Made up of small bridges that connect quiet island neighborhoods along the bay, the Venetian Causeway offers a peaceful alternative to the frenetic tourist traffic of the busier causeways that connect Downtown Miami to South Beach. The sunset looks like a fire raging on the horizon, with clouds of gray smoke connecting the sea to the night sky. Jogging past one bridge after another, Dominick Clarke is reminded of his home in the US Virgin islands as he makes his way back to the mainland after his run.
Dominick’s father is a hotelier that runs a beautiful property in the mountains of St Thomas overlooking Magens Bay. His hard work afforded his son a picturesque childhood, but he wanted more for him than what their island home could provide. With his father’s blessing, Dominick attended the University of Miami and began a new chapter for the Clarke family in the capital city of the caribbean. After receiving a masters degree in public administration, he started a climate change initiative that he hopes to turn into a national non-profit.
With the build of a basketball player, he maintains his fitness with long distance jogs and bike rides. His dreadlocks are pulled back tightly behind his shoulders, allowing him to wear large headphones during his workout. The transition from the Venetian to his apartment off Biscayne Boulevard takes him from an island vibe to a city vibe, with large condo buildings rising over old walk ups in neighborhoods as diverse as any in South Florida.
Upon entering the apartment he shared with Esthie until she decided to move out, he is ignored by Skimbleshanks, their rescue kitten that has grown into a remarkably angsty adult house cat. The fact that Esthie and Dominick saved him from a kill shelter is of no consequence to Skimbleshanks, and the fact that he doesn’t even bother to acknowledge Dominick upon entering proves it. Nonetheless, Dominick places his food out just as Esthie instructed and takes off his damp blue sneakers.
It isn’t until Dominick sits down in front of the tv with a bowl of microwaved pasta that Skimbleshanks enters the room, glancing at his caretaker and walking to the kitchen for his dinner. Dominick laughs at his ungrateful companion and grabs his phone to read a text from Xavier.
yo, your girl is moping around here wondering why you haven’t texted her. make a move already, bro! send her a goodnight text with a smiley or something.
He responds with an lol then picks up the wireless control for the gaming console that has replaced spending time with his girlfriend on weeknights. Dominick had every intention of texting Esthie on Labor Day, but after an hour of drafting and deleting messages, he decided that saying nothing would be better for their relationship than saying the wrong thing. Dominick was still trying to figure out what he had done or said to trigger their breakup, something he didn’t see coming. His control suddenly rumbles, indicating that his game is about to come to a bloody conclusion if he doesn’t start paying attention to it.
Unable to focus, Dominick turns the tv off and looks over at Skimbleshanks, who is slowly approaching the bright yellow chair next to the couch. Esthie had upholstered it with fabric from her old bedroom curtains when she moved in. At some point, Skimbleshanks had claimed the chair as his own and would viciously attack anyone who got near it. Dominick was the first person to have been attacked for sitting on it, an incident that Esthie found hilarious but failed to get on video because she was laughing so hard.
Thinking it would be the perfect icebreaker, Dominick turns on the camera of his smartphone to film Skimbleshanks’ reaction to him sitting in the chair. As soon as Skimbleshanks realizes that he’s about to go for seat, his green eyes light up with fury and he leaps toward Dominick, ready to claw his eyes out. Dominick jumps back on the couch to avoid another scar and Skimbleshanks jumps from the chair to to couch, knocking the phone onto the floor.
The video turns out to be just as funny as Dominick had hoped, so he sends it to Esthie with a message reading my man’s got no chill followed by an emoticon. He hopes that the act of putting himself in harm’s way in order to put a smile on her face will be enough to make her realize how much he’s willing to do to make her happy.