Today’s Story a Day prompt was to concentrate on the pace of the story. I didn’t really do that. Instead I decided to play with something that happened off the page in Closing Time. The main characters are dealing with the fallout of this right now, even though neither of them were directly involved.
Cormac lit a candle, whispered words he’d known pretty much his whole life, then stepped back and sank into a pew. It didn’t help.
He didn’t only come to church for Sunday Mass. He usually stopped in at least once or twice a week, usually when his thoughts felt all jumbled up. Something about being here, going through the familiar motions of worship, settled him again. Usually. Not this time, though.
He wasn’t even sure what he wanted, needed, to pray for. Just that he somehow needed things to be right again.
“Praying for some lost souls?” an unfamiliar voice asked behind him.
“Only one,” Cormac said. He just wasn’t sure if it was his own or Gio’s.
The man came over to sit down beside him. Cormac didn’t recognize him, couldn’t remember ever seeing him in church before. Though there was something slightly familiar about him. He just couldn’t put a finger on what it was.
“You from around here?” Cormac asked. Something had his instincts pinging, but he pushed it away. He was tired, exhausted really. Having a newborn and a sick four-year-old as well as trying to keep up with his job and the other three kids didn’t leave a lot of time for rest.
“No,” the other man said, and there was a wrinkle to his nose Cormac didn’t appreciate. “I came to try to talk my brother into coming home. Twelve years is long enough to rip our family apart. Especially now that Dad’s dying. But, he still refuses to face up to what he’s done.”
Cormac wasn’t sure he wanted to know, but he was a cop through and through. “What did he do?”
“He turned his back on everything we were raised to believe, just so he could be with another man.”
Cormac relaxed a little at that. His brother wasn’t a criminal then. “My little brother isn’t straight, either. It’s been quite an adjustment for the family. We’ve known that for a while, then-”
“What?” the man asked. His sudden intense interest made Cormac wary, but he didn’t know this man anyway. None of it would get out or back to Gio. And he needed to talk to someone who didn’t know them. It had been eating away at him, but he’d kept silent, afraid the rest of the family would see him as hateful when he was only worried for his baby brother.
So, Cormac started telling him. About Gio telling them he’d never felt fully male, and the word he’d used: genderfluid. Cormac had never known that was really a thing. But, Gio always had wanted to use Caitie’s things, had always acted more girly than they’d thought was right. he just kept talking, spilling everything that had been on his mind.
“And now he’s getting involved with the asshole that nearly destroyed a friend of our family by divulging one of his secrets. I don’t know what he’s even thinking. I don’t care how good a bartender the guy is, he’s obviously got something wrong with him. I don’t want him hurting my brother.”
“Your brother’s lowering himself to screw a bartender?”
Cormac’s chest tightened. “Watch your language. That’s my brother you’re talking about. And there’s nothing wrong with tending bar. My family runs a good place. Two decent pubs, one up here and another, the one my brother manages, down in Crystal Glen. It’s not like they’re dives.”
Cormac suddenly didn’t like the light in the other man’s eyes. Before Cormac could decide whether or not to find out what was behind it, his phone vibrated at his hip. He glanced at the display and saw Luisa’s name. And the quick SOS message she’d sent. He let out a soft laugh. The older kids must be home from school now. He needed to get over there and lend a hand. usually she could handle anything, but the new baby was wearing her out.
“I’ve got to go,” he told the other man. “Hope things work out with your brother.”
“Yeah,” the man said, but Cormac didn’t think he sounded like he meant it. “Thanks.”
Cormac put the man out of his mind as he headed out to his car. All he thought about was getting back to his wife and kids and handling whatever needed to be done to make their lives good.