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Justin Campbell Justin Campbell
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Dominick & Leah - Chapter 3


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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

3.


       Dominick arrived home that afternoon feeling proud of himself for being so cunningly complimentary to Leah – he had said what he’d wanted to say to her for so long in the best kind of way possible. His parents’ obsession with Uriah Heep in his childhood had finally paid off.


       He was also happy that she’d taken his words so well – she didn’t suggest he was coming on to her, nor did she act taken aback that he’d introduced such a compliment because he obviously liked her. She’d simply been happy and warm and positive about it, even delighted.


       “I finally did it. I finally complimented her eyes,” he told his mother, Elizabeth, while she was talking to her sister on the phone. She gave him a flicking gesture that told him not to bug her. “Alison, you can’t give me a thumbs up over the phone, stop doing that. I know, it’s great that Brian’s taking his first steps at such an early stage…yes…”


       Five minutes later, she got off the phone. “What is it, Dominick? Your cousin Brian’s just learning to walk, and he’s only reaching four months.”


       “That’s great. What I was saying was that I finally complimented Leah’s – “


       “Eyes?”


       Dominick rolled his own. “Yes. Her eyes. No, I complimented her toes.”


       “Her toes? You’ve never said a word about her toes before. If this girl has wonderful toes then she must be something special.”


       “I was being sarcastic, mom.”


       “Oh. Well that’s great, dear. Tomorrow you can compliment her ears.”


       Dominick sighed. “This isn’t big news to you?”


       “Well I would think that Brian’s learning to walk at such a young stage in his life would be big news. On the other hand, your talking about Leah’s eyes around here is so normal and old that frankly, it’s been a long time coming that you finally complimented her.”


       “Oh. Okay.”


       “But that’s good, Dommy. You finally did it.”


       “Yeah. I did. Though she has that stupid boyfriend of hers.”


       “Well haven’t you been talking about how Leah does nothing but put him down?”


       “Yeah, but it’s been a month and nothing’s happened. I’m not sure about it.”


       “Then you’ll just have to wait,” Elizabeth said. “Love don’t come easy.”


       “Mom…don’t go quoting The Supremes, I hate it when you sing that song.”


       “You just wait. She’ll come around if you’re patient. After all, I had to wait a year for Alison to be potty-trained when I was a kid before she finally got it down.”


       “Yeah, I know, I’ve heard that story a hundred times. When she did it you gave her a thumbs up, and the rest is history, blah blah blah.”


       “It sure is. Anyway, you should get on your homework if you have any.”


       “I did it at school. They have computers there, some of the stuff we’ve been doing is on computers and we don’t have one so I stayed after school and used the computer lab.”


       “Oh. Is a lot of the work in your program done on a computer? Do you think it would be a good idea to get one for the house?”


       “Nah, they cost a lot of money and I doubt we’ll be using computers for anything else, really. It’s just an accounting software thing.”


       “Are you sure?” Elizabeth asked. “You should always be prepared for what you’ll be doing in your career.”


       “Really, mom, don’t worry about it. Computers are for school and offices, not homes. I’m going to go listen to some BNL.”


       “I don’t like that band’s name,” Elizabeth mused.
--
       The next morning, Saturday, October 3rd, Heather Melton answered the phone in the house’s living room. “Hello?”


       “Hello. Is there a Dominick there?” The voice was female.
      
       Heather was nineteen and out of school, spending a lot of her nights with her friends at the bars near the market downtown. This did not sound like any of her friends, though, and was puzzled that her older brother would be getting phone calls from any girls at all. “Yes, there is, can you please hold for a second? I have to go wake him up.” She put the receiver down, noisily barged into Dominick’s room, and prodded him awake.


       “Dom, you have a phone call.”


       Wearily, he sat up, his eyes squinting in the sunlight coming through the window. “Who is calling me this early in the morning?”


       “It’s 10am. Pretty soon it won’t even be morning at all.”


       “In two hours, whatever.” He untangled himself from his sheets and followed his sister into the living room.


       Taking the phone, he said “Hello” in the most awake voice he could muster.


       “Hi Dominick, it’s Leah.”


       Dominick jumped and almost dropped the receiver. What the hell?


       “Sorry to wake you,” she continued.


       “Uh – uh – hi, Leah. How are you?”


       “I’m great, thanks. How are you?”


       “Uh – uh…”


       Heather, watching him, rolled her eyes and yelled, “he’s groggy and tired and super pleased to be talking to you!”


