MM Flash Fiction #5: Family
1.) Person who always asks “why?”
3.) Bruce Cruz
4.) Howard Simpson
“Uncle Bruce! Uncle Bruce! I wanna go to the park. Howe says we can go!”
Bruce sighed. Why had he volunteered to take care of Sarah? He didn’t have time for children in his life, even orphaned nieces.
Behind the little girl, Bruce’s butler, Howard, had already shed his suit and bowtie for jeans and a t-shirt. No matter what, he always looked good. Sexy. Lovable, even. He was carrying a picnic basket.
“I packed your favorite… sir.” Bruce didn’t miss the obvious pause, or the innuendo that went with it.
“Why now?” he asked. “I have to go into work. The money won’t come in by itself.”
Sarah’s face fell.
Howard frowned. “Sir, it’s Saturday and you have a niece to play with.”
“I think you’re capable of handling the situation, Howard. You’ve done a great job so far.”
Bruce smiled at them both, turned, and left the mansion.
Outside, Sarah caught up with him.
“I’m sorry sweetie, but I told the guys I’d go in. You’ll have fun with Howard. Go on now and I’ll see you when I get home.”
Bruce got into the back of his chauffeured town car.
“Sir, please don’t do this.” Howard had emerged to stand behind Sarah.
How could Bruce ensure they had enough money to survive if he didn’t go to work?
Howard approached the car. “Sir, if you do this, you’ll lose the only family you have.”
“I have to go.” He looked away from his butler’s sad expression as the car started down the driveway and out the gate.
An hour after arriving at his office, Bruce’s secretary ran in, a shocked expression on her face. She turned on his television. The news anchor was talking about Greenland Park, the place Howard had always liked to have picnics, even before Sarah had entered their lives.
Teenagers having fun had put a pipe bomb under the wooden play castle. And there was Howard on screen, blood running down the side of his face. No Sarah.
Bruce borrowed his secretary’s car keys and sped to the hospital.
Howard was in the crowded waiting room.
“Don’t ‘sir’ me. Not now.”
“Bruce…” Howard’s hands were trembling. “I was so scared.”
Bruce wrapped his arms around Howard. “Why did this have to happen? Where’s Sarah? Are you okay?” He checked Howard’s face for lacerations, but couldn’t find any.
“She’s getting stitches. Five in her upper arm. Otherwise she’s fine. I’m fine. Just shaken up.”
They sat together and waited for Sarah, Howard’s hand in Bruce’s.
“I have my secretary’s car. I’ll drop you off at home on my way back to work.”
When Sarah returned, she clung to Howard, sobbing while he calmed her, like her father would have.
“Sarah? What if I took Saturdays off and didn’t have a butler?”
Understanding dawned in Sarah’s eyes. She hugged Bruce.
Howard choked. “Sir, I… yes. Oh my God, yes!”