sun + sums: dad!tommy snippets | the babies have a name now! also they’re delightful. etta does sums and also eats sand. violet is on this shit work work work work work work. tommy’s ya know. [wc: 756]
Notes: Special thanks to @jaybirbtodd for reading this and encouraging me to finish it ♥
Catherine held the burning cigarette between two trembling fingers, shaking free bits of ash onto the table below. The word was out: Willis was dead. The bastard left her with nothing but his gambling debts, and now the sharks were circling. Two of her late husband’s associates were standing in her kitchen, their appetites whetted for either cash or blood.
She looked up at the men, trying her best to hold back both tears and vomit. “I’ll get your money, I swear. I just need more time. Please.”
Vinny, the elder of the pair—a short man with a greasy black ponytail and a leathery face made for scowls—lunged forward and gripped the table with both hands, causing Catherine to jump back with a gasp and nearly spill from her chair.
“Do we look like we represent a charitable organization, lady?” he snarled, his upper lip curling to reveal crooked, nicotine-stained teeth. “We ain’t in the habit of offering leniency to junkies and degenerates.”
“Look around,” Catherine said, waving her hand at the dilapidated apartment. “I’ve got nothing to give you.”
She and Willis were never well-off but there was a time when this little apartment of theirs had a touch of class. She decorated it herself, kept it spotless—she desperately wanted her Willis to be happy and proud. She was a naive child back then, still wrapped up in a schoolgirl’s fantasy of having a “gangster” as a husband. But over the years their apartment’s upscale facade chipped away, much like that of their marriage. Now the home they had once shared was run-down and filthy. The plaster walls were full of cracks and yellowing from the years of cigarette smoke. The hardwood floors were covered in scuffs, scratches, and layers of grime. Rats and roaches brazenly scurried about from their holes in the woodwork. Most of the furniture and decor had been sold off to pay bills… or to feed her addictions.
“Please, you have to understand,” Catherine pleaded, her voice faltering now. “Willis left me with nothing. Not a dime. I’m a single mom with a kid to feed. Please give me a break.”
Vinny suddenly lunged at her again, grabbing her by the wrist. Catherine yelped as he yanked up her arm and ripped back her sleeve. The inside of her elbow was dotted with needle holes, marking her attempts to escape the pain of the present and return to those happier days when a well-kept apartment was her only concern.
“A kid to feed, huh?” Vinny scoffed. “Looks to me like you’re shooting most of his meals into your arm.”
Vinny’s partner laughed, and Catherine’s eyes darted toward the second man who hung back behind Vinny with his arms crossed against his chest. She didn’t recognize the tall, 30-something man, but those hawk-like features and twinkling, dark eyes of his sent a chill racing down her spine. Vinny had a reputation for his hot temper, but this other man with his calm demeanor and evident amusement for her situation seemed far more dangerous.
Catherine swallowed hard, hoping to hide some of her fear from these animals, but when she spoke her voice was a frightened squeak. “I’m gonna stay clean from now on, I swear. I’ll… I’ll go back to work. Whatever it takes. I’ll have your money soon, just please don’t hurt me.”
“Mom?” a small voice asked warily.
Catherine’s heart leapt into her throat and she let out a strangled cry. Vinny dropped her arm, and both men spun around to face the interruption. Behind them stood a 10-year-old boy, hands stuffed into the pockets of worn, school-issued khakis, suspiciously eying the strangers. There was no hope in holding back her tears now, which trickled down her cheeks at the sight of her son. Why? Why did he have to come home now of all times? She slid out of her seat at the table and pushed past Vinny, hurrying toward her son. The scrawny boy, with his mop of black hair and icy blue eyes, was a shadow of his late father. Even his casual stance and mistrustful frown reminded her of the man she once loved. Catherine kneeled in front of the boy. She pushed a curl behind his ear and forced herself to smile at him, but the boy glared through her, his eyes still fixed on the two men.
Fake MovieMeme: When their gangster husbands and brothers go off to fight, three women (and an incarcerated racketeer) create a territorial armistice between their respective territories until the end of WWII.