Before he could register what was going on, Asciticus found himself having to dodge fists and kicking, restless legs. The sun had long set, the cold had long grown into something close to unbearable, the only heat was the metaphorical one Asciticus “felt” as he felt a sudden rush of both panic and excitement flow through the inner workings of his body.
“Give it to me! Give it to me, now!”
Asciticus watched his customer attempt to take away his acid by force in pity, blindly throwing his fists at him, the drug dealer only catching them with his gloved hands and then tripping his customer with his feet till he fell to the cold, hard concrete. “...I need the money first.” Asciticus said calmly, looking down at his long-time customer who he didn’t know the name of, not that he needed to know it. In this business, names simply weren’t important. All that was important was your inventory.
“I’ll... I’ll give it to you, just... just give me it first.” Asciticus’ nameless customer crawled to his leg, now realizing that he simply could not defeat Asciticus by brute force. His hands shook from the cold, barely managing to cling onto the bottom of Asciticus’ pants in some pathetic attempt at begging and pleading.
He was disgusted, absolutely disgusted. He wanted to kick the man off right now but he knew if he did that that just wouldn’t be good for business, not that tripping him was either. “Fine, you better hand the money over, though. If you don’t, I’ll fucking kill you.” Despite his language, it almost sounded like Asciticus was actually feeling sympathy for the man... somewhat.
The desperate customer hastily nodded, looking up at Asciticus like a god, a drug dealing god, but this look wouldn’t last long, it was just to get the stuff he wanted, and the drug dealing god knew this. Asciticus put his hand into his pocket and pulled out a sealed plastic bag of acid tabs, the little squares perforated in six by six rows and columns. Before giving it to his customer, he slammed his foot onto his back, to make sure he wouldn’t just grab it and run. The man gave out a small cough, but then a gasp of excitement once Asciticus dropped the plastic bag in front of his face. The man’s hands quickly grabbed for it, and hungrily opening the bag like a starving man opening a bag of food.
Asciticus watched in absolute distaste, but when the man informed him of where his wallet was in haste, Asciticus reached into his back pocket and took out the money that was due, which was all that was left inside. Stuffing the money into his own back pocket, he dropped the wallet onto the floor and stepped off of the man who had already placed a tab onto his tongue, having messily torn it apart from the paper. Asciticus made no comment upon this appalling scene and only made his way to leave the alleyway before his customer had decided to pull some other nasty stunt.
He walked into a delicatessen, a few blocks away from his usual drug dealing spot (not that he should ever have a “usual”), and bought two lighters and a new fresh box of cigarettes with the money he had just received, still a lot left for both rent and whatever else he wanted. The owner knew Asciticus only as a frequent customer, and he also knew there was something off about him, but never ever really said more than a handful of words to him. Asciticus exited the delicatessen with a mumbled, half-hearted “Thank you,” and although it was late, decided to check on how his mother was doing, in slight regret for leaving her in such distraught like that.
It was a quick ride on the subway, ending up on one of the older trains. It would’ve been longer walking; he almost wanted to smack himself for swiping that card without realizing it was another two dollars and twenty-five cents out of his wallet for a ride that lasted only three stops.
Returning to the apartment building he was raised in until he moved away at the age of twenty-one, he ventured up the familiar, dingy stairwells, passing by a wall where he had written his name with his brothers a long time ago. He wouldn’t even so much as give a sparing glance to it now.
He stopped in front of the door, never seeming to get over the chipping paint and loose door knob.
Loose door knob?
Asciticus was sure the door knob wasn’t loose, it was tight and screwed in and had been that way for a while, and if it needed to be fixed, he would’ve done it himself as soon as he had encountered the problem, and he wouldn’t miss it, either.
A large hand with long slender fingers grasped the door knob and to his surprise, the door was unlocked. The moment he had opened the door without having to remove his keys out of his pocket, an unsettling feeling fell upon him, and he hated it. He peered inside, and the sound of his mother’s indecorous crying was still being heard, but this time, it sounded like she hadn’t been continuing to cry since morning, rather, starting to cry again.
“Fucking hell...” Asciticus muttered in absolute dismay, whatever little pride he had for this place was completely obliterated at first sight. He closed the door behind him as his head turned, looking around at the emptiness around him. There was nothing.
The old cabinet that had barely anything but a few dishes and toys was gone, and in its place was an empty space, a rectangular space lighter than the rest of the floor, and the clutter and mess of the scarce amount of things they had was gone. The couch that also worked as the bed of his little brothers was gone; the floor that was the bed of his mother was bare. The light bulbs that had no lampshades had been removed from their place and smashed onto the floor; the white shards still a mess beside where the side table should be.
He made his way to the room where he could see his mother crying, because not even the damn curtains that were supposed to be a ridiculous substitution for a door were there. Hearing someone approach, Asciticus’ mother immediately raised her head as if she was startled and afraid. “...A-Asciticus...” she said in that delicate tone of hers again.
He stopped a few feet away from her, looking down at her on her knees, shaking and crying, seeming like this was the only state he’d see her in for the entire day. “What happened he--...”
Crawling, she was crawling, just like his customer from before. She crawled to his feet in a frantic behavior, crawling on her knees and falling to the side on her arm because she could barely even keep stable enough to scrabble towards him. Her shaking hands attempted to grab and hold onto the fabric of his pants, in a way that was almost as unbecoming as his customer from earlier in the night. She could not even keep herself upright, Asciticus’ mother simply let herself lay on the floor, holding onto her son and sobbing.