       “Is that your sister?” Leah asked, with the hint of a giggle.


       “Uh – uh…” He turned angrily toward Heather and shooed her away. “Yeah, that’s my annoying sister. What’s going on? I never expected a call – are things okay?”


       “Yes, they’re fine Dominick. I was just calling you to ask if you’d like to come to dinner.”


       Dominick’s eyebrows shot up his forehead and he began to gasp in breath – this was definitely not something he expected from such a pretty, attractive girl like her. “Uh…”


       “Uh? What’s with all the ‘uh-ing?’”


       “Of course! I’d love to come to dinner! What time?”


       “Seven o’clock. We live on 1210 Surrey Avenue, right off Bank Street.”


       “Cool. Did you know that I live at number 3, Miriam Street?” Dominick was feeling immensely happy and words just ran out of his mouth. “It’s a cul-de-sac but it’s just like your street!”


       “Oh. Okay. Um…do you know how to get to my place by bus?”


       “Yeah, no problem. Listen, thank you for inviting me.”


       “It’s no problem. I will see you this evening then.”


       “Okay. I will see you, too.”


       “Well, yes, you will.”


       “Yeah!”


       “Bye, Dominick.”


       “Bye!”


       Dominick hung up the phone, sighed happily, and turned to see his sister and father staring at him.


       “Good morning,” he said to them, coming back down to earth.


       “Good ‘uh,’” his father replied.


       “Hey, did you know that Gervin Street is just like ours? It’s not a cul-de-sac but it’s a street!” Heather mocked. “So is Slack Road! And Merivale!”


       “Cut it out,” Dominick grinned sheepishly. “I like her, okay?”


       “Okay. You like her. That or you like giving out our address to everyone you talk to on the phone,” his father, Patrick, said.


       “Looks like you’re awake now, too,” Heather said. “I guess if you need to get up early you just need to replace your alarm clock with that girl. Is this the eye girl?”


       Dominick went into the kitchen and grabbed some cereal.


       “Oh, yeah, the eye girl!” Patrick said. “Your mother told me about how you complimented her eyes or toes or whatever it was. Finally!”


       “That was yesterday. Today I won’t be home for dinner, because I’m having it with her.”


       “She asked you out?” Heather asked. “After that one compliment you gave her?”


       “Well she’s an eye girl,” Patrick joked. “She got complimented in the right way, so of course she’s asking him out.” He pointed at his son. “You, my boy, have an eye for complimenting girls in the right body parts.”


       “Come on, guys, this is getting ridiculous,” Dominick said as he poured a bowl of Rice Krispies. “I don’t have an eye for anything, and Leah isn’t an eye girl. I just like her eyes.”


       “Tell us something we don’t know,” Heather proclaimed. “So you finally have a date with her.”


       “It’s not a date. She has a boyfriend. She’s just inviting me for dinner, that’s all.”


       “Are you sure? Why do you think she’s doing this?”


       Dominick shrugged. “Friends invite each other to dinner all the time.”


       “Really? So, then, what, you have dinners with Daniel twice a week or something? We had no idea.”


       “Daniel and I go to Donald’s Foods now and then, we went last month.”


       “Oh, wow, Donald’s Foods. A classy place, but not the same as having dinner with his family, is it?”


       “That was when I was younger,” Dominick argued. “There were lots of times when I went to Daniel’s house or Dougie’s house, or Nick’s house for dinner. And they came here too, many times.”


       “Sure, when you were kids. What about last week?”


       “Aww. Whatever. Whatever you want to call it, then. I don’t care.”


       “That’s great then, you’re going on a date.”


       “Fine, I’m going on a date.”


       “That’s exciting,” Heather finished. “Good for you.”


       “I’m going on a date,” Dominick repeated, “with a girl, at her house, with her family, while she’s dating someone else.”


       “Don’t worry,” Heather said.


       “Why not?”


       Heather and Patrick glanced at each other, and then said the same thing at once.


       “She’s got beautiful eyes.”


--
       At five to six that evening, Dominick left the house and began his journey to Bank Street. It was the earliest his parents let him leave – he was so excited he wanted to leave much earlier.


       He caught the bus on Merivale Road, transferred to a different one at Meadowlands Drive, then transferred a third time at Billings Bridge Station. From there, he caught a bus and headed south on Bank Street towards Walkey Avenue. The whole trip took him half an hour.


       He crossed the road and continued south until he came to Surrey, where he turned and started to count the house numbers. As he got closer to 1210, he saw Leah sitting on the front steps, evidently watching out for him, yet it was only half past six.


