September 10th, 2009
Had we been twins, my brother and I would have fought in our mother’s womb to see who would emerge first. As it was, I was older by a year and a half. He was fire; I was ice. He woke up angry and, though the anger faded, it lurked just behind his taciturn, scowling visage and seemed ready to explode at any moment. It was as though someone did a search around the universe, found the one individual who was different from me in every possible way, and made him my brother.
He had been away, working on some oil fields in Nevada. Suddenly he reappeared–bigger, stronger, brooding ever more deeply. Heavy steps made the stairs shake. He never seemed to remove his Red Wing work boots, but slept with them on. The room became filled with clothing piled in heaps. A slip of orange paper protruded from one of my desk drawers. It was my Driver’s License, which I had not seen for months. “Great!” I smiled. Then I began to wonder.
Downstairs, Marcus was sitting in the easy chair, plucking his guitar. “Did you put this back in my drawer?” I stood behind the chair, afraid to face him.
“Yeah,” he said, still strumming, not looking up. “It was under your bed.”
“Oh, well, thanks.” I went upstairs and stared at it. It had been deeply folded, as though someone wanted to make it as small as possible. A few grains of sand clung to the folds.
I stomped downstairs heavily but passed him and went into the kitchen. I pretended to pour myself a glass of water. “Did you take it?” I asked finally.
“What would I want it for?” The plucking went on, uninterrupted.
As I stomped back upstairs I thought about the eighteen moving violations he had on his license already. Then I noticed the blob of ABC gum he had left on my desk. I threw it against the wall on his side of the room. I picked up his guitar case and flung it across the room. “Son of a bitch!” I yelled. “What did he come home for anyway? Sits around here all day and eats. Look at this mess!”
By the time our mother came home I had the stereo up loud. “I’ll find some socks for you,” I heard her say to him. He had been sitting downstairs for more than an hour without socks. She came up stairs and opened my dresser drawer. Only then did she notice me.
“That’s it, get more socks for him, out of my clothes drawer,” I growled. “You’re just as bad as he is.”
“What’s the matter with him?” she said to my brother, who had come upstairs as well.
“I don’t know. I find his Driver’s License and he bitches at me for it.”
I turned down my friend Chip, who called wanting to go to a movie. The year Star Wars came out, we had seen 75 movies. I tried to avoid my Dad, but it was difficult to avoid anyone in that tiny house.
“Want to go to Zayre’s?” he asked.
I wanted to be in my head, where I believed I could still communicate with the Rootweavers. I continued to send thoughts to my new friend Farkus. But no words came back to me. I knew I couldn’t possibly tell anyone else about what I had seen beneath the earth. No one would believe it. I wanted to prepare for school, for college, for my life away from this town, and for the column I would write that week. But that night, once again, I found myself unable to sleep. My body was as restless as my spirit. I was no longer here in this house and town where I grew up, but in some new in between place, in the bit of prairie squeezed between the town and the industrial park, destined for relocation.