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Justin Campbell Justin Campbell
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Dominick & Leah - Chapter 5


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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

5.


       Dominick and Leah decided to celebrate New Year’s Eve (and day) at Dominick’s place in Pineglen. It was an eventful affair, with Heather, Dominick, Leah, Daniel, Leah’s friend Laura, and Heather’s friends Tina and Brooke all getting tipsy from the celebration. The Redpines visited, and almost everyone made sure to ask Emma how the baby was coming along; on Christmas Day, they’d given the news that Emma was pregnant and would be expecting the baby (the gender currently unknown) in May the coming year.


       Leah slept over in Dominick’s room, though it wasn’t easy since Dominick’s bed was hardly big enough for the two of them.  The entire house was full as everyone except Daniel stayed over night; the next day, the Langleys, consisting of Elizabeth’s younger sister Alison, her husband Mitchell, and baby Brian came over for a visit.


       Everyone marveled as Alison managed to coax the young child, six months old now, to walk the short distance from Mitchell to her in the living room. Rewarding him with two thumbs up, Alison gave the baby to Mitchell and turned her attention on the couple.


       “Hey hey, Dominick! Introduce me to the beauty here!”


       “Um, well, this is Leah. Leah, that’s my aunt. She’s a small-time screenwriter.”


       “Hello.”


       Alison shook her hand, then gave the two the thumbs up. “You look great together. When did you meet?”


       “We met in college,” Dominick started. “In class. Couldn’t study the board with her there.”


       “We used to study together, we still do in fact. But there’s a lot of kissing nowadays,” Leah joked.  As Dominick thought about it, most of that was true.


       “Neato! Well, happy New Year, you two. I sincerely hope 1993 goes well for all of us!”


       As Alison turned away, Leah looked at Dominick. “Dom, what’s with her and that hand gesture?”
“The thumbs up? Don’t ask me. My mother might overhear us. It’s just a quirk of hers.”


       “That’s…different.”


       “She likes to complain about how Roger Ebert stole her ‘two thumbs up’ rating on his show with Gene Siskel.” He glanced at the infant, Brian, in Mitchell’s arms. “God knows Brian will grow up giving everyone around him the thumbs up gesture.”
--
       The next day, January 2nd, Dominick and Leah decided to take out an errand for his parents, and drove up Merivale Road using Patrick’s large GMC van. It was a great vehicle for doing a lot of shopping, and the two liked the idea of spending a day shopping and running errands together.  They picked up groceries at the IGA store, rented a couple of videos from the Blockbuster, and had a light meal at Donald’s Foods.


       The only awkward part of the entire affair was the long list of items Elizabeth had written down under the heading “Kresge’s Goods.” Feeling uneasy, Dominick found a space in the parking lot right outside the doors. He wanted the vehicle right there so they could get to it quickly if they had to get away fast.


       Not that they had to get away fast – all they were doing was shopping at a retail store. That was how Leah had put it.


       “Dominick, you have nothing to worry about. Luke is an idiot, but this is where he works, and it’s not like he’s going to jeopardize his job and lynch you when you go inside the store.”


       “I remember a better time, when I was young and got my baby photos taken here,” Dominick mused. “Now I have to watch out for some crazy guy while I’m with his ex-girlfriend.”


       “Oh, come on. I’m with you, remember that. If he sees you, he’ll see me too, and he won’t want to see me at all.”


       “Okay.” But as he walked through the front doors, he felt almost shaky, and remained overly observant.


       They wandered the aisles and found most of what they were looking for without incident. Dominick didn’t find Luke anywhere in the store (so far) and every time he picked something off the shelf, he did not find Luke’s face glaring at him behind where the item had stood. If he felt like he’d been watched or followed, that wore off the longer they spent in the store without finding the guy. Leah held his hand the entire time, which made him feel better but not totally better.


       Then the P.A. system sounded: “Luke, please return to toys for customer assistance.”


       “We’re not going near toys, are we?” Dominick anxiously asked.


       “Not right now, but we do have a couple of things here for your cousin that your mother wanted us to pick up.”


       “Brian? Aw, why don’t we just go to Toys ‘R’ Us or Zellers for that? Why aren’t we in Zellers now?”