       He waved. “Hey, Leah. I hope I’m not too early.”


       “No, not at all,” she replied. “You look good.” He was wearing a purple collared polo shirt with fresh blue jeans, almost tight-fitting. “Nice to see you not wearing flannel or denim at least.” She giggled.


       “Thanks, I was careful about what I wore,” he explained, feeling butterflies in his stomach. Date or no date, he was still about to enter Leah’s house and see her parents – and her boyfriend, too.


       “So – is there a lot of people here tonight?” Dominick asked almost uneasily.


       “No, it’s just my mother. Luke is working and my father doesn’t live with us.”


       “Oh. All right.”


       “Want to come in?”


       “Sure, okay.” Feeling stiff, he climbed the steps and entered the bungalow. Inside, he took his Nikes off and followed her through a hallway that led to a den.


       “Hey mom, Dominick’s here.”


       “Ah,” Hilary said. Getting up from her chair, putting her novel down, she approached Dominick and said, “Hello! You must be the nice boy Leah always talks about!”


       “Don’t mind her, she’s kind of weird,” Leah said affectionately. Dominick blushed. “Hi. You, um, must be Leah’s mother…though I don’t think I’ve heard her talk about you until now.”


       Hilary chuckled. “That’s natural of her. I’m Hilary.” She looked him up and down. “Nice clothes! Well, I better go and start dinner since you’re here. Leah, take care of him won’t you?”


       “Yeah.”


       “Oh, and Dominick?”


       “Yes?” he answered stiffly.


       “Do most people call you Dom, or Dommy?”


       “Uh…yes, my sister does, my family does.”


       “Cool! I think I’ll call you Dom then.” She turned and trotted off to the kitchen.


       “Uh…” Dominick started. “Well…”


       “Don’t worry about her, she’s always bubbly and stuff,” Leah said. “She’s like that to everyone, except Luke.”


       “Oh. And he’s working?”


       “Yeah.” They sat down on a couple of chairs located in the room. “Where does he work?” he asked.


       “Don’t worry about him. Luke works all the way over in Nepean, on Merivale Road.”


       “Merivale!? That’s down the street from me!”


       “I figured…after all, you did give me your entire address on the phone. Anyway, I don’t want to talk about Luke. How’s your weekend going so far?”


       “My weekend? Uh, it’s going fine. Though it’s only Saturday…it’s going swell.”


       Leah smiled. “That’s good.”


       “I like it when you do that,” Dominick suddenly said.


       “Do that? What?”


       “Smile.”


       “Oh…” she giggled again. “Why?”


       “It makes you look really, uh, cute,” Dominick struggled. “Not that I mean anything by it, I just like it when you smile.”


       “Oh, don’t worry about it, that’s fine. Thank you. Does it have anything to do with my eyes?”


       Dominick chuckled, becoming more comfortable. “Of course it does. Everything does.” He laughed.


       “That’s great,” she said, and giggled some more. “Except there’s no sun in here to shine on them and turn your river to wine.”


       “That’s okay. Any light counts. They’re perfect.”


       They sat there, smiling at each other.


       “So…well, what’s living here like?” Dominick struggled to find a new topic.


       “It’s okay, except when Luke is around, though I’ve told you enough about him. Want me to show you around?”


       “Sure, I’d love to walk around your place.”


       “Okay then.” They both got up and Leah led the way through the den, hallway, foyer, and kitchen. They explored the rooms at the east end of the house, which contained a laundry room, the den, and the dining room, and then continued on to the west side of the place, which contained the bedrooms and bathroom. They finished in Leah’s room.


       “Nice place,” Dominick observed. “Wow, you’ve got a nice record collection. Can I look at it?”


       “Sure.” She sat on the bed. Dominick perused the albums. “I’ve got a big eclectic taste in music, always have…wow, you have Talk Show by the Go-Go’s? I love ‘Head Over Heels.’”


       “It’s a good album,” Leah concurred. She watched as he gave delighted reactions to albums like …But Seriously, Human Racing and Rio. Pulling out The Rise and Fall by Madness, he said, “I can’t believe you actually have this one…’Our House’ was a great hit when I was twelve, I couldn’t stop listening to it!”


       Leah watched him. “A friend gave it to me seven years ago, it’s not bad. I’m glad you like these.”


       “Of course I do, you have the best of everything!” He pulled out another album with a topographic map as the artwork. “Martha and the Muffins! Wow!”


