He had to step away from Johnny's anger, even though he was gripping his wrists. Johnny let his arms go and they dropped loosely to Omar's sides. He'd told him not to touch him, so he wouldn't. Omar went to through to the front, to focus on the broken glass. Something told him it was going to be easier fixing the damage out here than the broken lad nursing his wounds. Would Johnny forgive him for this? He knew it wasn't really his fault, but Salim was family, and if he had kept his car away from Johnny's mates, they wouldn't have been more eager than usual to beat him to a pulp. Why couldn't everything be straight forward for once? Omar was only trying to make him feel better, roughly telling him how special he was, but Johnny's anger at Genghis knew no bounds and Omar couldn't help but get burnt by his rays of frustration. He just needed to give him some space. Johnny came out from the back, trying to ignore the tension between them. Kicking the glass and putting his hoodie in the empty washer, Omar tip-toed around him in more ways than one.
"Look..." Omar began, "take the day off"
Johnny was determined not to, but shook his head absent-mindedly. "Why? The place is already kicked to shit" He muttered, getting a coin out of his pocket and harshly slamming it on the side.
"So are you, go home, you're no use to me like this" Omar told him.
"Thanks" Said Johnny, knowing Omar wasn't trying to make him feel worse but it wasn't working. He needed to keep his mind off the fact that he'd nearly got his head kicked in by his mates, all because he'd got Salim's arse off the chopping block. He didn't even like Salim. The only reason he had Genghis by the throat was because if Omar had found out Johnny had stood by and watched his business "god" get smacked to smush he knew he never would have forgiven him. Johnny did what had to be done at the time, but part of him did want to leave Salim on the ground. Salim had hated him since day one, before he'd said a word. At first Johnny thought it was because of his past, but Omar told him that no-one had said anything to him about that, that's when Johnny realised he was just an arsehole. He was ready to work his arse off to get this place up and running, he would even work harder than Omar if he could, he just needed to prove it to him. Johnny began to get a broom and pushed it towards the glass to shove it all into one corner. Omar gripped the end on the broom with one fist.
"Johnny, go and get yourself checked out, relax for a couple of days if you have to"
"Two days off now?" Johnny asked. Omar took the broom away from him and leaned it against the wall. He tilted his head, knowing that his huge earnest brown eyes could get Johnny to do anything. Johnny silently acknowledged this and walked back to his flat. Omar wanted him at his best, but wondered how he was going to rake in business with a smashed window. Maybe he could patch it up with something. He called his Uncle up, asking for advice. He made up a story about kids and a football but his Uncle Nasser had already heard the news from Zaki, he called him to tell him about Salim. "He's doing better, you're meant to be bringing decent clientele to the laundrette boy, now why the hell were those kids outside the place acting like hooligans?" Nasser asked. "They were after Salim's car" Omar explained.
"That crowd that hang around like a bad fart? Johnny's gang?" Nasser guessed.
"They hurt him too Uncle, without Johnny, Salim would have..."
"Stop licking that boy's arse Omar, I'm sending some help over to get everything cleared up, the last thing we need are ugly rumours, you'll see them tomorrow OK?" Nasser told him. "OK" Omar replied, a little surprised that even after what had happened, it was still business as usual. Since he was getting help tomorrow, he thought he would clean up the best he could and close up. He freshened himself up before he went to check on Johnny. He never really followed his advice so he figured he was home, and he was right. He went upstairs to Johnny's room and knocked on the door to see him on his mattress with a wet flannel over his eye. "Thought I told you to go to hospital?" Omar asked. "Sorry Sir, visiting hours are over" Johnny joked as he leaned up . "Ha-ha" Said Omar. "Could get used to being called Sir all the time" Johnny shook his bloodied head. "By me? Not a chance" He began to lift the flannel off, seeing Omar wince as he objected. "Don't do that" He told him. "I need to see who I'm talking to don't I?" Johnny said, as his bad eye began to stretch open to get a better look at his boss. He had the same old frown that he had when he couldn't figure something out, the same professional neat suit that he always wore when he was secretly trying to impress. Johnny would rather take on all his old gang for round two than admit he never got tired of this image standing before him.
"Called Nasser" Omar told him. "Salim's OK"
"Oh, now I can sleep easy tonight" Johnny joked.
"Oi, that's my family you're slagging off" Omar shot back.
