The Pharmacy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Desmond, a young and confused boy; drifting in life and doesn't know where he's going. He feels alone. Then an event occurs and things begin to change in his life.

Submitted: April 16, 2013

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Submitted: April 16, 2013






I awoke to the sound of blaring sirens, thinking about what on earth the neighbors could have done this time. Just a couple of days ago, the house across the street were arrested because of domestic abuse. You get used to it after a while, especially around where I live. That's why the sounds didn't startle me as much. It wasn't until I heard running throughout the halls that I began to get suspicious.  I heard a crash and immediately got right out of bed, heading straight towards my door. I peered around the corner and saw 3 cops subduing my brother. He was under arrest. I wasn't too surprised seeing my brother in trouble with the law, but this is the first time cops have come into our home and have arrested him.

My brother's been a troublemaker ever since he was a kid. Growing up through school he was always involved with wrong kinds of groups. He began hanging out with the Chapman's, one of the most infamous gangs in town. In his senior year he dropped out of high school and began his gang initiation. Up into this moment in my life, I had some sort of idea of who my brother was and where he would end up. As soon as he completed his initiation, it was almost as if he became a completely different person. He was never the nicest guy around but he always cared about and was involved with, his family. When he joined the gang he became more detached and distant towards mum and I, until she was diagnosed with severe angina.  Brother began providing for us with the money that he earned through the gang. I was somewhat thankful for his contribution to us, but at the same time I was in dismay that we were living off of gang money. Every time I'd confront my brother about it he would always say the same thing: "Sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do."

Mum took my brother's arrest the hardest, which both my brother and I knew was bound to happen. My brother was never the type to think that he was invincible; always knowing the cops would get to him someday. He was thoroughly grounded in reality, a trait I both admired about my brother and disliked about him. Mum never really seemed to acknowledge what my brother was doing. She wasn't oblivious to it but I don't think she ever accepted his involvement with crime. She was what you'd call blissfully ignorant; if she came to understand the entire picture she would feel guilty in putting him in such a position.

It wasn't long after the arrest that we began to run into trouble with income. My mum was incapable of working and I had never had a job before except the odd work around the neighborhood. We were running out of money, food, and medicine.  I'd been searching for a real job for a while but couldn't find one. Times were tough, they always were, and now we didn't have my brother's help or my mother's good health to get us through it. It was up to me to help the family and I was failing. I began getting desperate and the world wasn't cutting me any slack.

One day I was cleaning up my brother's room, when I stumbled upon his old ski mask. It was the mask he'd always take out with him late at night. I could just imagine what he'd done with this mask over his head. Maybe he pretended he was a different person when he put it on, forgot where he came from and who he was. He allowed himself to get overwhelmed by the excitement of it all, and the rush that comes with being someone in his position. I began to wonder what it would be like for me, if I were to wear it. So, I did it. I put the mask on. I instantly felt as if I were the kind of man my brother was; a man with polluted morals that could do anything. I decided to take it off and put it back into the closet.

Later on that night, my Mother had an episode of weak cardiac arrest. It really freaked me out, knowing that right then and there my Mother could have left my life in a matter of minutes. It made me realize that what I had was actually quite fragile and worth protecting. I went into the cabinet to grab some more of her adrenaline pills but found that she had only a few pills left. So I went out to the pharmacy. As soon as I got there, they were just about to close. I quickly ran in with my Mother's pill canister and asked, "Excuse me, would I be able to get a refill sir?" He paused what he was doing and looked up towards me, squinting at the label on the container I had put on the counter. "I believe your subscription has worn out young man. You're going to have to come back with some ID and pay some money for a new one." "How much?" I asked. "Well, if you've got enough medical coverage left, then it'll only be about $50.00..." I thought for a moment. My Mother's medical coverage expired about a year ago, a little while after she had to quit her job. "How much would it be if we don't have any medical coverage?" "Oh boy. Then you'd have to pay around $200.00 for them."

