Hold up, wait a minute! Before you read this, have you read ‘Forgotten Birthday Dinner’
Paula walked through her front door and kicked off her heels. Sweeping them into the corner of the room with her foot, she didn’t even bother to turn on the lights as she made her way across her loft and to the kitchen.
“What, no greeting?” Said a deep and unfamiliar voice.
Reaching in the back of her pants, Paula whipped out her gun.
“Woah, easy!” Said the voice as the shadowed figure slowly put their hands up.
Paula returned to the door and turned on the lights without taking her eyes off the figure.
“How the fuck did you get in here?” Paula asked, finger hovering over the trigger.
Her home was a fortress. Her loft was purposely disguised to look like an abandoned building and was accessed using a seven-digit code which she changed monthly.
“Dad gave me the code.” Said the deep voice.
Paula’s heart nearly stopped dead in her chest. Of her four brothers, she only had two living ones left: Louie, who was currently doing time upstate, and Mikey, the baby of the family. Mikey had been abducted by a rival family when he was ten and Paula was fourteen. Prior to his abduction, Mikey and Paula were as thick as thieves. Everywhere she went, Mikey was right there with her. Their uncles and some of their father’s friends would joke that Mikey would turn out to be gay if he kept spending so much time with his older sister but one day after Pauly pistol-whipped one of his oldest friends for making such a comment, the men quickly learned to shut up about the matter.
To Pauly, the sexual orientation of his children never mattered but in the face of the outside world, Pauly needed to set an example. He needed his friends to know that he wouldn’t tolerate anyone talking shit about his baby boy.
Paula flicked on the lights and found her baby brother sitting in the black lazy boy tucked in the corner of the room. His hair was long and unkempt, some of it falling over into his eyes. His face was covered in hair as well, his beard perfectly shaped with a straight edge.
Standing in the middle of her living room, Paula stared at the younger spitting image of her father.
“You’re not a little boy anymore.” She said, frozen in place.
Mikey laughed. God, he even laughed like their father.
“Nope. Not anymore.” He said.
The air around them was tense as Mikey shifted his weight from one leg to the other.
“What are you- how did you-”
So many thoughts were popping into Paula’s head, that she couldn’t even think straight.
“I was hoping we could talk. Do you have time for that? I made dinner.” He said pointing his thumb behind him to the kitchen.
“You broke into my house and cooked?” She said, shaking her head.
Mikey rolled his eyes.
“I told you, I didn’t break-in. Dad gave me the key.” Mikey said.
Paula shook her head once again before patting her brother on the arm and making her way to the kitchen, Mikey close behind. After making their plates, the siblings made their way to the living room where they sat down on the carpet and ate at the coffee table.
“So yeah. I decided enough was enough. That night, when everyone else was asleep I packed my shit and I got the fuck outta there.” Mikey said finishing up his story.
Paula was furious as she envisioned her mother allowing some asshole to hit her baby boy. The thought of it alone made Paula’s blood boil and her vision to turn red.
“So where’s this asshole now?” Paula asked as scenes of what she wanted to do to the man played out in her mind.
“Come on Paula, don’t ask me questions I can’t answer.” Mikey said.
Seriously? He was still willing to protect their mother after all she’d put him through?
Paula bit her tongue; Mikey already seemed upset and she didn’t wanna make it worse by arguing with him.
“So how long are you gonna be in town for?” She asked, changing the topic.
Mikey smiled a tight smile.
“Well, I was thinking of moving back. I still need a ‘face job’ and hell, I don’t even know if dad will even let me into the family business, but I’m pretty good with numbers. Maybe I can work with some of the accountants or something.” Mikey said.
Paula could see the stress and worry in Mikey’s eyes as he spoke about their father. If there were two things Pauly valued above all else; they were family and loyalty. If Pauly told you you were dead to him, that was it, you might as well pack your bags and ditch New York State altogether.
“Mikey, you were a fucking baby! Dad’s not gonna hold what that bitch did against you. ” Paula said.
Mikey sighed and Paula could tell that’s exactly what her baby brother needed to hear.
“I sure hope not.” He said with a nervous smile.
Paula patted her brother’s cheek lovingly.
“Tomorrow we’ll go to the safehouse and talk to him.” Paula said.
“Don’t you mean today?” Mikey said, nodding his head in the direction of the clock behind her.
Paula turned around and looked at the clock; it was four in the morning. Shit, she had to be up in four hours.
“Fuck. Yeah, today. We should get some sleep.” She said with a laugh.
Grabbing his face in her hands, Paula pulled her baby brother in close, pressing a kiss on his forehead.
“Welcome home baby brother.” She said.
Grabbing some clothes her father usually kept at her place just in case, Paula handed them to her brother along with a towel. Then, as he went to take a shower, she set up the couch.
Not wanting her baby brother to be alone, Paula set up one side of the sectional for him and the other side for herself. Then, when Mikey got out of the bathroom he laid on one portion of the sectional while she laid on the other.
Staring up at the ceiling, Paula could feel all the thoughts and questions buzzing around in her brain. There was so much she wanted to know. But they had more than enough time. So, setting all her curiosities aside, she closed her eyes and allowed herself to drift off to sleep.