It was two weeks to the day from the last time I saw him that Alex showed up. Maybe I should have been happy to see him after the last time, but all I could feel was fightin’ mad.
“You have a lot of nerve comin’ round here like this!” I yelled, holding myself so still when all I really wanted to do was knock that happy-go-lucky grin off his face. “What do you have to smile about?”
The one thing about Alex that I’ve always hated is that you can’t push him into a fight. When we were younger, I would poke him over and over and over again, just to see if I could make him lose his temper. Truth be told, I just wanted to get him in trouble.
I was always in trouble ‘cause I couldn’t sit still. So every now and then I wanted to see Alex get a spanking or at least get yelled at. I figured if I poked him enough, sooner or later he’d haul back and smack me—that’s what I would have done if things were reversed.
But he never did. At least, I don’t remember him ever hittin’ me. He was always the best big brother in the world.
Right this minute though, I didn’t really wanna remember that. I wanted to smack him, I wanted to hit him so much my hands were flexin’ like they were havin’ fits.
“Damn it Alex, I could really kick your ass right now!”
He just kept on smilin’ at me, looking off a little to the right as though my words didn’t mean a thing. I glanced over to see what he was lookin’ at and there was nothing there really. Just the sea, like always. It was low tide and you could see sea weed clinging to the uncovered legs of the steel pier.
When we were kids, mom used to bring us here with a picnic lunch. Alex didn’t mind running under the pier and lookin’ for seashells but I used to hate the sand. Mom always said she’d spent half an hour getting us ready to go down the pier and then, it never failed we’d leave to go home 10 minutes later.
Alex leaned down and picked up a seashell. It was a small grey and white conch shell, the kind those little hermit crabs like to live in. “You should give this to Christian,” he said, his voice husky like he hadn’t used it in a while. He held the shell out to me and it looked like a thimble in his big palm.
“Why don’t YOU give it Christian? Oh yeah, I forgot… you can’t… you damn asshole…”
It was like my hand had a mind of it’s own, I swear. I pulled back and let loose the fastest jab I’d ever made.
It should have connected hard with his jaw. He saw it coming and he didn’t even brace for impact. Didn’t flinch one goddam bit. My fist just seemed to glance right off him, like he wasn’t even there. And I’ll be damned if he didn’t just keep smiling at me.
“Fuck you Alex! You got some nerve, you just really got some nerve! What am I supposed to say to Christian? To mom?”
“What am I supposed to do?” And that’s when it hit me so hard, I couldn’t stand, couldn’t do anything but drop to the sand, except it wasn’t sand anymore, but the hardwoods in my apartment.
And I was reliving that day again, holding the phone and hearing my mom’s weak, trembling voice say “baby, Alex is gone. He died in the hospital.”
That’s when I wake up, just like every other night this last two weeks. And I could kick myself because I was with my brother and yelling at him, when all I really want to do is give him a big hug, the kind we stopped sharing when I hit puberty and chasing tail became the beginning and end of my world.
For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Kevin Wilkes challenged me with “write a story with a conflict between two brothers” and I challenged The Drama Mama with “blame it on the Samba”. Here’s my offering, squeaking in just before the deadline.