“Where’s Bruno?” Momma was back and taking charge. “Freyja, go tell your brother dinner is ready.” She took over cutting the lasagna.
Bruno lived in the basement suite, self-contained and only accessible from outside. Freyja opened the back door and Georgie followed her out.
“Free.” Her sister pushed her black curls from her flushed face. “He’s back using.”
Freyja felt sick. “But I thought he was working for Tony, doing good?”
“Tony had to let him go. He never showed up and when he did…” She tapped the side of her nose and rolled her eyes.
“I’ll kill him.” She imagined smashing the little bastard’s face with a blunt object. She felt better.
“Kill him later. Just try to get him in some kind of shape for dinner.”
“Merda! The garlic.”
“BB.” Freyja pounded on the basement door. She heard what sounded like a chair fall over and the shuffling of feet. “It’s Free. Open the fucking door.” She pounded again.
The door swung open. Her baby brother stood there, eyelids drooping, nose running, a supercilious smile on his pouting lips. “Hey, sis.”
Freyja’s roundhouse smacked against his left cheek.
BB staggered back into the suite. “What’d you do that for?”
He looked better – more focused, certainly more color in his cheeks. One cheek, anyway. Freyja thought about hitting him again, but there wasn’t time. She grabbed him by the hair, and pulled him toward the bathroom.
“Owww. Free. Stop. Please.”
“Shut the fuck up.”
She kicked open the bathroom door. A comatose young woman sat slumped on the toilet, jeans around her ankles. Vomit covered the front of her T-shirt, a needle on floor by her feet. For an instant Freyja regretted not bringing her camera. She imagined the shot, a high contrast, stark, black and white. It would make a powerful picture.
“Gina’s got the flu,” BB said.
Freyja pulled the door closed and pushed BB toward the sink in the corner that served as the kitchen. “You don’t have time for a shower so wash your face, rinse your mouth, and comb your hair. I’ll see if I can find you something to wear.”
Freyja flicked on the overhead light in the bedroom. The floor was covered with soiled clothes, beer cans and half empty food containers. The room had a rank smell of sweat and urine. She cautiously moved to the closet. Three crisp shirts and the same number of creased slacks hung side by side. Momma was still doing her baby’s laundry. She grabbed some clothes and went back to the kitchen
BB stood in the middle of the room drying his face with a stained dishtowel. He wore a T-shirt and baggy sweats. Both accentuated his emaciated appearance. “I don’t have a comb.”
Freyja spit on her palm and smoothed the cowlick.
“Just like Momma use to.” BB started to cry. “I’m sorry, Free.”
She gave him a hug. He felt bony and smelled sour. “Quit your fucking blubbering and get dressed. Where are your shoes?”
“I don’t know.” BB pulled on his slacks and tucked in his shirt. “I’ll wear these.”
He was wearing the pair of slippers Freyja had bought him for Christmas two years ago. She swallowed. “Whatever, let’s go. Momma’s waiting dinner.”
“What’s the occasion?”
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