Tino - A Matter of Fifty Dollars Part II- Untamed Hearts Memories
Romeo started getting serious about after school jobs when Ma got sick. He wasn’t the type of teenager to bitch about working. He liked being the one with the cash in his pocket handing out the bills, but he also had that fifty bucks problem—big time.
I remember this one time, my mom was extra ill, when usually she hid it well. Our apartment was small, and she couldn’t hide the throwing up from her bathroom. There was no graceful way to handle that, especially with me sitting on her bed watching television.
“Come on, piccolo, grab your jacket.” Romeo walked into the bedroom while slipping his arm into his leather coat. “Let’s take a walk.”
Usually, I was right on with anything that got me out of the apartment, but it was early January. The multicolored streamers from Nova’s eleventh birthday still hung on the walls in the kitchen. I was already pissy about starting back to school, and the weather was January wet and cold. I looked out Ma’s window, seeing the sunset completely hidden behind the overcast gray.
“Do I have to?” I whined.
Ma started retching again.
Romeo snapped his fingers, growling, “Andiamo,” and then shoved his other arm into his jacket, making it clear there wasn’t a debate about it.
I slid off the bed and was inclined to go slow. Except the sun was setting, and the wind was blowing, and the darker it got, the colder it was going to get. I moved fast, but I wasn’t happy about it.
“My new shoes,” I grumbled as I worked on putting them on by the front door. “Streets are nasty.”
“You’ll be okay.” Romeo held out my jacket, clearly trying to hurry me up. “I’ll buy you something at the bodega.”
“You can’t buy him something this time.” Nova came from the kitchen, a can of ginger ale in his hand. “Cause--” He hesitated when Romeo glared back at him in annoyance. “Math.”
“We’re fine,” Romeo growled, still giving Nova one of those shut the hell up looks, like I wasn’t standing right there watching him do it. “I just got paid.”
“I added that, and I counted the extra money I get helping Mr. Mac,” Nova said quickly. “But Ma missed three days of work already. We don’t have enough for this month. The math says we don’t have enough.” Nova loved blaming math, like it was the numbers’ fault. “We can’t keep running the heater like this.”
“We’re not freezing through winter to save twenty bucks, especially when Ma’s sick,” Romeo said dismissively as he opened the front door. “We’ll borrow it if we have to.” He grabbed my shoulder, pushing me into the hallway. “Take her the ginger ale.”