       “You really like all this stuff, eh?” Leah said. “You should come over again soon so we can listen to this stuff together.” On the inside, she felt warm and heartened that Dominick seemed to share the majority of her interests in music. It was just another one of those big things that made him so easy to get along with. She’d never had anyone praise her albums before, and her mother thought she was too mainstream in her musical interests.


       “Oh, yeah, we do,” Dominick said eagerly. “You should see my record collection – it’s not as big but I’ve got a lot of similar stuff.”


       “Neat.”


       “These days I’ve been really listening to a lot of Barenaked Ladies.”


       “What?”


       “You know – Barenaked Ladies.”


       “You listen to bare naked ladies? I never thought of you as someone who likes to listen to naked women.” She almost felt slapped in the face at this new information.


       “Um…well, I mean, they’re a really new band, I thought you might know them,” Dominick said uncomfortably, realizing that Leah obviously didn’t share this interest and feeling awkward.


       “They’re a band? Oh! Okay. I didn’t get it. No, I’ve never heard them before.”


       “Ah, I see. Yeah.” It was just a simple misunderstanding. “Right. Well I mean, they just released their first album this summer.”


       “I see. Got it.”


       “Right.” Dominick looked at the little mess of record sleeves on the floor around him. “Well, I’ll put these back in order then.”


       “Oh, don’t worry about it.”


       “Leah, I’m a guest. I shouldn’t be messing up your room. I’ll just arrange these…uh, did you have them in alphabetical order?” He sounded grave and very worried all of a sudden. Leah laughed. “No, I didn’t, don’t worry about it Dom.”


       “Okay, phewth. I’m not great at that.” He collected all the sleeves and neatly lined them together against the wall like they were before. “That’s cool.”


       “Thanks. Here, I’ll help you up.” She got off the bed and stood over him. Dominick took hold of her hand and got up on his own two feet, so that they were staring at each other.


       A few seconds passed.


       From the kitchen, Hilary’s voice reached the bedroom. “Leah! Dom! Dinner’s ready!”


       “Right,” they both said almost in unison, and stepped out of the room together. Dominick felt almost dizzy with light ecstasy – they way they’d looked into each other’s eyes, close, and the energy between them had been ridiculously electrified. Leah, almost in a daze herself, found herself making the conscious decision that it was obvious that Luke was out and Dominick was in.


       Yes, that was it, right then. Luke was out, and Dom was in.


--      
      
       “Dom,” Hilary started the dinner conversation off. “So – nice clothes aside, Leah tells me you’re a very nice guy.”


       “Uh – well, I’m happy to make that impression. I try to be polite and good-mannered.”


       “Well you’re doing a good job of it.”


       “Thank you.”


       Leah said, “he’s in all of my classes at Algonquin, we study together.”


       “Is that right?”


       “Yes, it is,” Dominick answered. “She’s like a reliable study partner, we do most of our work together.”


       “Yeah, makes it more fun and easy,” Leah conceded. “Remember last week we had to do that presentation and Charlie kept making those stupid gestures?”


       “Who’s Charlie?” Hilary asked.


       “Just a rambunctious classmate of ours,” Dominick explained. “He’s from Kanata, likes Nirvana and likes to act as the class clown. I don’t really pay much attention to him.”


       “Me neither,” Leah agreed.


       “Well, I’d love to hear more,” Hilary said. “Why don’t you tell me about yourself, Dom.”


       “Okay, sure. Where should I begin…”


       “Why not at the very start,” Hilary suggested. “Where were you born?”


       Dominick looked at Leah, who seemed almost as interested as her mother despite knowing most of what he would be saying already.


       “Okay. Um, well, I grew up in Pineglen, a small, forested neighborhood off Merivale Road before it becomes rural. It’s on the edge of the greenbelt and it’s located next to Nomorbrook, a similar neighborhood a little bigger than Pineglen. Most of my friends are from Nomorbrook.”


       “Go on,” Hilary prodded.


       “Well, I know my parents bought the house in 1970. They married a year before; my father grew up in Ireland and immigrated here in the mid-60s. My mother grew up in Montreal. They were both born at the end of the second world war, which seems so long ago these days. I don’t have any uncles or aunts on my dad’s side, but I have an aunt on my mother’s side who is younger than her by twelve years. Her name’s Alison and she just had a baby in June, actually.”


       “That’s nice. What’s the baby’s name?”


       “Brian. He’s just beginning to walk, actually.”


