Brother’s Keeper: Episode 10

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Jay reaches for his wallet and Alan tears open the bag of Haribo and turns it over into his mouth.

***

Jay is alone in the kitchen, cooking spaghetti carbonara. He enjoys cooking; he finds it therapeutic, although none of the healthy whole grain and high protein dishes he’s been cooking over the past years will go down well with Alan, so spaghetti carbonara it is – but made with fresh whole wheat spaghetti and unsalted butter; and with a lot more chillies than he’d normally cook with, because Alan loves hot food.

Suddenly, he hears a loud gunshot from the living room and instantly turns to the sound. He grabs the kitchen knife he’d used to dice the garlic and chillies and advances swiftly and quietly, like a glide on his tiptoes, to the doorway of the living room. He peeks in, only to see Alan obliviously lounging on a sofa watching the television loudly.

He tucks the knife in his sleeve, steps into the living room, and subtly scans the living room and windows, so as not to make his incessant extreme alertness evident to Alan.

‘That was the TV, I suppose,’ he says.

‘What?’ Alan asks, without looking at him.

‘The shot.’

Alan turns to Jay for a moment, amused, but instantly notices that Jay is serious, so he buries his amusement and says, ‘Jay, it’s Epsom.’

Jay nods.

‘It was Walter White,’ Alan continues and gestures to the TV.

Jay glances at the TV, but there is no sign of recognition of Walter White.

‘Breaking Bad,’ Alan proclaims.

Jay shrugs.

‘Never heard of it?’

‘Might have, but I don’t watch TV.’

‘Fucking hell. Get a life, mate.’

Jay smiles – he’d love to.

‘I’m just on the third season, but it’s amazing. You should watch it.’ He gestures to the TV. ‘Netflix – comes with the TV, has all the episodes.’

Jay nods and walks out of the room. He steps into the kitchen and immediately hears his phone – Alan’s phone, to be exact, but he’d borrowed it about an hour ago – on the kitchen counter ringing faintly over the loud television. He looks at the caller ID and instantly recognises the number as Mr Smith’s.

He glances towards the living room and then shuts his eyes for a long moment as he contemplates answering the call. He takes a deep breath, opens his eyes, and grabs the phone. He steps through the kitchen door into the darkness of the expansive back garden and shuts the door behind him.

He answers the phone with a cold, ‘Hello.’

‘Hello, Captain,’ Mr Smith says with his soothing voice. ‘How are you?’

‘Good.’

‘Good. How’s the home life?’

‘Good.’

‘Good.’

There is a moment of silence.

‘I have a job for you.’

‘I thought I needed a break?’

‘Well, now that’s up to you.’

‘What about the settling dust?’

‘It’s a long way from being settled. This job is right where you are.’

‘No.’

There is another long moment of silence.

‘I’m with family,’ Jay continues. ‘And this town is too small, I won’t risk it.’

‘Okay. Enjoy the break in your small town, Captain.’

The conversation ends, and Jay remains motionless as he stares into the darkness of the garden, deep in thought.

Suddenly, he rushes back into the kitchen and straight to the cooker to lift the pan of spaghetti carbonara off the fire. He tastes it and nods approvingly.

‘It’s ready!’ he calls out to Alan.

***

Jay and Alan are sat across each other at a large bespoke oak dining table in the rather cosy dining room. Jay watches Alan heartily eat his last fork of spaghetti while also engrossed by the large television hung on the wall beside them.

‘Why would you put a TV in here?’ Jay asks.

‘Why the fuck not? There is a television in every room,’ Alan retorts, and takes a gulp from his cold bottle of Peroni beer. ‘Actually, besides yours.’

Jay softly shakes his head in mild disapproval.

‘It’s my money. I fucking work hard for it. I …’

Alan is interrupted by his phone, which begins to ring. He pulls it out from his pocket and stares at the caller ID. He instantly turns the ringer off and drops the phone face down on the table.

‘I do what I want with my money,’ he continues.

‘Fair enough.’

‘Fair has nothing to do with it.’

Jay nods affirmatively at the comment.

‘So, tomorrow,’ Alan continues. ‘We are going out for dinner and then to a club …’

‘I don’t want to go into London.’

‘We’re not going to London. It’s on the high street. Epsom is picking up. It’s a new club; relatively; about a year now.’

Jay nods – he does that a lot.

‘The restaurant too, it’s been open on the high street for about three months. Food’s fucking good.’ He laughs. ‘I’m not saying your cooking is bad or anything.’

Jay is amused. ‘It’s cool,’ he says.

‘Damn right, it’s cool, or I’ll put my foot up your bum!’

They burst out laughing.

***

Jay jolts up in bed from a nightmare, sweating and breathing heavily. He quickly scans the bedroom at full alert – it’s clear. He takes a moment to regulate his breathing and glances at his wristwatch – “05:24 AM”. He slowly gets off the bed and walks out of the room.

He steps into the kitchen and heads straight to the fridge. He picks out a carton of orange juice from the fully stocked fridge and walks to the cabinets. He opens a cabinet and as he reaches for a glass, he hears Alan’s voice coming from the back garden. He walks quietly to the back door and peeks through the window – Alan paces along the garden, talking on the phone and anxiously smoking.

Jay leans on the wall by the doorway, away from the window, and listens.

‘ … you think I can pluck money from trees?’ Alan chides.

‘No, no, I apologise. I’m …’

‘I already told you. I can’t do anything till I get to work on Monday. No, sorry, Tuesday.’

‘I know I said yesterday, but I forgot it was a Bank holiday.’

‘Yeah, I did. You …’

‘200 now?’ he exclaims.

‘That’s too …’

‘Tuesday. Yeah, yeah, Tuesday.’

‘You don’t need to say that …’

‘I understand.’

There is a moment of silence and then Jay hears Alan’s footsteps approach the door. He bounces off the wall, walks quickly to the cabinet, and pulls out a glass as Alan steps into the kitchen.

‘Fucking cunt,’ Alan says to himself as he shuts the door, and is immediately startled when he sees Jay in the sparsely lit room. ‘Fucking hell!’ he exclaims.

‘Good morning to you too,’ Jay says. ‘You okay?’

‘Yeah, I’m good. It’s just work.’

‘At 5 AM?

‘It’s 5 PM somewhere. I’m going back to bed. It’s too early for your shit.’

Alan brushes past Jay and walks out of the kitchen.

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