       “Because your mother kept telling us how they’re both more expensive, remember? Anyway, she didn’t give us enough money to go to either place; they’re too expensive, just like she said.”


       Dominick stared at her, then at the list. As he saw the words “…for Brian…” written next to several toys, he looked back at Leah and gave her a thumbs down. She laughed out loud. “Let’s just finish what we have here.”
--
       Fifteen minutes later (the time it took for Dominick to finally gather up his courage, and for Leah to not find anything else on the list that did not include the children’s aisle), they quietly walked over to the Toy section of the store.


       Arriving, they found the place cluttered and in a slight mess. Either it was normally like that due to unsupervised, rambunctious children frequenting the area, or it was because of Luke’s lack of attention to zoning the aisles. Dominick saw the toys listed almost like a hawk seeking its prey, grabbed them, and put them in the cart Leah pushed.


       “What the – hey! What are you two doing here?” Luke, having walked by the head of the aisle, spotted them and backed back into it.


       “Shopping,” Leah said in a non-committal voice.


       Dominick turned away from Luke and said, “We’ve got what we came for, let’s just go.”


       “And why are you shopping here?” Luke demanded.


       “Well it’s a free country,” Leah sharply retorted. “We can shop wherever we want.”


       “But why? Why did you have to come here? With him? You don’t live anywhere near here!”


       “No, but Dominick does. And anyway, it’s none of your business.”


       “Dominick does?” He gave a sort of growl. “Ugh.” His voice suddenly changed into a mocking, baby-voiced one. “And did we find what we’re looking for? Hmm?”


       Dominick turned around. “Luke, please don’t talk to her like that.”


       Luke repeated him in the same mocking voice. “Please don’t talk to her like that.”


       “I didn’t know they allowed three-year-olds to work here,” Leah observed in mock-interest. “Not usual for Kresge’s Goods, but hey, they put him here in the toy section to have fun!”


       Luke looked down at the floor. “Please go. Please, just leave.”
      
       “Have we hurt your feelings?” Leah mocked, feeling particularly nasty.


       “Leah…don’t sink to his level. Let’s just leave.”


       “No. He just told us to leave, and he’s not in charge of what we do in the store.” She raised her voice again. “We’re not leaving until you apologize.”


       “Apologize?” Luke’s voice echoed shock. “Apologize for what?”


       “For making us feel unwelcome and shunned in the toy section, that’s what,” Leah replied. “And for acting like an idiot.”


       “Leah…” Dominick started, surprised by her own childishness, but Luke interrupted him. “Girl,” he said, coming closer, “You may have been able to tell me what to do, where to get lost, in your own house, but here, I am the man, the guy in charge. And there’s nothing you, or your little Mr. Polite-wimpy-little boyfriend can do about it.” He looked her directly in the face. Sneering, he said, “I forgot how ugly those eyes were.”


       Dominick, standing behind his beautiful girlfriend, suddenly felt a hot rage flare up over the bubbling anger he’d been feeling for the past minute. He stepped around her and butted in. “What did you say?”


       Luke exhaled his sour breath in Dominick’s face. “Exactly what you heard me say, dumbass.”


       Dominick stared directly into Luke’s eyes, leveled perfectly with his, took a big breath, and knew exactly what he was going to do next.


       “Manager!”


       “Huh?” Luke stood there, eyebrows raised, dumbfounded for a moment.


       “Maaannaaaageeerrr!!!” Dominick screamed at the top of his lungs.


       “Stop yelling,” Luke said uncomfortably. Leah, surprised, just watched her boyfriend as he screamed.
       Dominick felt a rush of adrenaline that he’d never felt before. “You think I’m gonna hit you, man? What kind of ass are you? All we’re doing is shopping! Who cares how you feel!? You’re working!”


       Leah, completely unprepared for this, put her hand on Dominick’s shoulder. “Dom, it’s okay – “


       “It’s not okay! I will never hear you say that again!” he spat in Luke’s face. “Despicable! You think it’s a crime for us to be together? Well too bad for you, asshole! Too fucking bad! I don’t want to ever hear you give her shit again, ever, because she’s a miracle and I love her! I f – “


       Luke, not taking anymore of this, raised his fist and punched Dominick in the face, fast and swift. Dominick teetered back and almost fell just as the department manager entered the aisle, having just seen what happened.


