Disorder Ch. 09

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Disorder Ch. 09

Unholy Consort

“Huh… Weird.”

Charles turned over the wooden board in his hands, frowning at the numbers and letters spaced out around the exterior, a little triangle of leather, supposedly so that some manner of communication could be channelled through it, rested in the middle, laid over smooth wood to give it shape. He splayed his fingers out along it, following the grain, while Soren was otherwise engaged with picking up something for his mother or something. Whereas Charles thought that it must have been nice to have someone that he actually cared enough for to make a special trip and a special purchase for, he’d never had the same feeling in his gut, he could not say. Family was…tentative and tenuous at best those days.

And it was fair enough that it was, even though he had not really actually addressed just why his guts twisted and his breath came short at times, imagining that something more was coming. Perhaps none of the three brothers were the healthiest individuals but Charles found himself more and more restless after John’s death, right up from the very moment that that breaking, crackling call came through from Donnie, the one that had changed everything forever. Nothing would ever be the same, even though he had not been all that close with John. In all actuality, he had done his best to keep him out of his home, although he’d moved to another district of the city, somewhere closer to the circles that he could push into, all for his own entertainment. There was only so much boredom he could take, after all, only ‘earning’ through illicit means what he needed to get by, although much of that was stealing. Donnie had made sure he didn’t need to do much after everything, to be fair, but that just left him with more and more time to think, keeping odd hours up late into the night and sleeping erratically.

Still, admitting to something being off was hardly his style and he got a free pass on the family front. Soren, however, was not one who could or would so easily let his strange behaviour pass by, as distant as they had become. Their relationship — friendship, what it was — came and went and Charles could not have honestly have said that the only one that he had satisfied his needs with was Soren, though there was something of an understanding between them as he went out and got wasted and dragged himself near enough home some decrepit nights.

Maybe the understanding was one-sided at the end of the day but he’d keep on going and doing what he was doing until things cracked on to a point where he needed to address them. With how evasive Soren was, slipping away as he ascended the career ladder, finally making his big break, there wasn’t much of a need to really get into the nitty-gritty crappy detail of things. And Soren had more friends, new friends, extreme sports that he could only really undertake because of how hard and fast Charles had pushed him when they had been younger. Maybe it was his fault that everyone was drifting away but he had enough going on to fill in the hopes, or so he thought.

“What?”

Curious, Soren paused, a bag in hand, something that seemed too small and too dainty for his size. Charles rolled his eyes. Just what could be of anyone’s fucking interest in an antique shop anyway? Something for those who had nothing better to do with their time than to look back, although perhaps that was a little more vehement a thought than it strictly needed to be as he did not want to look back. An Ouija board sat in Charles’ hands, however, and he could not have said, honestly, that his curiosity was not perked at least a little by it, something about the sensation of the smooth wood against his fingertips and his palms soothing, slowing him down like nothing else did anymore.

“That is weird,” Soren acquiesced, leaning in for a better look. “I’ve never seen anything like that in here before. Mom had a friend who thought she was a psychic a long time ago.”

“Was she?”

“No, got done for fraud.”

Even Charles had to scoff a short, abrasive laugh at that, drawing the attention of the store owner who frowned and peered at him over his sharp spectacles, perfectly deigned for an elderly, wizened face. He didn’t want the likes of Charles in his shop no more than Charles wanted to be there and Charles’ passing fancy proved as fleeting as his attention, the painted, black letters glaring out at him like the eyes of some kind of demon straight out of hell’s abyss itself.

But that idea hit a little too close to home. He pulled away, sucking in a breath that did nothing to at all alleviate the burning in his gut, writhing guilt like a myriad of serpents, all hissing and fighting to claw their way up from his stomach to his throat.

Not today.

“Can you believe some dicks actually think this shit is real?” He scoffed, tossing it back on the shelf. “You got what you came for yet?”

But Soren had, apparently, forgotten all about that as he took the Ouija board illegal bahis in lieu of his friend, studying it carefully.

