just picked them up from their grandmother’s house to take them on their first outing together. He fought with himself all week over what he could do that would cement their friendship and begin the road to trust he knew they needed. He knew it would involve food at some point in the day but what was he supposed to do with an eleven year old and a ten year old? He decided they could talk about it over burgers so he stopped at a local diner.

Once the trio was sat comfortably in a booth, a waitress was right on them. Well, she was right on Apollo. He twisted away from her and ordered drinks. “Look, do you mind?” he said, finally frustrated he couldn’t breathe because she was pressing so close to him. “I got my friends here and a very serious girlfriend. Like so serious she’s wife material. Can you back off? Please?” The buxom blond narrowed her eyes and huffed as she pulled away. Turning to the boys, he sighed. “You know, fellas maybe this wasn’t such a good idea to come here. Let’s go. I got a better place in mind.” He stood, shoving past the waitress and led the boys back out to the car.

“Wow,” Jordan blew out a breath. “Could she be any more obvious?” Apollo laughed, getting everyone settled back in the SUV.

“I know right?” Jake piped in. “Can you say desperate?” These guys were too much.

“My brother Julian would have called her vdélla,” Apollo said.

“What’s that?” the boys asked in unison.

“Vdélla means bloodsucker, a leech. Basically a woman who only wants her fifteen minutes of fame or just wants to be with you for what you can give her.” The boys nodded their heads in understanding.

“Yeah I get it,” Jake said. “She’s a gold digger. I ain’t got no time for that.”

“Dude, you’re ten. You shouldn’t even be thinking about girls until you’re…well…shit. Never mind.” Apollo couldn’t chastise the boy. He had been girl crazy from birth if he believed the stories his father told him.

“Ah, golden boy got a history with the honeys,” Jordan laughed. “I knew it!”

“You are too young to hear my history, little man. When you are older, much older I’ll tell you. Right now all you need to know is that Tess is my one and only.” Jordan smirked in the rearview mirror. They pulled into the parking lot of Persephone’s. Dominic greeted them at the door, wrapping Apollo into a big hug.

“Nephew!” he exclaimed. “Are you multiplying?” He grinned at the boys who were just a step behind Apollo. Holding out his hand, he introduced himself. “I’m Dominic Dakiedes. Welcome to Persephone’s. Hope you boys brought your appetites.” The boys shook his hand, returning the introductions. Dominic led them inside to a private table.

“This place is lit, bro!” Jake exclaimed. Dominic laughed. “When I get rich, I’m definitely bringing the honeys here for dates. I’m sure to get lots of kisses then.”

“My kind of man,” Dominic laughed, clasping the boy’s shoulder.

“Uncle Dom, don’t encourage the kid,” Apollo chuckled. “And no, you can’t tell him any of my stories either so don’t even think about it. I don’t trust you to keep it PG.”

“Ah you know me so well, Pollo. Stephanie will take good care of you. I’ll have your food out to you shortly. You boys ever had Greek before?” When they shook their heads, he feigned hurt. “How is that even possible? Now you have to try everything.” With a wink and a smile, Dominic disappeared into the kitchen. Stephanie was a friend of Stella’s who’d landed a job as a server. She was pretty and sweet. More importantly, she treated Apollo like any other customer.

“Well who are these two cutie pies with you, Pollo?” Her bright smile brought pink cheeks to the Clifton brothers. They introduced themselves, Jake going so far as to kiss her hand. She giggled and ruffled his hair. “Oh my gosh, you’re adorable! I have a special drink in mind for you boys so don’t go anywhere. I’ll be back in a minute.” She turned and walked toward the bar to mix their drinks. She made a non-alcoholic version of a killer kool-aid. When she brought it to the table, Jordan’s eyes lit up.

Dominic brought plate after plate of food to the table, determined the brothers were going to try everything on the menu. They stuffed themselves, sampling a little bit of everything and moaning about how good it was. Apollo had a feeling his uncle made so much so there would be an excuse for the boys to take home leftovers. He knew where they came from and his father’s heart went out to them. He could do them a solid and provide a good meal for them with enough to take home and spoil their parents.

Jake leaned back in his seat, patting his protruding belly. “Dang, Pollo that was amazing! I don’t think I can eat another bite. At least not for another thirty minutes.” Apollo laughed, settling back in his own seat.

“That’s ok, man. Greek food is the best. You guys can come over to Pop’s the next time we have a big family dinner. Yia Yia’s spanakopita is the bomb.”

“You’d really have us over to your house?” Jake’s eyes were filled with trepidation.

“Yeah of course I would! Why not? Maybe you could even bring your parents. I’m sure they’d love it. Give them a chance to relax and just be your mom and dad for a change.” Oh shit. Jake’s brown eyes filled with unshed tears. He launched himself into Apollo’s arms and let the tears fall. Apollo just wrapped his arms around the boy and held him, letting him cry. He had a feeling Jake needed this release. He didn’t speak, just rubbed soothing circle’s on Jake’s back. When Jake pulled away, he sniffed and wiped his cheeks. “Feel better, filarákos?” Jake nodded and sat back down.

“What does that word mean, Pollo?” Jordan asked softly.

“It means pal. A filarákos is a good friend.”

Filarákos.” Jordan repeated the word a few times, barely above a whisper. “Is it ok if I call you that?” With a big smile, Apollo squeezed Jordan’s shoulder.

“I would be honored to be called your pal, buddy.” The rest of the meal passed in animated discussion about anything and everything. The leftover food was boxed up and waiting in Apollo’s SUV. They were heading to the arcade to play some video games then off to catch the latest superhero movie in the theater. It was dark when he drove the boys back home. When he pulled into their driveway, a woman stood on the small front porch. It must be their mother. She had a big smile on her face and her arms were opened wide. But, she looked tired. Apollo could feel the exhaustion rolling off her in waves. He made his way to the steps, holding the bags of food in his hands.

“Mrs. Clifton?” he said

“Yes that’s me but you can call me Celia. You must be Apollo. My boys have talked nonstop about you.” She looked just like Jake or rather Jake looked just like her. “Please come in.” She motioned him inside the small house. “I know it’s not much but it’s ours.” Apollo followed her into the kitchen, setting the bags on the counter.

“I took them to my uncle’s restaurant for lunch today. Have you ever had Greek before?” Celia shook her head. “Well then I think it’s about time you did,” he said with a wide smile. “There’s plenty here for all of you. Uncle Dominic doesn’t know how to do ‘small’,” he chuckled.

“You don’t have to do this, Mr. Dakiedes,” she said softly, a worn smile on her face. Apollo looked at her with confusion furrowing his brow.

“Do what, Celia? And Pop’s not here. He’s Mr. Dakiedes,” he chuckled again. “Pollo, please.” She nodded and chewed on her bottom lip.

“I know to you it looks like we don’t have enough but I assure you, we get by. Sure, things are tight but we make it. Your organization has done plenty already by giving my sons something to do besides get in trouble. That’s more than we could have asked for.” Realization dawned on Apollo. She thought he was taking pity on the family because they were considered poor. Wow.

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