“Oh shit. Look, I’m sorry for what I said before. I didn’t know, okay. It was all a joke…Ava, I’ve got to go. Have a nice life.”
The boy had jumped off the stool and was already hurrying towards the door.
Ava caught him at the door and took his hand.
“Jax is not gonna hurt you. I know him from way back when he was twelve, just like you.”
“Ten, actually,” Jax corrected. “She was my neighbour for two years. And I don’t hurt children and I am not a member of the KKK, so you can stop trying to hide your neck.”
But Darryl didn’t look convinced. He turned to Ava with big, pleading eyes.
“Ava, please, let me go and if I may say so, you might want to reconsider your relationship with this man. He’s been to prison for drug trafficking and gun running and…”
“He paid his debt to society and now he wants to be a good citizen and you can help him with his account so he can find sponsors.”
“For moisturising cream,” Jax threw in, to show Darryl how harmless this all was.
Darryl cast him a look that conveyed he thought Jax had lost his marbles completely. Jax shrugged.
“What? It pays, man!”
“And that’s why my mum is right when she tells me she insists on me going to college,” Darryl grumbled but held up the phone to take some pictures of Jax, at last convinced that Jax wasn’t about to kill him in cold blood. “Okay, we’ll do some of those trendy videos now.”
“Sure, what do you want me to do?” Jax asked.
“Smile into the camera,” Darryl instructed.
“And then?” Jax asked.
“Just smile,” Darryl repeated.
“And after that?” Jax insisted.
“Then I’ll shoot another video,” Darryl pressed between painfully clenched teeth, trying to be patient with this hulk of a man who had years of technological advancement to catch up to.
“You want to shoot an entire video of me just smiling?” Jax asked for confirmation.
Darryl only looked at Ava.
“They are just fifteen-second clips,” Ava volunteered.
“You want me to smile for fifteen seconds?” Jax asked one more time to ensure he had understood this correctly.
“Yes,” Darryl hissed, trying to smile and failing miserably. “I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear.”
His voice was dripping with sarcasm. Jax exposed his teeth and Darryl jumped back with fright.
“Woah, you got rabies?”
“I’m fucking smiling, man!” Jax near-shouted.