He continued to ramble on about different jobs I could get with medical coverage and the schools I could go to that would help me get there. I couldn't really listen because my mind was racing. $200.00 for a set of pills that would only last for about a month. How on earth was I supposed to pay for my Mother's medication? I knew I had to do something. "Thank you." I said, interrupting the shopkeeper in mid-sentence. He stopped and gave me an odd look. The shopkeeper then went back to what he was previously doing after a sudden moment of confusion. I began to walk around the store and look around at the cameras. I decided to scope out the place. I grabbed a chocolate bar and went up to the counter. "That would be 56¢ sir. Thank you very much." He handed me change and gave me another funky look. "You take care now young man. Good luck with finding more pills!" I went out the door without a response and headed straight home.

There's absolutely no way I'll be able to pay for those pills, I thought. Even if I do obtain some sort of job, the money I'd get won't be close to enough. On top of Mother's medication I've also got worry about making enough for food. The odd jobs that I've been doing around town have barely been cutting it. I can only afford about one meal a day, two if I'm lucky. I sat on the patio, depressed while pensively thinking for hours. Then, it hit me. My brother's words echoed right through my head: "Sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do." It was almost as if I totally understood my brother. Everything that he's done in the past, everything he may have done in the future; all for us. It was the perfect justification for the plan I was concocting.

The next day, I prepared. I've kept in touch with a few friends from my high school, after I had dropped out. Thinking back, I never would have thought I'd be reaching out to them. They were the type of guys who would get along with my brother quite well. I was able to get ahold of one of them after looking around for a few hours that morning. Traded a few of my bro's old things for a crappy 9MM pistol. Afterwards I went back home and got all of my stuff together. As soon as midnight struck, I left the house, putting on my brother's mask.

As soon as I got to the front of the pharmacy, I stopped for a moment. I could see that there was a light left on. As I began approaching it, my heart began to beat harder and harder. I took a hammer and smashed the weak doorknob right off the door, trekking on forward. I had remembered where the man had kept his adrenaline pills from my last visit the other day, and quickly snagged a bunch, creeping around inside the store. The pills weren't enough for me though. I decided to go for the cash register. In total, the robbery only took a few minutes but felt like hours on end. My mind raced with thoughts and questions; what would happen if I were caught? How would my mother think of me now? Will I ever have to do this again? Right when I slammed the register shut, I heard a voice yell out: "Stop right there, young man!" I bolted, heading straight for the big window out front, breaking it in my desperate escape.

My body had normalized but my mind kept racing. I thought I had understood my brother up until this point but now I felt I truly could relate and symphonize with what my brother was going through. The guilt associated from taking one man's livelihood that they earned themselves, in exchange for my own. I think the reason why he had distanced himself from mum and I when he began along this path, wasn't because he didn't care about us as much as the gang, but because he was ashamed of what he had done. I don't know how I can face my mum after this, I thought. It wasn't her fault that my brother and I had ended up this way. It was just the circumstances that brought us down this of path. I felt sorry for what I had done, feeling as if I had dishonored my mother. As soon as I reached my front door, I was gasping for large amounts of air. I stepped inside, locked the door, and then laid down on my bed all night, thinking about what I had done. I now know where this path leads and I don't want to follow my brother down it. If my life were to have a crossroads, I imagined it would be right at this point. If I want to make both my Mum and myself proud, I'm going to have to intervene on my choices, creating a change.

The next day I decided that I should try and make amends for what I had done, hoping that I could somehow right the wrongs I'd committed. The best solution I could muster was to work diligently for the man I had robbed. When I walked into the pharmacy I was stricken with guilt. I could hardly believe that I had actually gone ahead and stole from this very store no more than 24-hours ago. The owner met my weary face with a friendly glance, and asked, " What can I do for you?"