       “What in Kresge’s Goods is going on?” he said, out of breath from his run to the aisle. “Luke, what did I just see you do?”


       Leah started to speak, but Dominick cut her off, wincing in pain. “This associate is giving us a hard time, sir. He’s acting inappropriate and trying to get a rise out of us.” He wiped his nose, which was bleeding.


       Leah breathed, “he punched Dominick!”


      The department manager, Nathan Andrews, bowed his head. “I saw that. But what was the yelling all about?”
      
       Luke whipped around. “He was screaming at me!”


       “Luke – don’t make this worse for you, and lower your voice please.”


       “He was taunting Dominick to hit him,” Leah explained. “Except instead Dominick verbally hit him.”


       “Is this true, Luke?”


       “No, sir…well, no, I wouldn’t hit them. Uh, or, I shouldn’t have hit him.”


       “Would you all like to come to my office?” Nathan asked. “We can sort it out there, in private. I can get you a handkerchief for your nose.”


       “No, thanks,” Dominick replied. “We would just like to finish our shopping, however it would make us feel better if this person did not harass or assault us any longer while we’re here. He’s offending Leah here…” he put both hands on Leah’s shoulders – “and he’s making us feel unwelcome and difficult.”


       Nathan nodded. “Okay. Luke, come with me, please.”


       Luke, standing there with his head bowed, noticeably upset, slowly turned towards the manager.


       “We profusely apologize for this experience, guys,” Nathan said in a sincere tone. “Are you sure you don’t want some ice or tissue for your nose?”


       “No thanks, but thank you,” Dominick said. From her pocket, Leah gave Dominick some tissue paper.


       “No problem. We’re here to be of service, and we hope you come back again soon.”


       “Thanks, we will,” Leah said. Putting her hands on his shoulders now, they walked towards the checkouts. Nathan, accompanying them with Luke, instructed the cashier to give them a 50% knockoff for all of their items in return for their negative experience, and then they left.
--
       As they drove back to Dominick’s, Leah said, “I don’t think any guy has ever done that for me.”


       “Done what? Stood up for you?”


       “Well, I mean, like the way you did. You’ve never been an aggressive person.”


       Dominick grunted.


       “Don’t act all modest. You were so…different.”


       “Was I? I didn’t even raise a fist against him, I just yelled.”


       “That’s entirely the point,” Leah explained. “That’s exactly what made you different. I know Luke well enough to know that he was trying to get you to punch him.”


       “I know he was.”


       “But you didn’t. You didn’t sink to his level. You didn’t touch him. You acted like an adult, Dominick.”


       “Did I? I felt like a little kid having a temper tantrum, really.”


       “That’s the next best thing,” Leah reassured him. “You vented on him. You yelled at him. You didn’t touch him and get us thrown out of the store like a pair of teenagers. You had the power.”


       Dominick chuckled. “That’s true,” he said.


       “The point is, Dommy, you acted mature and you stood up for me. And…you said you love me.”


       Dominick looked over at her and saw an expression of tenderness on her face. He felt a sudden rush of emotion as he saw those angelic eyes all soft like that. Awkwardly, he said, “the word was spoken somewhere in there, yes.”


       Leah took off her hat and threw it at him. “’in there somewhere,’ right. But you just screamed it…you just screamed it to the entire store. Dominick, standing up for me is one thing, but standing up for me simply because you love me is another thing altogether, another step up, another huge deal. And it’s so…so fucking meaningful.”


       Dominick smiled at the memory of his course language and professions of love. He took Leah’s thrown hat and tossed it back at her. “Copy-cat. Oh, Leah.” They stopped at the new West Huntclub intersection. “Leah, Leah, Leah. You know I love you, right?”


       “Yes. Yes, I do. I know you do, just like I utterly love you back. We love each other.”


       Dominick, feeling a soaring warmth inside him, could only reply with the same timeless phrase.


       “We love each other.”
--
       College would finish for them that year in late April, following another final exam, and then they went into May with warm sunshine and time on their hands. Emma Redpine gave birth to a beautiful baby girl she named Mae; she was delivered at the Civic Hospital on May 23rd, in the witness of her father, Lyle, and two young men who were only identified as ‘unexplained special guests.’