"He's slagged me off too. What am I?" Johnny asked, teasing Omar but testing him at the same time. "A guy who's gonna work round the clock when the windows fixed" Omar added. "Ya mean, if" Johnny said. "Oh yeah" Nasser's bringing help for me, you know, to patch up the window, so we can carry on as normal before he gets the professionals" Omar told him. "Cool, just don't hire the new talent" Johnny warned hoping the Omar wouldn't take it as seriously as he secretly wanted him to. "Why would I?" Omar answered, "You're a hell of alot cheaper" Omar went and sat on Johnny mattress while Johnny instantly became more relaxed when he felt the pressure of Omar's body next to him, but acted stand-offish. "I acted like an idiot today, saying all that stuff after the fight...I shouldn't have" Omar explained. Johnny put the flannel back over his eye. "Forget it" He told him softly. Omar turned away from him, seeing Johnny angry was nothing new, but that rage that he'd seen in his eyes, when he told him to stop touching him freaked him out. He wanted to make it up to Johnny, but felt that trying to reach him, daring to touch him, would be like rubbing his wrists against barbed wire. He patted Johnny on the arm the way a stranger pats a muzzled dog and got off the mattress.
"Eh" Johnny said. "What?" Omar asked.
"I help ya uncle out, and I get no pressie, no grapes, no get well soon card" Johnny said breathing deeply.
"I'll tell you what, when you get back, I'll get you a brand spanking new mop, how's that sound?"
"Piss off Omo" Johnny said as he leaned up to fix himself a drink. Omar didn't help him but made his excuses and quickly left. Johnny wasn't stupid, he knew something wasn't right, but started sipping beer to block it out. The next day Omar was up bright and early ready for his Uncle's handy "help" He was waiting for a few burly distant relatives that he'd never met to come barging through the door, but was surprised when a slim young woman knocked on the door. She had thin sheets of boarding wood strapped up against her and looked at him with a determined grin.
"Hi I'm Syrin, but you can call me Sy if you want, your Uncle sent me" Omar tried not to look too shocked but Syrin caught it.
"Don't look so shocked, I know what I'm doing" Omar nodded. "Of course, would you like anything to drink? Tea coffee?"
"How about Shandy or Vodka? Just playing with you, tea'll fine thanks" Omar went into the back room and called his uncle to see what he was playing at.
"You wanted help boy, you've damn well got it, don't be so ungrateful" Said Nasser shaking his head over the phone.
"You forgot to tell me the "help" was a girl uncle. Why is that?"
"Ahh sexism never gets old"
"Neither does sadism uncle, are you sure she'll do a good job?" Omar asked.
"She'll do anything you want her to Omar, now for heaven's sake treat her right" He ended the call, and his nephew had no option, but to get Syrin some tea and assist her with getting these panels up. To his surprise they did it quite quickly. Syrin was a DIY whizz and and quite a funny girl, so the time went by with ease. Her handiwork was almost as good as Johnny's...almost. The last screw was inserted and she went back and made them fresh tea, came back and made Omar drink it while sitting on the counter at the front. "I dunno why I'm giving you anything, I've done all the work!" Syrin said as she winked at him. "You're real cheeky you are" Omar told her. "Someone has to be, are you always this uptight?" She asked. "Only on work hours" He told her. "But you're not working now, so come on, let's dance" Syrin said as she got off the counter. Omar looked at her wondering if she'd been at Salim's stash while he was recuperating. Syrin got up laughing and started rocking to an imaginary beat. Half the laundrette was boarded up anyway and if someone saw them, it's not like they'd care. Omar got up and Syrin reached her hand out for him. He touched it and she clasped his against hers, they fit each other like a glove. Omar got closer to her than he really thought he should, but Syrin or rather "Sy" didn't mind, they began to enjoy it as Syrin rested her head on Omar's shoulder. He gripped her waist softly and they swayed romantically cradled up against one another like two teenagers at a boozed up prom. Omar paused to smile at her and then stepped back when he looked through the other window that hadn't been smashed-yet. "Shit" He whispered. "What?" Syrin said, as she began to miss his warmth already. She followed Omar's glance to some half-blond trampish looking guy glancing at them through the window. Omar went towards the window but Johnny looked up at him with a smirk, then began to trudge back home, knowing that his dissapointment would turn to anger back at his flat. For once he hoped Omar didn't rush out to see him. It would ruin his image he'd worked so hard to protect. But it was too late.
"Johnny?" Omar said, betrayal once boiling, now neutral in Johnny's throat when Omar said his name like that. Johnny told himself to be a man, get a grip and turn around. He could give as good as he got. He'd proved that yesterday physically, and now he'd have to prove it verbally too. With his back still turned on his favourite boss, he straightened himself up and gritted his teeth. He'd have to calm down, pretend he didn't give a shit, give Omo a witty dressing down for taking the piss. His words would be fired from his mouth like poisionous darts, to hide the innocent, confusing, hurt that was threatening to trickle down his face like invisible teardrops.