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Flash Fiction: Sugar Pills

AUTHOR'S NOTE: It's been a long time since we had a story about Vince, so enjoy! Be sure to drop by Three Word Wednesday and Weekend Writer's Retreat for more fun.

Sara dug through the canvas bag in exasperation. Was this his idea of a joke? “Homeopathic remedies?” She shoved the bag across the table. “I’m a real nurse, Vince, not some quack playing 'let’s pretend.'”

“Hey, it’s not like I work for a manufacturer, you know. When I find stuff, I bring it to you. If you can use it, great. If not, it isn’t like I paid any money for it.”

“And where’d you steal this particular batch of sugar pills?”

“Does it matter?”

“I guess not.” Sara sat down with a sigh. She had felt so optimistic when her brother told her that he had acquired a stash of medicine. Shortages were rife at the hospital, and a lot of her patients lacked the money or the clout to leverage a spot at the top of the waiting list. It was embarrassing that her brother was a gang leader, but he could sometimes get things a person of her lowly station couldn't afford, or even find. “I had so hoped for tetracycline. Or at least some vitamins.”

“I’m sorry.” He touched her hair. “I didn’t mean to get your hopes up.”

“It’s okay. You didn’t know.”

Vince examined her with wary eyes. “There’s someone in particular you’re thinking of.”

“A kid. The parents aren’t rich or important, so she’ll probably die.”

“And these cycling pills would help, if you had them?”

“Tetracycline. Yeah, it’s what the doctor prescribed, but you practically have to be El Duque to get any. There’s none anywhere in the city.”

“We’ll see about that.” Vince straightened his leather vest. “I’m working a deal in about an hour, but after that, I’ll make some inquiries. There’s a few guys who owe me favors.”

“And more than a few who you owe money,” she reminded him.

He smiled, and it was the same boyish grin Sara remembered from their childhood. Vince had done a lot bad things since their parents died, but his generosity and spark of mischief were unchanged.

“What’s money, anyway?” Vince said. “It’s just some crazy thing that we all agree on, but isn’t really important in its own right.” He started toward the door, then stopped and dug in his pocket. “I almost forgot.” He went back to her and slipped something into her hand. “Don’t go pawning it so you can buy stuff for your patients, okay?”

Sara examined the piece of polished amber on a chain.

“Better than that bag of useless stuff, right?”

To Sara, jewelry was about as useful as homeopathy. She would wear it for a little while, until Vince forgot about it, and by then maybe there would be antibiotics for sale again on the black market. She could pawn it then. “Sure,” she told him, returning his winsome smile. “It's much nicer than sugar pills.”

For more stories about Vince, go here.


Jay R. Thurston said...

A classic example of "you cannot choose your family" but at the same time capitalizing on connections. Definitely a sibling love/hate relationship at its finest.

Another nicely done story Ann!

Oh and thanks for your comment as always. That is strange about your friend and the exchange rate incident!

August 12, 2010 at 7:39 AM
Thom Gabrukiewicz said...

I like the play of these two, the sugar and the salt, and how Vince's salt is tempered by his sister. They both have a strength to them that is so good to see in characters, but they aren't perfect, either. Great writing, as usual.

August 12, 2010 at 9:39 AM
K said...

Hi Ann.
I have to agree with ThomG. I absolutely love the interplay between this brother and sister. Not too far off from many sibling relationships. Whether intentional or not, each has their place and their role to play. Vince isn't all that bad, it seems.

As always Ann. I am impressed.

August 12, 2010 at 10:23 PM
Daily Panic said...

If you ever wanted to peek into public relations entwined into intimate relationships- you did that with this piece.
Vince could be a politician with his connections, solving his sisters needs, and still compasionate of what she personally is sacrificing. i like the respect these two have for each other.
very good expression of emotion.

August 12, 2010 at 11:56 PM
Alice Audrey said...

I bet he knows very well that she doesn't really like it. He clearly knows she'd rather pawn it for her patient's sake. She shouldn't be so snobby about the "sugar pills" anyway. Sometimes they work.

Do we get to see Vince work his magic and gt the Tetracycline?

August 13, 2010 at 11:10 AM
Julia Phillips Smith said...

I love Vince's cycling pills. Great dialogue, Ann - the scene really clipped along. I couldn't believe it was over so soon.

August 13, 2010 at 4:44 PM
Dee Martin said...

been away on vacation so I haven't posted much but I wanted to visit some of my favorite places anyway. I agree with everything already said here - I love the two of them together. In the middle of everything else they trust each other and in that environment, trust is a true gift.

August 13, 2010 at 5:30 PM
Janet said...

As everyone has said - the interplay between the siblings is very real. Well done!

I'm intrigued by the amber jewelry - Vince would know she would pawn it, making him even more of an asset to her and her patients. Yet, she doesn't see that? Maybe I'm reading too much into it?

Great pacing, Ann :)

August 15, 2010 at 5:42 PM
when the musics over said...

This was a really good window into this sibling relationship, which often emphasizes how people who are so different share a strong blood bond. Nice read!

August 17, 2010 at 12:12 PM
Thomma Lyn said...

Superbly done -- I love the nuances of the brother-sister relationship here.

August 21, 2010 at 8:35 PM
Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Sara's got a good head on her shoulders. But... I always knew that.

August 24, 2010 at 8:13 AM

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