Powerless, Part II


Pic of the day, part i: The Triumph of Death, by Jan Breughel

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Probitas laudatur et alget.

Honesty is praised and starves.

Juvenal

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Continued from Powerless, part i:

Paul had an immediate change of heart. Not about his brother being dumb and desperate. The man clearly was both, there was no doubting that. Not about joining his brother in robbing an armored car. That would be about the dumbest thing he could do. No, what he changed his mind about was letting Dan walk away with those guns.

Every moment Dan had a gun was an another moment his brother was preparing to be stupid and dangerous. He could not let that happen. He turned around in the fog and began to run. Not a full speed run, he could still see his brother in the distance, and he was still a fair bit away from the door to his building, but a run nonetheless.

Paul didn’t need this. But then again, he didn’t need to see his brother dead or in prison. Better to save the little shit from himself before he hurt himself. He called out to his brother.

“Dan! Yo Dan! Hold up!” Dan didn’t respond the first time his brother called him, but at the second call he stopped and turned around. Paul stopped running after he saw he had his brothers attention. Dan looked quizzically at his brother. Dan and Paul didn’t really speak all that often, but when they did it was usually friendly. The exchange that occurred only a few minutes ago was the first even slightly tense exchange between them in years.

When they were young, they were close, one always sticking up for the other. Life and time separated them until recently, but the bond held firm. The tense tone of the exchange didn’t sit well with Dan, who at once felt like he did something wrong, and at the same time was doing the right thing, trying to make ends meet by whatever means were available. He felt he needed to make that point to his brother.

Dan slung the bag from off his shoulder and said “Paul, I… I’m sorry about before man. Things have really been a mess lately. Don’t know what’s come over me. I gotta do something.”

Paul’s response was swift. He quickly reached over and grabbed the backpack from his brothers hand. “Yes you do have to do something. But nothing with these.” He shook the bag at his brother and looked him in the eye, his own eyes blazing. Paul said “I’ve been watching over you, helping you every way I could for as long as I could. You’ve done the same for me.” Dan had been reaching for the bag, unsuccessfully.” Stop that, I’m not giving it back. THIS” he shouted ” IS FUCKING CRAZY. You’re better than this dammit.”

Dan kept reaching for the bag. Paul started to walk backwards slowly down the street, with his brother matching his pace. There were several people listening and watching now, though both brothers were too busy with each other to notice exactly who, and the fog didn’t make things easier.

“Paul, do you know how much I spent on those?!?!” His voice at once imitating and mocking his brothers tone. “Nearly $1500 bucks!!! I want that back! IT’S MINE!!!”

Paul said “Listen. You aren’t getting it back, K? Fuck that shit! I’m not gonna watch my little brother go to prison or rot in the dirt because he can’t find a god damn job! I’ll talk to some people at my office later today and see if I can get you in somewhere. Mail room, copy clerk, something. Just getting money rolling in. Mom, God rest her soul, would never forgive me if I let you do anything with these!”

Something broke when Dan heard the offer of work. Dan stopped reaching for the bag when his brother offered a job. He looked at him “You can do that? Try and get me in? I thought you said you couldn’t?”

Paul and Dan both stopped walking. The fog that was light before was starting to thicken quite a bit. “There is a rule against nepotism in general in the company, but there are a few sets of brothers working there. Only recently found out. If they can do it, so can we. So none of this cops and robbers bullshit out of you. Ya hear?”

“I hear ya!” was Dan’s response. “Anything bro. I just need to get my world back. I haven’t had a life since I lost that job. It’s been well over 2 years, and this shit is killing me. No income equals no life in this world, you know that. Ya can’t live on what unemployment gives, and they say I don’t qualify for training, for some odd reason. Bastards.” He sighed, and for a moment looked completely lost. Then his eyes hardened, and his face soured “Hundreds of resumes sent out. Changed my look, changed my resume, changed everything. Got me nowhere. Hard to keep faith in things turning out OK when the world abandons you, ya know?”

Paul felt for his brother. He had seen a man who was, if not successful, then at least a hard working and dedicated employee working at an investment bank. Sure he was just an in house messenger, but everyone there loved him. But when the financial crunch hit the firm, it went under, and everyone went with it. Everyone.

Paul said “I’m gonna do what I can to change that, get you back on your feet. The bastards who did this, who made this collapse happen are still there, but things are going to get better. I’ll do what I can. I have to get to work, and get rid of these things.” He said while shaking the backpack.

Dan didn’t reply immediately. He just looked at the ground for a few seconds, miserable, yet thankful his brother was looking out for him. “Thanks.” He said quietly. He added “Make it quick, I need help yesterday.”

Paul replied ” I’ll do what I can.” And went at a run back in the direction of his home, to drop the backpack off and get himself to his job.

Dan walked slowly to the front door of his apartment building. He didn’t know if he could take much more. The help felt good but it seemed, now that he began to think about it a bit more, like too little too late. He trudged glumly up to the second floor, took a left turn, unlocked the second door on the left and walked into his nearly empty apartment. The single lamp was lit in the far corner of the room, on a battered old end table with a few scraps of paper and a few old books on it. The light highlighted the cracks in the paint and the stains and dirt on the walls. On his small coffee table was a few coffee cups and a half empty beer that had been sitting there for a few days, and his laptop, cover closed. The message light was blinking on his phone.

He reached over to check and see who called. It was his wife’s number. No surprise, he was expecting a call from her. The message she left blindsided him.

She was leaving him.

For good.

To be Continued…

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Pic of the day, part ii: The Wedding Banquet by Jan Breughel

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Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se, quam quod ridiculos homines facit.

Bitter poverty has no harder pang than that it makes men ridiculous.

Juvenal

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.

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