“You know, it looks like a collector’s item,” he said offhandedly. “These go for a lot of money if you want to make a quick buck.”

Ah, just how far the tables had turned to put Soren in a place where he was giving Charles ideas on how to make money! Yet it was a legal one, if not one that he may just have to put a little bit of legwork in on. And, even in hindsight, Charles could not have quite said just what it was that drove him to roll his eyes, snatch the board rudely back off Soren and storm up to the desk, digging bills out of pocket. Maybe he was bored, maybe he was curious or maybe even he just wanted to think that there was hope of something more.

Who was to say?

*

Donnie glared at the Ouija board, which was, admittedly, far from innocent, with as much suspicion as Charles had expected him to. With his feet kicked up onto an ottoman that he’d had placed in Donnie’s home without too much backlash or snide, muttered comments (the best he could honestly hope for in that kind of situation), Charles shrugged and leaned back, appearing as nonchalant about as he looked. Which, in all due respect, was not very nonchalant at all.

“What? Thought it was interesting. Soren got it.”

Well, that was a lie but a lie that came with a hint of truth and the revelation of more information. Donnie raised an eyebrow but made no outward comment, softening his expression just a little. It had taken Charles a long time to say anything about, well, anything in his life and that was one area where John’s death had brought them, at least a little, closer together. They could sit back and have a drink (or ten) and talk about more than things that lay on the surface of life, introspection delving far more than skin-deep as they learned just who the other person had become.

“And just…what…” He started thickly, words moving sluggishly up from his throat as he cleared it. “What do you intend to do with it?”

“So formal, brother!”

Ah, there was the old spark of Charles lighting up in the backs of his eyes, a laugh on his lips and a glass in his hand. Strangely for him, he’d gone for whisky but it was hardly as if Donnie’s supplies of liquor were low in the slightest: a regular delivery kept those well-stocked, as needed, even though he didn’t drink as much as he had in the time immediately after the event that had changed everything. There was plenty to go around.

“Look, just a thing I bought,” he said, clearing the air of tension, although the broken nature of his speech, gruff on lips that it was not entirely suited for. “Thought you’d like to see, you know…”

And yet he trailed off awkwardly with a sigh that reverberated through the room, sliding his eyes away. He’d never much been one for making eye contact when something was going on and Donnie frowned at him once more, wary.

“I didn’t think you’d believe in all that crap.”

“Well, Small Donnie, someone would laugh to see us try.”

Donnie stiffened, sucking in a breath, eyes wide. The change in him was instantaneous and Charles knew that he’d made a mistake, stilling all of a sudden, watching his brother with the wary eye of a hunter who was being stalked by the cougar, the tables turned at the very moment where they were the most important to keep level.

“Never call me that.”

“Whatever, jeez…”

Charles rolled his eyes but the damage was done, tension crackling in the air between them, a palatable wall of static electricity throwing up a formidable barrier. Donnie’s heart pounded. Sometimes their voices were so similar that he almost couldn’t catch himself in time… But, no. Just a joke, a stupid fucking joke that a stupid fucking younger brother would make. Charles left the room briefly, just at the right moment to allow Donnie the space he needed, slumping forward with his head in his hands. His stomach turned over and he willed it, stubbornly, to stay put, although he wanted nothing more than to jab a needle in his arm at that very moment. It had usually been John that had stuck him, only using drugs recreationally before. Now, he was a pro at finding a vein.

Glass tinkled from the kitchen and he winced, imagining his good glasses toppling to the floor. It was the way of the clumsier one, after all, although Donnie’s shakes had not gotten any better as he slouched his way up from addiction in the aftermath. Drugs, after all, did not discern between people, much like death did. It would be better once he was back to his old self, but he wasn’t all that sure anymore that there was any kind of an ‘old self’ to return to with John gone.

A drink pressed into his hand and, automatically, Donnie curled his fingers around it with a grunt, not caring what it was.

“Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it. Ever.”

