Love & Hate – Chapter 21: Reassurance

Chapter 21 by Matt Wall

Bobby Bell looked paler than usual. His skin looked like wax that was about to melt and his jaw hung open a little lower than it did the day before, exposing his dry mouth to the air. His shirt was still soaking wet with nervous sweat, but it felt colder to him for some reason than it did earlier. Completely still, he sat with his hands placed perfectly on his knees, his eyes stared at the floor as he fell in a daze that could have lasted forever…

“What the hell are you doing in my office?” Billy Bell asked, to no response. “Hey! Bobby! What are you doing here?”

Bobby shook his head and blinked his eyes repeatedly as if he had just awoken. “Oh, nothing. I was just wanting to see you, that’s all.”

Billy began looking through a file. “You have seen me. Now what?”

Bobby tried hard to force himself to swallow. His bone dry tongue making it nearly impossible. He cleared his throat. “I just wanted to see how you were. How everything was going.”

“It’s fine. Are you done?” Again, Billy busied his eyes with everything in his small office other than Bobby.

Bobby sighed. “Why do we have to be like this? Why can’t we have a normal conversation, ever?”

“Because, Bobby, you are rarely a normal person. You are usually drunk or asking for money. Do you blame me for never really looking forward to our little chats?”

“You know, before dad died…”

“I’m gonna stop you right there. If you think that by bringing up our father, that I will end up with a soft spot in my heart for you, you’re crazier than I thought.”

“It’s just that I would really like us to start over, you know? We weren’t always like this.”

“You’re right. We weren’t always like this. You used to be a decent human being, long ago. You weren’t high or drunk all the time. You weren’t stealing from the family. You weren’t letting us down, constantly.”

“People can change, Billy.”

“And that takes time. Not just a one off in my office. Now is there anything else that I can do for you, oh, my loving brother?”

Bobby stared him in the eye and shook as his anger was about to erupt in the room. “No. I just needed some reassurance that I was about to do the right thing.”

“Did you find that?” Billy chuckled. 

Bobby balled his fists. “Oh, yeah. I have no doubts now.”

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