Let­ters from My Broth­ers


Dear Shirley, It’s been a long time. I’ve thought about you a lot over the past twenty-five years. About our last phone call. I asked you if you were mad at me. You said, “No, it’s not you.” But then I never heard from you again. Screwed-up thing to do. But I get it now. Mom’s on melt­down. Same time ev­ery year. Dad pre­tends he doesn’t re­mem­ber. I do. So, yeah, Happy Birth­day. I saw you driv­ing once, on the main drag down­town. God, that must have been eigh­teen years ago. I flew up be­hind you, al­most rammed your bumper. For a split-sec­ond, our eyes locked. You in your rear-view mir­ror. A ca­sual glance at first. Then shock. Maybe fear. The light turned green, and you pulled away. Thought about blast­ing my horn, mak­ing you pull over. I wanted to see you shake. I was still an­gry then. You dropped a bomb and then fucked off, leav­ing us all to deal with it. I was so scared, Shirl. What you said to me that day. Doc had to put me on meds for anxiety and de­pres­sion. I was at home, in the garage, work­ing on my Rod. You caught me off guard. You never just show up, and never alone. I said I didn’t know about Dad abusing you. I said I didn’t re­mem­ber stuff, about us. Then you brought up Laura, too. Zero to sixty, Shirl. No ’chutes. No sand traps. I couldn’t deal with it. You know what they do to peo­ple like that? A guy in the car club got ac­cused of mo­lest­ing his kid. They kicked him out. The look in their eyes. Ha­tred. Dis­gust. That guy’s fucked. His life is over. Dad told me you went to see him, too. Said he told you he’d rather drive off a cliff than “talk” to some­one about it. You wanted him to see a coun­sel­lor? He was pretty wasted that day. Re­mem­ber when we worked at the Op­ti­cal, and we’d go to their house for lunch ev­ery week? Barb’s red kitchen? Red walls, red shelves, red or­na­ments, red teapot. Dad even painted the fuck­ing ceil­ing red. They’re not there any­more. Moved to one of those fancy gated places af­ter Barb got sick.

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