MiamiFicTalk prompt #15 - Flashback.
With love xx
January 21st, 1977.
It was a pleasant Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn, NY. Cheers and calls of encouragement (and trash talk) could be heard from the basketball courts; a cooling breeze whipped through the alleys adjoining the houses on the block and the steady beats of various music genres blended together to fully represent New York.
Most teenagers were out on the streets with friends, lovers or rivals. The Caine teenagers stayed close, this being the only day Horatio and Raymond could be with their mother. Laurence, a man who didn't deserve the title 'Dad', worked his second job on the Saturday, leaving his wife home with the boys to cater and prepare for his return. It wasn't the best environment for maternal bonding, but the boys took all they could get.
Samantha Caine, her deep red hair braided down her back, grated the parmesan for the chicken. Saturday's were most definitely the highlight to her week. They were the highlight to her life. Her boys were growing into strong young men, not one with the same attitude and outlook to that of their father. It broke her heart every second of every day that she was bringing them up in that environment, -an abusive and vile man as the breadwinner- but she saw no way out. No option.
Sunday to Friday, she survived. Saturday, she lived.
She looked over with a warm smile at her eldest son. He had inherited her shade of hair, her eyes and her demeanour. Also, her cooking talents. She watched as he tasted the tomato sauce for the pasta he was preparing. He stood still for a second, savouring the taste, before adding more seasoning. Samantha ran a hand down his head and squeezed his neck affectionately, "You're going to make a great husband one day."
The unspoken words of 'better than Laurence' hung in the air.
Horatio smiled and kissed her cheek. He walked to the back door calling to his little brother, asking how many baskets he'd managed. Raymond was shooting hoops against the back wall of the house, determined to reach at least 25 in the hour.
He gave him some words of encouragement, and told him to stick at it.
Horatio wasn't back in the kitchen a minute when the front door slammed shut. Samantha jumped at the noise, her eyes widening to the size of saucers, her whole demeanour changed in that instant. She was nervous, her hands shaking, her eyes dripping with fear. Laurence was home.
"Go. Now." She ordered.
"No. I'm staying." Horatio insisted, his back straightening, his voice disguising the fear and disgust he felt.
"Baby, please, I'll be fine," she whispered, ushering him to the door. She swept a hand over her hair, making sure it was presentable.
"Horatio." She slid the back door shut behind him. He spun to her, guarded behind the glass, his eyes begging to let him protect her. That he wasn't afraid of that 'man'. That she didn't have to be scared. "I love you too," she said, her voice muted through the barrier.
She disappeared into the kitchen, Horatio left staring at his own reflection. He clenched and released his fists. If he couldn't protect his mother from the excuse of a husband she had, he could protect his brother from the excuse of a father.
Raymond wasn't unaware of the situation, his own figure seeming to shrink in the fear. Horatio put his arm around his shoulders and guided him to the front yard, ducking under the side windows and checking the way was safe before leading his brother.
"You okay, little brother?" Horatio asked as they walked up the street, letting the situation at home settle for a few hours before they would return.
"Yeah. Is Dad mad again?" Raymond asked. He hadn't inherited Samantha's hair colour, instead, Laurence's.
"He'll be fine. Rough day at work again. C'mon-" He was cut off by the sound of a gunshot behind him. Both boys ducked instinctively, as well as the other youths on the street. Another shot.
"Ray, run to Mrs. Joyce's." Horatio ordered looking back to the house, his voice authoritative and not at all petrified as his body was.
"No way, I'm-"
Ray did as he was told and ran off down the street. "Tell her to call 911!" Horatio shouted back, as he himself began to run, but in the other direction.
He swooped down to pick a broken wooden plinth from the floor, wielding it as a weapon as he silently and carefully swung open the metal wire fence. He crept through the house, all of his senses on high alert for either parent.
The sound of his heart beating ferociously in his chest and ears; the taste of bile rising to his throat as premonitions set in; the sharp splintered wood gripped numbingly in his hand; the smell of soot and copper in the air; the sight of Laurence jumping over the back fence, seen through the window with an angered grunt.
Horatio threw the wood to the ground as he now ran to the kitchen.
He was in shock for a second, seeing his mother lay on the floor, blood spluttering from her mouth as she gasped for air, a pool quickly chasing across the tiles. He dropped to his knees at her side, cradling her head. "Mom? Stay with me, Mom."
Samantha wriggled in his grasp, more blood spurting from her mouth as she tried to breathe, to talk.
"Everything's going to be okay, Mom." He looked deep in her eyes, making sure she saw the defiance and determination shining through.
Silence. Stillness. Only the blood pool at her side moved as it grew, colouring the grey tiles in deep red.
"Mom? Mom?" He put his head to her chest, hoping with every fibre of his being to hear a heartbeat. Nothing. He looked at her again, her blood coating his cheek.
January 21st, 2007.
Horatio sprinkled salt and basil into the tomato sauce simmering nicely across the flame. A mound of parmesan sat on the counter, ready for the chicken. No books lay open to this recipe, this one he knew from heart.
He took the glass of wine from the side and raised it in the air in a silent salute, "Mom."