       “Right. Keep going.”


       “I was born in July of 1971, then my sister Heather came along in November of 1973. I like to think I had a good childhood. My father is a civil servant in the federal government and my mother is a school trustee in the public school board. She was very involved in our education. I went to Meadowlands for elementary school, then Sir Winston. I graduated from Fisher Glen Secondary in 1989. Anyway, I grew up in a very normal household, basically.”


       “Dominick went to Algonquin once before for radio broadcasting, I think it was,” Leah mused.


       “That’s right, yes, I went for a semester but decided it wasn’t for me. There was this almost arrogant guy that came and talked to us once, he was an alumni, and he kept saying that the industry was not about wasting time or being slow, it was about being on the dot and having the energy and pace to keep up with the services and sounds.”


       “Oh. Well have you ever considered going back for radio broadcasting?”


       “No. Not at the moment, anyway. Maybe I might think of going back, but right now I’m just looking for stability, and business seems like the right place to go.”


       “Neat! Thanks for sharing,” Hilary said. “Has Leah told you all about herself?”


       “Not really…” he chose his words carefully. “I hear a lot about Luke though.”


       The two women gave each other a knowing look, and then Hilary said, “well, Leah came along in mid-March of 1972. She was, and is, my one baby angel.”


       Leah blushed a little. “Yeah.”


       “Her father – Derek – was not particularly around. He’s a traveling salesman, and he rarely drops by to check up on her.”


        “Oh? Does he go around the country a lot?”


       “He doesn’t usually go national but sometimes he works between here and Calgary. I know he does a lot of work in the south western part of Ontario, around Toronto.”


       “Ah. What do you do?”


       “I work at the Civic Hospital, as a midwife. It’s a pretty good job, and can be rewarding sometimes.”


       “Really?” Dominick was interested. “I was born there – how long have you been a midwife?”


       “Oh, not that long. I only properly started practicing it in 1978. I devoted a lot of time to raising Leah here.”


       “Well, she turned out wonderful,” Dominick praised. He meant it.


       “Thank you – it’s been a big job, I’ll say. Are you enjoying the potatoes?”


       “Yes, they’re great, thanks.”


       “There’s more if you like. Well, what else is going on these days? What do you think of today’s politics?”


       Dominick had to think of that one. What was the current Prime Minister? Mulroney, that was it. Did he have any big thoughts on him? No, he didn’t.


       “Honestly, I’m not particularly big on politics. My friend Daniel’s taking political science, he knows a lot. Although, I don’t really hear a lot of good things about Mulroney.”


       “I don’t see why you’d hear much good about him. I still can’t get used to this stupid GST tax.”


       “Ah,” Dominick said, vaguely remembering how it appeared on his receipts whenever he went to Donald’s Foods, or the store. “The only thing I’ve really noticed at all, really, is that I hear about this Charlottetown Accord a lot on the news.”


       “Yes, it’s a big matter at the moment.”


       Dominick nodded.


       Leah looked at him, then looked at her mother. The table was silent.


       “Leah’s got a great record collection,” Dominick tried.


       “Oh, stop it,” Leah said.


       “Do you think so? I’ve always found her to be very mainstream.”


       “Well, all I know is that the music I found in her room is great-sounding to me.”


       “That’s nice.”


       “Have you guys lived here for a long time?”


       “Actually, this used to be my brother’s house. He gave it to me eight years ago, before then we were living in Vanier. This place is much better.”


       “Oh, yeah, that townhouse was awful,” Leah added.


       “Ugh, it was a disgusting little place. But the neighborhood children were nice, weren’t they? There was a good sense of community there.”


       “Yeah, I still keep in touch with Nick and Laura, they’re doing great in university.”


       “We kind of moved around a little,” Hilary explained. “When Leah was born I was living in an apartment at Meadowlands and Fisher, it was fairly new and not a bad place. Then I believe we went to Tanglewood in 1976 and stayed there for a couple of years before Vanier.”


       “Right. So you must have made a lot of friends,” Dominick said to Leah.


       “Not really. I was really shy when I was younger. I got out more in my early teens.”


       The table was silent for another minute or two as the three ate. Leah kept an eye on her friend – who seemed to be looking more like her boyfriend – and felt comfortable and at ease; Luke and Hilary didn’t often talk or converse at dinner at all when he was home at that time, and Dominick seemed to be trying his best to be open and engaging.