The lighter lilt of his tone at least helped soften the tension between them and Donnie tipped illegal bahis siteleri his head back to down the whisky in one, the burn lingering for the intensity of the liquor. It was really a wonder that he had any taste buds left with how much he abused them with alcohol but, maybe, that was a result of the little bit he had held back before and was getting back to. Just the sound of that name, well… It had caught him off-guard, to say the least, but he didn’t have to think about that for the moment. He was well enough used to turning his thoughts to more interesting matters, other matters that they didn’t really have to consider the emotional impact of.

Better not to think too much into things sometimes.

“So, what is this bullshit all about then?”

Heavens, he’d never before sounded more like John than he did right then. But the board twisted something in his gut, the hint of a memory that a drug-fuelled stupor, before, had told him simply had not existed. And, truly, he could not have been blamed for what he’d seen then, why something as ridiculous as an Ouija board stirred up such a sense of unease in his gut. It was a stupid thing, really, to mess around with even back then but he eyed it as if it opened a door to a new world and still one that he didn’t want to explore at the same time, good and bad coming together in conversely equal measures.

Yet…

He bit his lip — just the inside, so that Charles could not quite see, hiding his emotion behind a bland, bored mask. He’d copied that one from John but even he had not quite been able to perfect it, as much as it still sent a pang through his heart. Did Charles realise, even after the fact, the true depth of how close they’d been? That was more than just one kind of being family but something more, even through the debauchery of running the drug empire. And that was difficult enough to keep going on its own.

But that was a thought that he didn’t want to follow through either and he frowned, looking down and pressing the tips of his fingers together, the board calling the eye almost as if it was controlled and a symbol of an otherworldly, powerful force. And, at the end of the day, it was just a piece of wood, regardless of how pleasant it was in itself to look at, the grain easy on the eye, and the leather covered pointer thing (well, it would be on Donnie to not remember what something like that was actually called). There was nothing in it and a distraction was a distraction at the end of the day.

Still… He coughed lightly and strove to appear offhand, brushing his fingers back through his hair as both brothers, somehow, managed to avoid eye contact despite trying to gauge the other’s reaction — quite obviously at that too.

“Do you remember that last time with this thing?” Donnie said, a scoffing edge entering his tone. “Hell… I thought there was something there, in the room with us. Do you remember that?”

Casting him an odd look out of the corner of his eye, Charles fussed and set up the board on the ottoman, although it was merely there as an object of study; he showed absolutely no inclination whatsoever to actually use it. His finger covered the engraved letters much as Donnie’s had, although he did not press down into the indentations formed there, perhaps as hesitant to push the matter as Donnie was.

“What are you talking about? I never even knew about this except from that weird horror flick before a couple of days ago when Soren was gassing on and on about it.”

So, he didn’t remember. Although it sent a chill down his spine that Donnie fought like the blazes to shake off — ignore it, just ignore it — he knew that it was all well and fair enough. Getting blackout drunk in those days was hardly a rare occurrence and just one of the few ‘family’ activities that, at least, they could agree on. There wasn’t all that much, in all honesty, for the two of them to talk about, even though John had had more in common than Charles, in a way. They had not been the same, their differences setting their back teeth on edge on more than one occasion, but things had worked and flowed a little more easily for them than they ever had for Charles and Donnie.

That was why the alcohol flowed, sometimes weed too or sometimes something more — whatever they felt like. And they weren’t always on the same thing, although they did seem to have a particular liking for hallucinogenic drugs when together, tripping off into another world where it seemed that the very fabric of reality shifted and swayed, trembling through the ether of matter that may or may not have been there. That did not mean that they remembered the trips they took after the fact but it did make sense, afterwards, that Charles could not remember his worry, his fear, his concern… All for those eyes and the smirk that had lain behind them.

“Anyway, Soren thinks I can sell it.” Charles continued on with a laugh but there was no humour in it, pushing the board away with a sharp, jerky canlı bahis siteleri movement with the heel of his hand. “I don’t think there’s anything in it really, don’t know why I bought it.”

