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The proposition, p.6
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       The Proposition, p.6

           Jessica Schlafer
 
Nick drove me back at Paul’s. I said good morning to Paul, got a cup of coffee, and went to my room. It was another rainy day, so I needed to figure out what I was going to do today. Inspiration struck and I texted Nick to tell him I wanted him to take me to a movie.

  I didn’t hear from him, so I grabbed a quick shower. I walked back into the bedroom, wrapped in a towel, and found Nick lying on my bed.

  “Oh God, Abby, I’m sorry,” Nick jumped up and covered his eyes.

  I was pretty embarrassed because I was pretty sure he could hear me singing in the shower from my bed. “Nick, jeez, um…”

  “I got your text.”

  “Oh, um…” I was looking around for something to throw on.

  “I can’t do a movie,” Nick was blindly inching toward the door. “I have to do some runs to meet with some people. You wanna come with me to do that?”

  “Yeah, anything to get out while it rains. I’ll be like 15 minutes to get dressed and stuff.”

  Nick had finally found the door knob, while covering his eyes, and made his way out of the room. Once he was outside, I swore I could hear him slump against the door and sigh.

  Oh, well.

  I threw on some jeans, a tee shirt, and grabbed my sneakers and purse on my way out the door. I found Nick in the living room, looking highly agitated. He stood and I followed him out the door almost as soon as I walked into the room. I hopped on one foot, putting my shoes on, trying to hurry out the door behind him.

  “Christ, Nick, I don’t have my shoes on yet.”

  He stopped and sighed, “Come on then, we gotta go.”

 

  I put my shoes on sneakers on and again, Nick was on the move. We got into the car and Nick sped out of the driveway.

  “Nick, you know what? Just let me out. I don’t know what happened in the 15 minutes I was getting dressed, but you’re acting like an asshole.”

  Nick didn’t respond and didn’t stop.

  “Nick!” I yelled. “I said let me out.”

  “Abby, I’m sorry. Paul and I just had a disagreement and it’s not sitting well with me.”

  “What was it? Maybe I can talk to Paul?”

  “No, it was about you.”

  “Me?”

  “Yeah, in case you forgot, you’re supposed to go to Seattle with Merritt on Wednesday.”

  “Yeah?”

  “Well, Paul was going to go with you but now he doesn’t think he’ll be able to make it and I don’t think it’s safe.”

  “I won’t go if he’s not there.”

  “You’ve already promised to go. We really can’t have you back out now.”

  “Nick, I won’t feel safe if you’re not there or he’s not there.”

  “I know. I’ll figure something out. Even if I have to force myself onto the trip.”

  “I’ll just show up with you and say I thought you were going. Then I’ll say that I’d rather not go if you’re not going to be there. You think that’ll work?”

  “It might. I don’t know. I just have this feeling like something’s going on that I don’t know about.”

  I thought about that for a while and Nick drove. We made several stops at Paul's dry cleaner businesses, all outside of Portland. He would go in by himself and always come out with a bag. I assumed he was collecting money. We stopped at a small Greek restaurant to eat lunch.

  After we ordered, I finally had the guts to ask, “Nick, what are we doing today?”

  “I’m collecting rent,” he said. “The places we stopped at all pay rent to get the business we send to them.”

  “I see.”

  I knew it!

  “This is one of the safer parts of my job.”

  “What happens when someone is late?”

  “I make a phone call.”

  I didn’t ask what happened after that.

  We had an enjoyable lunch and got back into the car so Nick could finish his route. We finished in Portland.

  “You know, it’s early enough that we could go catch that movie,” I said.

  “I’m game. Just let me give Paul a quick call to tell him the drops went well.”

  Nick did just that, as he drove to a garage. He pulled the car all the way in, parked, put all the bags into one large bag, and took it inside. I didn't see him for about five minutes. When he came back, the bag was gone.

  We had a nice "date" at the movie and we decided to go for coffee and pie afterward. At the coffee shop, we were discussing the movie when the three men from the mall walked in. Instantly, I became defensive. I could tell they had been drinking.

  "Whassup, Nicky boy?!" Ben called from the door.

  I could see other customers look nervously at the men. Before I could say anything, Ben slid into the seat right next to me.

  "Mmmm, you're still as sexy as I remember," he said, running his hand up my arm.

  I jerked away.

  “Wassa problem, baby?” he put his hand on my thigh and I pushed him away.

  Nick stood up and pulled Ben out of the booth, pushing him on the floor. "Back off, man."

  Ben stood up quickly and looked like he was going to start a fight with Nick.

  “What the fuck is your problem, man?” Ben spat.

  “Tonight, you are,” Nick said, seething.

  "Nick, let's just go," I said, standing between the two men.

  "The night is young, my friends. You can't, seriously be thinking about going home already," Dmitry said.

  “Come on, Nick,” I said, trying to diffuse the tension by putting my hand on his chest. “Baby, we've been out all day and tomorrow I get to go pick up my new car and get ready to go to Seattle on Wednesday," I said.

  "That's too bad," Dmitry said, he had a thick Brooklyn accent. He was obviously trying to ease the mood. "What kind of car are you getting?"

 
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