       When they finished eating, Dominick offered to collect the plates. “No, don’t worry about it, I’ve got it,” Hilary responded. “Leah, can you collect the condiments for me? Thanks.”


       “It’s no problem at all,” Dominick offered. “I’d love to be of help if I can.”


       “You’re our guest, not our servant,” Hilary laughed. “We’ll just be in the kitchen for a few moments, please don’t get up.” The two went into the kitchen.


       “Leah,” Hilary said quietly to her daughter at the kitchen counter, “can you please trade Luke in for Dom out there? Pretty please?”


       “You want me to trade Luke for Dominick? They’re not baseball cards.”


       “I know they’re not, but that’s a keeper right there. He’s polite, charming, helpful – and he’s so nice!”


       “I know he is. And I’m thinking about it – you’re right. Luke is not for me anymore. But we have to move at our own pace, you know.”


       “Oh, I know. But I’m getting impatient – you said you’ve known each other for a month? He should have been here and had three dinners with us by now!”


       “Calm down, mom. I know he likes me. We’ll just have to see where this goes – be patient, please, just a little longer?”


       “Okay,” Hilary replied, bouncing on the balls of her feet. “But not much longer!”


       Leah regarded her mother with an almost motherly amusement – she could be so silly and childlike sometimes, especially where boys were concerned. She could see exactly how her mother had driven the relationship she’d had with her father – and even end up with a daughter in the process.


--
       After dinner, Hilary, Leah, and Dominick went into the den and relaxed in the armchairs with desert – Dominick insisted on sitting at the table instead of holding the bowl of ice cream in his hands – and watched a little television. It was getting late, but no one was arguing about the time, so they watched the news, then later turned the TV off and discussed the kind of literature they liked.


       Dominick called his friend Daniel and asked if he could come out and drive him home by 12:30 – the three of them were enjoying a good discussion of Stephen King and Dean Koontz novels – so he was hoping Daniel could pick him up instead of having to rely on the late bus service. After that was arranged, he went back into the den to find Leah and Hilary waiting for him.


       “Want to play charades?” Hilary suggested.


       Dominick shrugged. “Sure, but I’m not great at it.”


       “Don’t worry, this’ll be easy. I’ll go first. Go sit on the couch with Leah.”


       Dominick sat on the couch where Hilary indicated (right next to Leah) and watched as her mother started making gestures in the middle of the room.


       “Oh, you do this all the time,” Leah said. She turned to Dominick with a smile on her face. “She’s doing Paul Simon.”


       “You’re turn, Leah,” Hilary said. Leah got up and started doing certain dance moves.


       “Oh, I get it,” Dominick ventured. “I recognize that.”


       “Really?” Hilary said, looking concentrated. “I don’t see it at all.”


       “So you’re pretending to be Olivia Newton-John? Getting physical?” Dominick laughed. Leah grinned and started to laugh as well.


       When Dominick went up, he could only think of one kind of move that would be instantly recognizable to the girls. Feeling a little silly, he started to do a certain dance.


       “Thriller!” both of them shouted in excitement. Michael Jackson. Exactly.


       The night continued to get more relaxing and fun.


--
       By half-past eleven, they were sitting together again, watching Saturday Night Live. Hilary gave them the couch and sat in an armchair to the right.


       The show was pretty good, at least in Dominick’s view; he hardly watched it to begin with. He’d never heard of Tim Robbins, the host, either. He was more focused on the fact that he was starting to hold Leah’s hand halfway through the show.


       The house was quiet except for the den, where the TV made the most noise. The three of them were watching with rapt attention, and Leah found herself feeling content, especially while holding Dominick’s hand.


       Then Hilary looked towards the entranceway to the room. “Oh!”


       “Leah! What are you doing? Who is that?” Luke entered the room. Leah jumped in surprise.
“Luke!”


       “Who is that guy? I didn’t know you were having a visitor!”


       Hilary stood up. “Luke, that’s Dominick.”


       Dominick stood up, relinquishing Leah’s hand. “Hello, you must be Luke – “


       Luke pushed Dominick backyards roughly. “You’re Dominick! What are you doing here? Why are you holding her hand?” He was shouting at the top of his voice. Dominick suddenly found himself wondering where his friend Daniel was – wasn’t it after midnight by now?


       Luke wasn’t bigger than Dominick but he wasn’t smaller, either. He advanced on him. “That’s my girlfriend!”


       “I’m sorry, I did not mean to give the impression – “


       Luke pushed Dominick backwards again. Suddenly, he felt angry. He regained his balance and pushed back at Luke, who stumbled backwards just as he had.


