Two years ago, maybe, he would have cared more about the current drug deal going on behind the counter after work hours, but now… he just stood silently in the back of the store and threw glances at the pair over at the counter. A short boy with fading lime green hair in a blue flowery jacket was accepting a bundled money stack from the red haired, considerably taller, cashier after having given him a bag of something that looked like bottles of tic tacs. Nicholas knew better, they should have used a non seethrough bag, he was used to these kinds of things happening around town. He was just a little perplexed at it going on in his own workplace. Sure, the gas station was a little off from the rest of town and yes, it wasn’t that he couldnt believe any of his coworkers wouldn’t be involved with anything like that. And considering it was Senai currently working at the counter, and considering what Nicholas knew or had heard about him and his “condition”, this was surely not a surprise. But he had never had it thrown in his face like this. It was so obvious he wondered why they hadn’t been caught before. Because surely they looked like they were used to it, both of them. Acquaints meeting again, going through patterns, nodding and not being hesitant as money and drugs were being traded. Senai even smiled quickly at the flower jacket, the other looked as if he had told a bad joke. He then asked for a package of cigarettes and payed with money from the bundle given to him seconds ago. He lit a cigarette right there and then and leaned on the counter and started talking as if he was returning to a left off conversation between the two of them. Nicholas still didn’t move. Senai’s eyes flickered quickly to scan the store, checking for the manager probably, since he was already fully aware of the fact that they had an audience. He then answered to something flower jacket had said. Flower jacket seemed satisfied with the answer because he nodded and stood up from the counter. He waved lazily when Senai said good bye and shuffled out from the store to the parking lot in front of the gas machines. Nicholas stretched his neck to see him disappear in the evening dark. The store laid quiet for a few minutes. “Hey” Senai said and slammed his hand on the counter. Nicholas jumped and dropped the bag of chips he was holding half off the shelf. “Don’t forget the soda! I want orange flavored okay!”Senai scolded in a loud voice. Nicholas sighed and leaned down to pick up the chips.
“Chill…” he mumbled.
“No! I work fifteen more hours than you: I need that Extra to survive dude!” Nicholas wasn’t sure if he was talking about calories or drugs but he guessed both of them were equally correct.
“Okay, I’m on my way”
Senai pulled out a chair to the front of the counter. Nicholas sat down and placed the 100ml bottle of orange soda in front of Senai. The other smiled sheepishly and proceeded to uncap it. Nicholas scoffed and opened the bag of chips.
The last string of grey sun had disappeared behind the tall trees surrounding the road. The day had pretty much been like any other Monday before. There had been few customers and they had all been coming in some time after lunch. There had been three people working shifts. Nicholas came in early in the morning to have lunch free and the evening shift with Senai. Cara, a girl who seemed to still be in high school was unlucky to take care of the lunch shift all by herself since Senai only came in after two. But on the other hand she had arrived at noon and left three hours later. Probably off to enjoy her summer unlike the two boys who were stuck in the store till closing time.
Senai leaned his chin on the top of the soda bottle and gazed out the window. Nicholas’s eyes were stuck on what little he could see of the plastic bag Senai had
hid behind the counter.
“Where do you get the money from?”, he asked, pretty suddenly and he saw how Senai needed a little more than a moment to get what he was talking about. When he did, he just smiled and shrugged.
“Why do you think I’m working all possible unsocial hours available?”, he said.
Nicholas still didn’t think a little extra money from a badly run gas station would suffice for ten grands worth of drugs every other freaking week. He shook his head.
“Sure, if you don’t want to say, what ever” he said with a sigh. But he did care, and he felt like the arch of Senai’s brows had proven his suspicion correct: There was another way. And: Senai didn’t like it when Nicholas acted uninterested. So far he had been the only one to ever ask Senai how he was doing and actually been waiting for an honest answer. Nicholas knew what part in Senai’s life he played, he knew that Senai probably would miss him if he left for real and so… he tried his best not to push the younger away. Nicholas used this to his advantage to get to know more about the older boy because he, as he had expressed the first time he caught Senai meeting up with flower jacket, does not like secrets. And Senai was bending to his will. He bit his lip and pressed his fingers to the side of the bottle. His eyes disappears behind heavyly curled bangs. Nicholas waited patiently.
“I get money from other works too you know…” he said slowly. Nicholas sat quiet. Senai gazed up at him.
“It’s nothing weird I just, I jump back and forth a little” he shrugged again, this time it looked as if he gave up.
“I mean, I’ve never kept a job as long as I’ve kept this” he shifted on his chair.
“But since I’m not always here I… I have to be somewhere else, you know…”
“I don’t” Nicholas said.
“But I guess I can imagine”
And they were quiet again. Nicholas felt like he hadn’t really gotten a proper answer to his question, but it was a start.