“They t-took everything... A-Asciticus... hic ... w-why... every... everything... hic ...” her trembling arms tried to hold onto Asciticus’ leg, and he noticed her bloody nails, caused by her bad habit of biting them when she was in stress.
This pitiful scene of his mother hugging his leg was just low, so low. It was a different story when he was younger and would cling to her leg when he was crying, but this... this was just different, this was just disgustingly shameless.
“Tell me who ‘they’ are.” He said to her in a soft tone, hoping to calm her sobbing. Asciticus knelt down to her, keeping up his leg and folding his knees to his chest.
“...Th-they... the... the people...!” she clung to his leg tighter at the mention of “the people”, “The people th-that... that... they’re... they are... f-from the... the... c-company.”
“...The... the company?! The one that fired you?!”
Asciticus’ loud and furious voice startled his mother, and she whimpered in fear at the raised tone, her legs moving closer to her as if she was about put herself into a fetal position. She could only nod in response to him, and with that silent answer, Asciticus felt more irritated than he had ever felt in his life.
“What about Matt and David? What happened to them?” he asked her, in a somewhat quieter tone.
“G-grandma... grandma’s... h-house.”
Knowing that his little brothers were safe was a bit of a relief, one of them was fifteen, and the other one was only twelve, they still had a lot to live for. “And you...”—his mother continued crying—“...are you safe?”
She nodded again, her crying calming down a little, Asciticus’ concerned question to her put her off from the stress a little. “... Do you know why they did this?” he patted her head, stroking her dark brown hair, the gesture always put him at ease, he hoped it would work for her too.
She shook her head, feeling useless.
He sighed, even though he wanted to just punch something over and over until it broke in half, and then punch it again until it had broken to even smaller pieces, he tried to act calm, for his mother’s sake, even though she really wasn’t. “...Mom,” he began, and she listened. “I’m going to do something about this.”
“You... you can’t tell the police!” she shouted, looking up at him with her grip tightening around his leg. “They said... they said they’ll k-kill us!”
“...They threatened your life?” there was no limit to this company’s lack of morals, now was there.
“Please, just... just leave things as they are, Asciticus... i-it’s okay...”
What, was she mad? It obviously wasn’t. “It’s not...”
“It is! If you... if you do something... what if they hurt you? I can’t have that, not that... anything... just not that... I don’t mind them... taking everything here from us... just... they can’t... they can’t take away my children...”
Was that all that mattered to her? Her children? Asciticus respected her for that, but also a part of him hated her for it. He wished that sometimes she’d stop giving up her meals to him and his brothers because they wanted seconds, he wished that sometimes she’d stop spoiling them even though she had barely anything to spoil them with. And he also wished that sometimes, he’d get back at the people who tried to hurt her, and even if it meant it was to be at their expense, if they wanted it done, she should let them go, and God, did Asciticus want something done.
He stood up, trying to pry his leg away from the woman, deciding to ignore her and take things into his own hands now because it was obvious his mother was trying to keep his hands out. As soon as he was about to take his first step towards what was now a curtain-less door, his mother screamed and she held onto his leg as best as she could. “No, not again, Asciticus... you can’t go... not now... please, please stay, I can’t... please... for me...”
Every time she said to do something “for her” he would always do it because it was “for her”, but this time, it was for them, so he couldn’t let this go. “...Asciticus...?” his silence and lack of movement confused her, she wanted to know his answer, and she hoped that it would be that he sits back down to comfort her.
“What...” his mother breathed, and before she could register what he had said he had already began to pry his leg away and make his way towards the threshold of the empty room.
“No, no, no no no, Asciticus, no...! No, please, no...” she could not stand, there were no stable legs for her to do so. She crawled again, crawling on all fours, crawling towards him and clawing at his legs trying to grab at them again but her son only quickened his pace.
Asciticus opened the door, turning its loose doorknob and turning the lock inside to the left to make sure the door would be locked this time, and as he pulled the door and was about to exit, his mother, still on the floor, caught the door with her hands and tried to use her body as a door stopper.
“......” he looked down at her in awe, was she really this desperate? God, this scene, it really was just nothing but shame on her.
“Please Asciticus...!” he was about to pull the door to a close, and he attempted to, but his mother did not move.
“I’m not... I’m not going to let this pass again.” He said to her, with his hand still on the door knob. “If I do something... it’ll be good for all four of us.”
“They’ll hurt you, Asciticus...” she tried to tell him, but he didn’t listen.
“Dad’s not here anymore. There’s nobody to defend us, so they think they can harass us all they want.”
“So I’m going to do it.”
“Asciticus, please...! Stop... st... op...” she begged, slamming her hands on the floor and as she was starting to break into tears again.
But Asciticus was about to turn his cold shoulder to her again, and leave her in the mess that she was. “I’m not going to be reckless,” he assured his mother, “But I promise you... I’m going to make everything better.”
And with that... he walked away from his mother who, although wanted to keep on persuading him to stop, only hung her head down the same way she did when the robbers had come and tied her to a chair, which they eventually took too.
He did not hear her call his name again; he was too far down the stairs.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: So yes, I know it's been two chapters in and Asciticus still hasn't technically came in contact with the company's pride and joy, but he will... in the next chapter. But if you expected a quick confession right off the bat between those two, it's not gonna happen. It's gonna take a while, a while of character DEVELOPMENT HAHA.
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