       “Don’t touch me!” Luke yelled.


       “Whoa! Whoa! Stop it!” Hilary cried. Leah tried to put herself in between Dominick and Luke. On the television, Sinead O’Connor was holding up a photograph of the Pope while she sang; she started to tear it up.


       “Out of my way, girl! He’s stealing you from me!” He roughly pushed Leah out of the way and advanced on Dominick again.


       “I don’t want to fight, man, just cool off,” Dominick exclaimed.


       “Keep your hands off my girlfriend!” He put his hands on Dominick’s shoulders and firmly braced him. “What were you doing with her!?”


       “Let go of him!” Hilary yelled. The four of them were eerily lit by the television, which was the only bright source of light in the room. The way the light from it flickered as the scenes changed on the screen made it almost look like a dark dream.


       From the front hall, the doorbell rang.


       Dominick pushed Luke again, removing his hands from his shoulders. “Cool off! You’re disrupting the entire room!”


       “Leah, go call the police! Who’s at the door?”


       Leah ran out of the room and into the front hall, where the phone was. At the window by the door, she saw a young man peering through it. He waved at her and looked concerned. She ran to the door and opened it.


       “Hi, are you Leah?”


       “Yes, who are you?”


       “I’m Dominick’s friend, here to pick him up – but is there something wrong?” From the front hall, they could both hear Luke struggling with Dominick as Hilary screamed at them.


       “It’s my boyfriend – well, my ex-boyfriend now,” Leah said. Daniel rushed past her and entered the den. Turning on the overhead light, he saw Dominick – and an angry guy in a rage, swinging his fist at him.


       Daniel rushed Luke from behind, wrapped his long arms around his torso, and swung him away from Dominick. Daniel was two feet taller than Luke, outweighed him, and had a lot more strength. Luke flopped around sideways and toppled over the coffee table, knocking off the contents – Dominick’s desert plate, and several magazines.


       “Hey, cool it off right now or you’re going outside with me!”


       “Who are you!?”


       “No one, to you.”


       Dominick, gasping, stood by Daniel. “Thank god you came! He was trying to kill me!”


       “Leah, did you call the police?”


       “They’re on their way.”


       “What!? You’re calling the police on me!?”


       “You disturbed the peace,” Hilary pointed out sternly.


       “What is wrong with you!?” Leah yelled. “I can’t believe you acted like that!”


       “Yeah, well, how else am I supposed to act when I find out you’re cheating on me?”


       “She’s not cheating on you,” Dominick exclaimed. “Can’t you listen to reason? I was invited to have dinner with her – by her – and that’s it! Didn’t you know that?”


       “No! And you were holding her hand!”


       Dominick turned to the both of them. “Luke had no idea?”


       Leah looked hard at Dominick for a second, then turned to Luke.


       “You’re gone. I’m not letting you live here with me anymore. We’re done.”


       Luke went wide-eyed. “But – but why? Come on! I just got off work – you know I hate work – and when I come home and find you have a new boyfriend, how else am I going to react?”


       “She’s not – “ Dominick began, but Leah cut him off.


       “I am. And yes, I was cheating on you.”


       “Awww!” Luke burst. Hilary, Dominick, and Daniel all stared at Leah as Luke bowed his head.


       Leah looked at all of them for a second, then returned her attention to Luke. “You know why I was cheating on you? Because Dominick doesn’t spend his days using my money to buy and eat iced-tea crystals while watching Seinfeld and Home Improvement. Dominick doesn’t wake me up so he can ask for sex every second night. Dominick enjoys everything about my company. He listens. He’s intelligent and sensible. He likes what I like – and he respects me. You don’t.”


       “I’m your boyfriend?” Dominick breathed.


       Leah favored him with a big smile, which made her eyes look wonderful. “If that’s okay with you, Dommy. Is that okay?”


       Dominick burst into a grin. “Okay? Why – why – that’s hugely…amazing!”


       At that moment, the doorbell rang and a knock rapped on the door. “I’ll get it,” Hilary said. A moment later, she returned with a police officer.


       “What’s the problem?” she asked.


       “No! Don’t arrest me, I’m done, I’m finished, I won’t fight anymore,” Luke snapped up to attention. He was almost crying. “I’ll leave, I’ll do what you say!”


       Leah stepped in front of him. “You are done. But I’ll give you a condition.”


       The officer, Constable Henrietta Borden, examined the room. “Has there been a domestic disturbance here?”