Oh, how he had changed. He had always been touch and go, fleeting, with his money, whatever it was that he brought in and stole when he actually needed it. Donnie didn’t question it, just made a deposit from time to time into one of his bank accounts, whether or not Charles used it. It wasn’t his money but it made him feel just a tiny little bit better to do it, to know that it would be there if Charles ever needed it, if his means sent him down the same path that Donnie had drank himself into time after time after time again. But now he was the one who had to be strong, who had to keep things together.

And now it was that damn Ouija board staring him the fuck down with its jaunty little gaze and the bastard fucking eye carved into it, mocking him like it actually had any right to be there. His mouth turned down into a sullen frown that did not suit his otherwise delicate features, hair falling across his cheeks as he tipped forward, loose above his shoulders yet shorter than he had previously kept it. A new look had made him feel better, a little more refined, even if he could not imagine returning to the styles of much younger days and having it cropped short like most professional men in the business world.

His father had worn his hair like that. And, so, he did not. Never again.

“Well, if you’d like to list it up somewhere or see if it’s actually worth anything significant, I can take a look for you,” Donnie suggested, words coming out so slowly and thickly that he may as well have been speaking through a layer of mud. “Maybe good, maybe not. You won’t know until you look.”

“I know that.”

Charles grunted and shot him a look that could have meant any number of things but Donnie did not flinch, meeting his gaze levelly and steadily. Yes, that was good: better than thinking about the board. Better than the stirring, grinding unease in the pit of his stomach, guts clenching in as if there was something more there that he had to fear, had to be wary of.

“You talk to me like I’m a child — don’t you remember everything that I’ve had to help you with over this time?”

Smirking, Charles cocked his head to the side and Donnie bristled, fingers reflexively clenching into a crude fist.

“What are you talking about?”

“Ah, picking up the pieces, the groundwork, your employees…”

The last word came out as a sneer, lip curling up for just a fraction of a second: he wasn’t all that far gone. And, now that Donnie was paying just a little bit closer attention to him, the tension in the line of his jaw was a little more evident, speaking volumes of the work he’d been taking on.

“Yes, those people — do you know what they’re really like, Mr-I-work-behind-the-scenes-and-only-behind-the-scenes? They’re unsavoury character of the worst kind, really, but you wouldn’t know that, having left it all to John and now me, would you?”

“That’s enough!”

Standing in a snap of limbs, Donnie balled his hands into fists, even though he didn’t quite know what he was trying to do with them, shaking all of a sudden with a white-hot rage that did not quite feel natural coursing through him. That could have been the point where another kind of brother would have known that he’d gone right off the deep end and pushed his brother a little too far, apologise or at least defused the situation in some kind of way. But Charles matched him stride for stride, matching up with him, almost on the same level. It was hard to say whether Charles was actually a bit taller than him then or whether it was the fact that he was wearing shoes over his brother, Donnie’s toes curling with an oddly apt sense of vulnerability into the carpet. Fuck being naked: being barefooted was the true vulnerability when it came right down to a battle of wills.

“You volunteered for it. You said you’d do it. You can back right the fuck out at any time.”

Time to channel his inner John. It was easier than he had even realised that it could be to pull on that rage, the fury over the injustice of his death. Although it was strange, even to him, to seek a sense of righteousness and fairness in the death of one who had, of course, out and out been a criminal. Of course, there was no denying it: it was what it was. And yet he wanted to make it right, to set everything straight and clear and fair where the waters had become so very muddied and his younger brother roiled and seethed at the crudity of being ‘forced’ to step into shoes that were too big for him too soon.

Maybe Donnie should have sold off the ‘company’ after all. It was much easier just to skim bank accounts and he was so, so very fucking tired of a challenge. Challenges were overrated.

“You didn’t have to do any of this,” he said, slowly advancing until he was nose to nose with his brother, breath rasping in a throat that was, abruptly, sore and tight, aching for something more. “None of it. You know this. So, why now do you think that it’s right to throw your toys out of the pram like the child you say I’m treating you as? Why did you come here?”

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