"I was wondering if it would be possible for me to get a job here." I asked.
"Well I wouldn't consider it impossible, where else have you worked?"
"Nowhere really I've been looking for work for weeks now and it seems like nobody is hiring" I said with a tremor in my voice.
"I tell you what, you pick up the broom over there and start cleaning around the entrance, I gotta call someone to replace the window that broke last night, and if you do a good job I'll see about hiring you as a cleaning boy."
"Thank you, I'll get started right away!" I exclaimed.
"What's your name by the way, boy?"
"It's Desmond."
"Alright! You can call me Mr. Smith. Just get started now and I'll come back to check up on you in a bit."

Ever since that day, Mr. Smith and I worked along side each other. It didn't necessarily feel like he was just my boss, it was something much more. I guess you could say he was like a father. I had never met my dad and I never really dwelled on it up until now. I used to think I didn’t need a father really, that I would grow up fine without one. But I realized what I 've been missing when I was with Mr. Smith. He was a good man and always treated me with respect. In my neighborhood to earn respect meant to be a thug and a degenerate, but here it meant being a good person. I liked that. Mr. Smith’s impact on me was subtle. After working with him for a while I had come to realize that I truly felt happy. It was almost as if I'd found my place on this earth, making an actual contribution to people. I was proud of who I was becoming and I'd like to hope that my brother would be proud for me as well.

"Desmond, I'm heading out to meet with someone. I'll be back in a few hours. Hold down the shop while I'm gone." Mr. Smith shouted.
"Alright! Will do." I yelled back.
It was hard to imagine that only a few months ago I was here all alone but under completely different context. When I entered the pharmacy for the first time I was lost and distraught, but now here I am working under the same roof doing what I can to help Mr. Smith, rather than stealing his hard earned money.

I was alone for maybe an hour after Mr. Smith had left when a man with a fierce expression walked right through the front door. He reached into his pants and pulled out a gun, pointing it right towards my face. "Empty out the register." He requested, "Do it, hurry." When I looked into the eyes of the robber, I didn't see a malicious man looking for some easy money, but a confused boy, not unlike myself. I felt like I had some sort of sympathy for the man. What must have driven this boy to do the things he was doing now? I couldn't help but see myself, my brother as the person standing right in front of me. I wanted to stop him, to make up for what I had done to Mr. Smith only a few months ago, but I wasn't able to. I wasn't able to get the gun from under the counter and point it back at the kid in front of me. And for that I was ashamed. The thief ran right out the door, and I just sat there as a deep depression began to consume me. I've failed Mr. Smith.

It wasn't long after the robbery that Mr. Smith had returned from his meeting. He looked terrified and I could see the concern in his eyes. He must have been furious with me, I thought. I did my best to explain to him what had happened. He didn't seem too concerned about what had transpired earlier, he was more interested in my own state of being, asking if I was okay.

"Why are you so concerned about me? Aren't you upset that you were robbed and that I did nothing to stop them?" I asked.
"What makes you think that I value money more than human life, Desmond? I'm just glad you're okay; you were smart not to retaliate. You did the right thing."
"How could you say that? I was a coward, and after all you've done for me and I betrayed your trust."
"Now Desmond, you didn't betray my trust one bit. I'd say that I trust you a lot more now than I did before this incident." Smith said, justly.  
"At least he didn't break the front window, like you did yourself." The room grew quiet. It took me about a minute to realize what he had just said. He knew? He knew that I was the boy who stole his money a while back? I grew flustered.

"I've known it was you who broke in from the moment it had happened. Just the day before, you came by looking at the adrenaline pills, the only item, aside from money, that was stolen. It was fairly obvious." Mr. Smith said. I was shocked.
"Well, then why did you do all this? Why didn't you stop me? Why even bother hiring me?" I asked, as millions of thoughts were racing throughout my head.
 "I didn't stop you because I knew that you were just a confused kid, one who was in need. When you walked into the store the next day, I was shocked, but I could see in your face that you felt guilty for what you had done and that this was your attempt at reparation for what you had done."
"I don't understand, was I not your enemy? Why didn't you just call the cops?" Mr. Smith paused for a moment and let out a tiny grin, looking up towards the sun. 
"Because, Desmond. 'Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?'"

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