       “Yes, there was,” Hilary explained. “That young man came in here and started attacking Dominick there.”


       “Sir, can you please come with me?”


       “Can you please give me one moment?” Leah asked her. “I’m giving him a chance.”


       Constable Borden sighed. “Ms., we were called here to resolve a domestic disturbance, which appears to have clearly happened. Are you asking me to withdraw from opening an investigation?”


       “No, I’m just asking you to give me one moment while I talk to him. Then you can go ahead.”


       “If we can have one second, you don’t have to leave,” Hilary said. “Two minutes?”


       The constable looked at everyone, then went and sat on the edge of a nearby armchair. “Okay, but I’m not wasting my time here.”


       Leah turned back to the scared young man that was her now ex-boyfriend. “I’ll give you one condition. If you listen to me, you won’t be arrested. Got it?”


       Luke, his eyes red from tears, nodded.


       “I want you to collect all your things – all your belongings – and remove them from this house. I want it done by the end of the weekend. I know you have other friends and I know you spend more time with them than me anyway so you should be able to find someplace else. I want everything that’s yours out of here –and I want you to be gone with them.”


       Luke’s face hardened. “You’re throwing me out?” He regained some of his composure and his voice became clear again.


       “Of course I am. And I don’t want to see you around. When you’re gone, you won’t return – here or anywhere near here. And if I find out from Dominick that you’re harassing him or threatening him, I’ll call the police again – and I won’t give you any chances.”


       Luke stood up, angry again. “That’s not fair! You can’t banish me – !”


       Constable Borden reacted like a cat to its prey. She jumped up and strode to Luke, just as he was about to shove Leah. As she stumbled backwards, she tripped over the coffee table; Daniel caught her before she could tumble backwards.


       Constable Borden swiftly caught Luke’s arm, spun him around, and whipped out her handcuffs.


       “Sir, I’m putting you under arrest for battery, assault, and disturbing the peace.” She grabbed her walkie-talkie. “Constable Paiten, can you please provide back-up, over.”


       “No!” Luke screamed as he was being held by the police officer. “I can’t do this! I don’t wanna go away!” He struggled under Constable Borden’s hold, but she had a good hand on him; even if he got away from her,
Daniel could stop him in seconds; a moment later, Constable David Paiten entered the house. Together, they took Luke away.


--
       On the drive home that night, Daniel said, “you’re right about her.”


       “Hm? Right about what?”


       “She has pretty eyes.”


       “Oh, yeah. Well of course she does. Thanks for driving me home – and saving me from that ex-boyfriend.”


       “No problem. She was right about him – he was a complete jackass.”


       “Well, it’s all over now.”


       “You sure you don’t want to press charges against him?”


       “No, no. I don’t want to complicate anything, and besides, that would just put us through a long, delaying process of legal proceedings that I don’t want to deal with, and neither does Leah, for that matter.”


       “Right. Well, at least some good came of it – she’s your girlfriend now.”


       “I’m so happy about that. My wish came true. It’s like she’s mine or something, won over from that idiotic slob of a man that didn’t treat her right.”


       On the radio, the U2 song ‘Mysterious Ways’ was quietly playing. It was quarter after 1am and the streets were mostly empty. Dominick felt soothed by Bono’s voice as he sung the ‘it’s alright’ refrain.


       “So, how was your night before that idiot entered the scene?”


       “Great. Her mother has really taken a liking to me…Leah has a great record collection, and we talked about politics over dinner.”


       “Politics? You don’t know anything about politics.”


       “Yeah, but I hate the GST tax.”


       “You haven’t said shit about the GST tax – in fact I don’t think you even knew it existed.”


       “I did. I saw it on my receipt a few times.”


       “Whatever. Anyway, we’re home.”


       Daniel cantered to a stop outside Dominick’s house on Miriam, and he wearily got out of the car. “Thanks again, Daniel – for everything.”


       “No problemo, brother. Get a good sleep, will you?”


       “Thanks, you too. Goodnight.”


       “Goodnight.” Daniel turned around and drove home, and Dominick entered the house, which was quiet and dark. Everyone was asleep.


       He sauntered to his bedroom, undressed, and got into bed. What a fiasco the last hour had been. A fiasco – and a miracle. Leah was his girlfriend!


       Keeping that thought in mind, he drifted off to sleep, feeling content and happy. Leah was his girlfriend. That was all that mattered.


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Justin Campbell's website: http://justincottawa.blogspot.ca/

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