I love my brother. I really do. I love my brother so much, that I agreed to go on a 4-day camping trip with him in Big Bend National Park. Just me and him. Just the two of us. Just the siblings that 20 years ago almost killed each other over the last bowl of Lucky Charms. (And when I say “almost” I mean, I think I had a butcher knife and I think he had some sort of makeshift handsaw.)
Here’s another thing about my brother. For some reason, and I plan to examine this in therapy, with no other person am I allowed to be such an ass hole. (And when I say “allowed” what I mean it’s a bit of an occurrence that he didn’t abandon me in the West Texas desert with a First Aid Kit.)
My parents divorced when I was in 7th grade and we were split up. My brother was Junior in high school at the time. I went with my dad and my brother stayed with my mom. So our relationship has been eternally frozen in this stage where he is about to become an adult, and I’m about to-about to become an adult.
It took about 2.7 miles into the Big Bend trip…his behavior became unacceptable.
I bought a 6-pack of pre-packaged chocolate donuts and I told my brother I would split it with him. I happened to notice that he ate his three fairly quickly, not incredibly quickly just faster than I ate mine. He didn’t touch my three but I still said “Happy?” before taking a sip of my coffee and rolling my eyes.
My brother drove the first entire day, and at a random rest stop, I said “Well, I guess you’re gonna drive again.” He said “Do you want to drive?” and I said “No!” while grabbing my knees really hard. He said “If you want to drive just say so.” I said “Yes, I want to drive!” He said “That’s all you had to say.” I said “I’m not sure I actually ever really liked you.”
I broke out the 2nd pack of Beef Jerkey we had bought for the trip. We went through the entire pack rather quickly and then there was this big, motherfucker of a hunk of Beef Jerkey that could have easily fed a family of four for a couple of days. I said something like “I’m not gonna bust into this piece.” And then my brother said to me “I’ll take it.”
I could have killed him. I could have shoved my fist through his neck in that moment. He’ll take it? Oh, he’ll take it alright. We bought this pack of beef jerkey together you piece of shit, and let me tell you something…it was not cheap. To my estimation, I was holding like $2.14 in my hands. (I work by the hour and he has a cushy job at Apple by the way, where he gets like discounts on IPads and a 401K.) And now he’s gonna just sit there on his side of MY FUCKING RENTED CAR and eat the last of it. Over my dead body.
I started ripping into the piece, gripping both sides of the dried meat in clawed fists. I ripped it right down the center and then handed this sonofabitch his sweaty, crumpled half. He took the soggy beef in his hands and made the grave mistake of saying “Thanks for putting your hands all over my beef jerkey.”
“I’ll fucking kill you in your sleep.”
We stopped at a gas station in Marfa the last night of the trip. We picked up cigarettes for me and an ice cream bar for my brother. As soon as he put his ice cream bar on the counter, (next to my pack of Marlboro Lights) I said “That’s disgusting!” My brother paid for both. I must have been looking out the window or something. I was distracted and I think my brother just touched my arm to hand me my ciggies when I decked him.
Okay, I didn’t knock him out but I hit him and I hit him hard. Enough for him to say “Oww!” and recoil in fear. I turned into Tony Soprano for a second. “Don’t you ever touch me again, do you understand that? Because if you don’t understand that, we are going to have a serious problem here. I’ve gone a little nutzo over a lot less, are you gettin’ this friend?”
NOTE: Kevin never once complained about my smoking, that night I binge drank Corona’s by myself while watching Oprah YouTube clips at top volume outside our hotel room, or that morning when I slammed several doors several times because I couldn’t get a cup of coffee.
Maybe this entry is just an apology to my brother, whom I do love. (See above picture.) We were once able to share a bath without anticipating blood shed. But currently, he is the space where I am forgiven for being the worst version of myself. Where I just get to be 11 again and he just gets to be the person who doesn’t actually kill me. There is no one else in my current life who I can hit in public. (Well…I can but there will be a two week “talk-out” involving lists.) And he doesn’t ask for an explanation. He just takes the soiled beef jerky and eats it. He just drives around from gas station to gas station until I get a cup of coffee. And at the end of a long day, he just lets me drive.