OIL IN WATER
Change was a magical thing. Avery and Kori sat at the kitchen table, folding the notices announcing the public meeting. Avery hoped that between the two of them they could account for the dynamo that was once Ruth Tirabi. He knew it was a long shot, but time would be the judge.
Kori folded a single flyer and stuffed a single envelope. Avery’s system was to fold ten letters and stuff ten envelopes, faster at a rate of two to Kori’s one.
“So, except for some of the stuff that wasn’t blended, I got rid of the rest of it,” Avery said. “Maybe we should invest the money. We could double our profits.”
“Or lose it all. That money provides the cushion we need until my business is more routinely in the black.” She folded neatly with an artist’s eye for perfection which also accounted for her lack of speed. “Let’s not mess with a good thing, huh?”
Avery nodded and stuffed an envelope.
“I’m going to miss the extra money though. It was nice not having to count laundry change,” Kori said.
“We don’t have to miss it. If we could get Gil interested, the TDU would be up and running. We’d never have to worry about money again. And Mr. Cooper said…”
Kori shot him a look of empathy. “I think for you it’s a little more about getting your name on a patent than it is about the money, isn’t it?”
A wry smile crossed Avery’s lips. Kori was right. Avery was desperate for a patent. His father had half a dozen by this age and Gil already had several.
“But the machine itself, Kori. Just imagine what it could do for the environment. It takes millions of years under extreme pressure to create the fossil fuels we now burn as oil. This machine cuts that creation time down to hours. Just think of the greenhouse gasses it eliminates. We could keep what’s left of the ozone layer intact. Not to mention the money we could make if we held the patent on it.”
Kori nodded, but he could tell she was no longer paying attention. Avery decided not to mention Mr. Cooper’s offer just now.
“Thanks for helping with this stuff,” he said, indicating the mounds of papers across the table. “Mom would’ve been happy.”
“You mean happy to see me finally take an interest in something other than my own trivial little dramas.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
Kori reached over and gave Avery’s hand a squeeze. “I know. It’s what I meant.”
Gil, Max and Jack burst into the kitchen. Gil shed his coat and sat next to Avery.
“First day changing the oil?” Kori asked Jack. “Geez, Gil could stay cleaner than that.”
“Shut up,” Jack said and kissed her full on the lips, smearing her mouth with oil.
Kori grimaced and headed to the sink to rinse her mouth. Gil made a paper airplane out of one of the flyers.
“Ooooohhh, you said shut up. We’re not allowed to say that in this house.”
“Yeah and who’s going to stop me?” Jack said.
“I will,” Gil said, his tone serious. He drew himself up tall in his seat, thrust out his chest and threw his airplane at Jack.
“You and what army, Gilliam?” Jack asked, reaching over to tousle Gil’s hair. “That’s a stupid rule anyway.” Jack walked to the fridge, pulled out a beer.
“Aaaahh, you said stupid.” Gil looked at Avery for assistance, but before Avery could say anything, Jack continued. “That makes you….” Gil thrust his chin forward as if tossing the word at him, but would not say it.
Jack sat down, twisted the top off his beer and took a swig. “The only stupid things are those rules,” Jack said.
Gil looked wounded. He grabbed his coat and ran out the door, Max on his heels. Avery shot Jack a dirty look and went after Gil.
“What I do?” Jack asked.
Kori, didn’t stop stuffing envelopes to look at him. “You called my mother stupid,” she said, a sad smile on her face.
“I didn’t say a thing about your mother,” Jack said.
“Those were her rules,” Kori said, looking up. “Now who’s stupid?”
Avery caught up to Gil just as he slammed the barn door and threw the dead bolt, activating the alarm. Avery knocked.
“Gil. Let me in, man.” Avery knocked a bit harder. “Gil!”
“Why are you taking it out on me? I didn’t say anything.”
“Gil, you ran out before I had a chance to.” Gil came around to the window of the barn, peeked out at his brother, then retreated to the inner recesses of the barn. “C’mon, Gil. You love Jack. He just said a silly thing.”
“Robbie would have flattened him.” Avery tried not to laugh. Ever since Robbie left, Avery noticed he’d been growing taller every day in Gil’s eyes. Avery pondered his most beneficial course of action before responding.
“Yeah, well, Robbie was older than I was and knew a lot more than I did.” He paused for emphasis, laying his ear against the door to better hear what was going on inside. “Sorry.” Avery could practically here Gil smiling on the other side of the door, his vindication pouring out through the crack under the door. “You gonna let me in now?”
Avery heard Gil’s soft footsteps approach and then a soft thud. He waited for the sound of Gil messing with the dead bolt, but heard nothing else.
“Gil. I said I was sorry, now open the door.” Avery heard Max’s low wail and ran over to the window. A table blocked Avery’s direct view so he stood on one of the remaining drums: he saw Gil lying on the floor, writhing, the beginnings of an epileptic fit.
“Oh, Jesus,” Avery said. The area around Gil was relatively uncluttered, but his twisting and turning took him in close proximity to table legs and the myriad tools and appliances on top of them, any one of which could end up on his head.
“Damn!” Avery bolted to the door and using his shoulder as a battering ram, ran at it full throttle. He winced. The door was sturdy and dead-bolted from the inside. It didn’t budge. Avery looked around wildly, his hands settling on a log from the nearby woodpile. He smashed the window in, immediately setting off the alarm inside the barn, the house, and, he knew, the police station. A shockwave of sound ran through his body and Avery clapped his hands to his ears. The whole world can probably hear this right now.
Avery pulled his shirt sleeve up and balled the end into his hand. He poked and smashed at the remaining bits of glass still clinging to the panes and cleared an area large enough to crawl through. He dove through feet first, sending a measuring tape, calipers, and a screw driver, clattering to the floor. The last thing he saw as he dropped into the barn was Kori and Jack running out the back door toward him.
He fell to the ground, taking a beaker with him. Shards of broken glass flew everywhere. He swept what was too close to Gil aside with his feet, but that was too slow, so he used his hands, embedding a shard in the flesh at the side. He gritted his teeth and removed a substantial piece of glass before dropping to his knees next to his brother. Blood oozed from his palm.
He mounted Gil and, in moments, had him pinned by both shoulders, his injured hand spraying blood across the collar of Gil’s shirt. Gil moaned and Max licked his face. Gil seemed to sense Max’s presence because he relaxed slightly and lifted his face toward him. Avery loosened his grip, but did not get up. Kori and Jack appeared at the window and when Kori saw the blood, she screamed, a higher-pitched wail than the alarm. Avery’s hair stood up on the back of his neck.
“He’s bleeding!” Kori screamed.
Avery shuddered. “Stop! Stop screaming! It’s my blood!” He yelled over his shoulder. “Somebody’s got to get in here and shut that Goddamn alarm off.”
Jack jumped through the window with the grace of a panther and moments later the alarm went silent. Gil seemed to relax and Avery moved off and sat next to him without letting go of his shoulders. Jack unbolted the door and Kori ran in, dropping to the floor next to Gil.
“Call the police,” Avery said to Kori. “Tell them it was a false alarm.” She rose reluctantly and ran into the kitchen.
“We gotta get a phone out here, man,” Jack said to Avery. Avery nodded, watching his brother. Gil fell into a deep sleep and began to snore.
“This is probably a good time to move him,” Avery said. “Let’s get him inside where it’s warm.”
They carried him in, Jack at his feet and Avery at his head with Max leading the way.
to be continued. . .
to read what brought us to this point see here