New Winslow S6E8
Roman woke up to the sound of his hospital room door sliding open. The sunlight streaming in the window was somewhat dimmed now, though he had no idea what time it was. But as he sat up, he saw Noah walking into the room, ducking slightly as he came through the doorway.
“Sorry,” Noah half-whispered, “I didn’t mean to wake you up. I’m dropping off some stuff from Celine.”
He held up a plastic grocery bag and Roman could see the outline of a toothbrush and what appeared to be some folded clothes. “Great,” he said, his voice rough. “Thanks a lot.”
“I texted you, but I’m not sure it went through.”
Roman glanced at his phone, which was sitting on the small table beside his bed. Noah’s message blinked up at him. “Nah, it did,” he said, rubbing his eyes. “I was sleeping.”
“I’ll leave you-”
“No, come sit down.” Roman motioned to the squat chair by his bed. “Come on.”
“Get the fuck over here.”
Noah laughed and sat down. He looked around the room. “Nice place.”
Now Roman laughed and immediately started coughing, tugging on the stitches in his chest. He motioned to the pitcher of water and glass on the table. “Pass me that?”
He’d expected Noah to just pass him the cup and pitcher, but instead, Noah poured him a glass and handed it over. Roman took a few sips, then moved the bed up so he could lean back.
“How are you?”
“Recovering,” Roman said. “How about you?”
“Not the one in the hospital,” Noah replied. “I’m fine.”
Roman rolled his eyes. “Things are good?”
Andrew was probably doing his best not to be mad at Roman, he knew. And although he had nothing to do with the fact that he’d gotten out and Andrew didn’t, Roman still felt a little guilty about it. Not that he was going to ditch the attempts to break the curse now that he’d gotten his answer, but maybe he’d have to let Andrew know that. Just in case that was a concern.
“How’s the shop?” Roman asked, looking for any kind of normal conversation topic. Now that he had a visitor, he suddenly wanted to keep Noah here for a little while.
“Yours?” Noah asked. “It’s fine. I didn’t realize how much business you guys did outside of New Winslow.”
“Yeah, most of our market is in town, but it’s not like the town is big enough to sustain the House of Pizza on its own. But I meant yours. The Limerick building.”
Noah laughed grimly. “That place is falling apart,” he said. “Not to the point where I regret anything we’re doing there. But enough that I might as well just move in, I’m spending so much time fixing shit.”
“Do you have an opening day yet?”
“Not yet,” he said. “But I think once I shake all the bats out of there, we’ll be in good shape to start planning it.”
“Don’t sell pizza.”
“I think we’ll manage not to.”
“I don’t know how I got out.”
The words were out before Roman realized he was saying them. But Noah just shrugged. “I mean, whatever it is, it beats dying in my pickup truck.”
They talked for a little while longer, the conversation staying friendly, but fairly neutral. Finally, Noah got up.
“I have to go,” he said, suddenly looking shy in the late afternoon sunlight. “Um, I’m going to a meeting in New Braintree. I’ve been going there a lot lately. If you want to go with me when you’re out.”
Roman had never been to an AA meeting outside of New Winslow and the thought of having to change that hadn’t even occurred to him. But he immediately nodded. “Sounds great,” he said.
Noah looked like he wanted to say something else, but then he just smiled, the gap in his teeth visible for a second. “Alright, I’m out,” he said. “Call me if you need anything.”
The meetings in New Winslow were only twice a week, so if Noah wanted to attend more than two – which he always did – he had to go outside of town. Which agitated him in a way that unsettled him even more. By the time he left the New Braintree meeting and started driving toward home, he felt like he was crawling out of his skin. He needed to get back to town. It didn’t need to be home, in fact he was planning to go to the Limerick and start clearing out the small storage closet in the dining room. But just being back in town would make this shaky feeling go away.
It was coming up on eight by now, but they owned the building and he had a key, so it wasn’t like he was doing anything wrong by being there. Even if he felt like maybe he should ask permission.
Permission from who? The others would either laugh or be very concerned if he asked them for permission.
His tension eased slowly as he made his way toward the town line. It was an odd feeling, since he’d never been too concerned about leaving town before now. Or really at all. He was a homebody, he knew that. Even when he’d spent nights at Jude’s place, he was relieved to get home in the morning. But lately, Noah felt something closer to fear whenever he was out of New Winslow. Maybe Liv’s trauma was impacting him more deeply than he’d expected it to. Maybe he should bring this up in therapy. And take steps to get her into therapy too, because she could really use the support right now.
The Limerick was closed up tight when he got there a few minutes later. Noah parked his truck outside the front door and went inside, quickly locking the door behind him. They needed a security system as soon as possible and he was actually a little surprised Liv hadn’t mentioned it yet, with how squirrelly she’d been. A wave of charms fell back into place as he flipped on the lights and looked around the room.
It could be worse. The windows were grimy, despite Andrew’s first round of scrubbing them. The wallpaper was hideous and peeling, even though it had only been a few years. John was a nice guy, but apparently his taste in wallpaper was the exact opposite of Noah’s newfound preference. Though it looked a lot like what his father had had in his living room, which made Noah feel briefly guilty for his disdain. But despite these cosmetic issues, the space was big enough to fit a comfortable amount of customers. They’d have to order new tables, though. Those few wobbly ones that had come with the sale weren’t going to cut it.
Bracing himself, Noah went over to the closet and opened it. Instead of a mountain of ghosts, all he saw was a pile of linens and what looked like a stack of old board games.
The linens were probably full of rat shit, so he’d deal with those in a minute. Instead, he carefully climbed over the pile and picked up the games. The dust made his eyes water, but he carried them out and put them on the closest table. Noah wasn’t a big board game fan, but he knew Liv liked them once in a while. And weren’t board game cafes big in Boston or something? Or was Noah woefully out of date? Andrew would know better than he would.
There were plenty of dead bugs within the sheets, but nothing to be concerned about. And no rats, meaning some god had been listening. There was no laundromat in town these days, but they could just bring these home and wash them there.
Shit, they were really doing this, weren’t they? It was like Noah hadn’t been there for the entire process and now he was standing here wondering how the hell it had happened. Not only were they doing this, but the others actually trusted him to do it right? After everything he’d managed to fuck up before?
He tried to push aside the unease that bubbled up and focus on the cleaning. That was something he knew how to do. He piled the sheets beside the closet door, then went back in. From here, there was a step stool, a couple broken chairs that weren’t worth salvaging, and a few notebooks. When he opened them, he was disappointed to see that the pages were blank.
Oh well, Andrew could probably find a use for them.
Some time later, the closet was emptied and its contents were organized in neat piles on the floor. As he stuffed the linens into a lavender-scented trash bag, Noah’s phone buzzed in his pocket and he pulled it out.
Are you home? Want dinner?
Shit, he’d lost track of time, it was nearly eleven. And as his stomach growled, he realized he hadn’t eaten since breakfast. He sent her a quick message back, dropped the bag, then hurried out of the shop, locking the door behind him.