       They celebrated with the new arrival at Dominick’s, though Leah didn’t attend because, in her words, this had hardly anything to do with people she knew, and Dominick agreed that perhaps they needed at least one affair where they weren’t together. This was family stuff that she didn’t have to be apart of this time. They both continued on as they did, although Leah slowly begun to feel eternally looked up at; while her boyfriend did voice any negative viewpoints more often, he still forfeited them easily in support or agreement for her, and in his mind, she was his ideal girl – an idea, a want, a standard, not a reality, though Dominick seemed to make it seem that way.
--
       On the first of July, Dominick, Leah, her friend Laura, Daniel, and Dominick’s other friend, Doug, relaxed in Leah’s backyard as Canada Day celebrations went on throughout the day. They barbequed hamburgers and hot dogs, and Doug introduced his girlfriend, Emily.


       Daniel shook her hand. “I’m Daniel. You look very pretty.” He turned to Doug. “Is that really Leslie you have here?”


       “Looks like her, doesn’t it?” Doug grinned. Dominick turned, noticed Emily, and did a double-take. “Whoa! Is this Emily? Hi, I’m Dominick.”


       Emily giggled at the two boys staring at her. “Thanks, hi, yes, I am Emily. Dougie’s said quite a bit about you guys…” the two continued to stare. “Although he didn’t mention the attention you all seem to give.” At that moment, Leah came up to the group. “Is this Doug? Hi.” She approached Doug, who raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Dom, is this Leslie?”


       “Looks like her, doesn’t it?” Dominick echoed. “This is Leah.” They shook hands.


       “Who’s this Leslie?” Laura inquired. Everyone had briefly forgotten she was there.


       “Um, just this girl that looked kind of like, uh, well, Leah and Emily in high school,” Doug said with a trace of awkwardness.


       “Now that I see it, they both look alike,” Daniel mused as he glanced at Emily and Leah.


       Dominick shrugged and laughed. “I guess it’s just our type.” He winked at Doug. “We’ve got great taste.”


       Doug laughed. “Neat catch bro.” They both high-fived. Daniel, Leah, Laura and Emily shook their heads.


       “I met her at Ryerson,” Doug explained. “Couldn’t take my eyes off her. We’re both in the same class.”


       “Yeah, it’s the same with Leah and I, met at Algonquin.”


       Hilary, Leah’s mother, came trotting out of the house. Turning to Emily, she said, “Leah, can you help me with – “ She cut herself off as she stared at Emily.


       “I’m here, mom. That’s Doug’s girlfriend Emily.”


       Hilary slowly turned towards her daughter. “Since when did you have a twin?”


       “I don’t know, apparently since today I guess.”


       “Hi,” Emily said. “I’m here with Doug.”


       “I see. Leah, can you help me with the dishes?”


       “Would you like me to help as well?” Dominick inquired.


       “Sure, thanks, that would be helpful.” The three went into the house.


       “So, Doug, Emily, how has life been in Toronto?” Daniel asked conversationally.


       “Oh, great. We’re in Ottawa for the next three weeks and then we’ll be heading back to Toronto, so we’re looking for excitement.”


       “Cool. Are you from Ottawa, Emily?”


       “No, I live in London, but I’m staying in Toronto for school.”


       “We’re planning on teaching in the Toronto school district in the future,” Doug explained.


       “Oh?” Daniel replied, surprised. “I thought you were going to come back here and work in the OCDSB.”


       “I was, but with Emily in the picture now, I think I’m going to stay in Toronto, unless she decides she wants to come to Ottawa.” He turned to her. “Eh, sweetie?” They both smiled at each other.


       “Wow,” Daniel said. “So you’re already making big future plans to include Emily? No offense,” he added to the young woman.


       “Well, the way I see it, as long as she wants to stay in Toronto, I want to be with her, so yeah, definitely. I love her.” As he said that, they kissed. Daniel looked away as they kept at it for the next few seconds, mildly surprised at Doug’s devotion to this one girl, who looked almost identical to Leah. He couldn't help but wonder if Dominick was already considering the same kind of big ideas for his ‘twin.’


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

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