It took a few minutes for the line to clear out. Then Dominic came over to us. Before he could say anything, Laura said, “Dominic, I was wrong yesterday. I’m sorry. You’re one of my best friends and even if I don’t like what you’re doing, I’m still here for you.”
Dominic just looked at her for a minute, then hugged her. “That means more than you know, kid. Thank you.”
“We want to help you,” Laura said.
Dominic glanced at me. “Really?”
I shrugged. “If you want help. What’s going on with your employee over there?”
“She didn’t even notice how angry you were,” Laura added. “It’s like she’s used to it.”
“She probably is.” Dominic sighed. “She’s lasted longer than any of my other employees. I don’t exactly like being a jackass but I can’t help snapping sometimes.”
“Stress.” Laura touched his arm. “Dominic, you’re trying to do too much. Do you even know how you’re making yourself feel?”
“No, but I know how you’re trying to make me feel. Thanks for the thought, kid, but don’t waste your time. Even if my emotions go away, the problems causing them won’t.”
“That doesn’t make it a waste of time.”
“You still like to argue, don’t you.”
Laura grinned. “With you, always.”
“Yeah, well, like I said, don’t waste your time. I appreciate the thought, but I don’t need help from either of you. I’m getting everything under control. I can handle it.”
“No, Dom, you can’t,” I said.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Zeke. Look. I have a store to run. Laura, thank you for apologizing, not that I think you really owed me one. I hated thinking that our friendship was over; you’re really important to me. But I don’t need help. If I do, I’ll let you know.”
“Dominic-” Laura began.
Let it go, Clyde advised. You can’t force him to accept help he doesn’t believe he needs. That will only make him more resistant to accepting it when the need becomes apparent.
Laura took a deep breath. “Just remember we’re here for you, Dom. No matter what.”
“Thanks, kid.” He glanced toward the counter, where the high school kid was having trouble scanning a movie. “I’d better get over there. She’s a good worker but not always so good at working, if you know what I mean.”
“Dominic, what did you do yesterday morning?” Laura asked.
He looked away. “I think you already know.”
Laura nodded. “I understand why you did it, I think. And we’re still your friends. Think about it, Dominic. Think about getting help from people who actually care about you instead of an evil being who couldn’t care less as long as it gets what it wants.”
“I’ll keep it in mind, Laura.” He gave her another hug. “Come see me again, okay?”
“Dominic, take care of yourself,” I said. “And like Laura said, let us know if you need us.”
“Yeah. See you later.” He went back to the counter but watched us as we left the store.