by Michael Morris
My brother was just sitting over in the corner of the floor by the front door. He had a stain on the front of his blue suit jacket from where I threw the beer at him. For the first time in my life, he was shutting the hell up. I guess I surprised him. He just sat there looking at me like was just too damned stunned to know what to say.
“So if you don’t mind, prick face, I’m going to try and watch the rest of my show.” And I did. I figured he’d leave. I didn’t care.
See, I was already having a pretty shitty day when he showed up, in the middle of my show, to “check on me.” He’s always doing that. Spending his lunch hour coming home, prying in my business.
When Mama’s here, she makes him a sandwich and they talk in the kitchen for a while before he gives me a round of Twenty Questions. When Mama’s not here, he does Twenty Questions while he makes his own sandwich. That way he can give me a sermon before he leaves. Mama was gone to her old ladies Bible study and I wasn’t feeling up to his shit so when he got here and started in on me, I shut his ass up with the beer bottle.
On the commercial, I look in the corner. I thought if Mama sees that bottle or the glass on the floor, she’ll give me hell. But I didn’t see it. I just saw my brother, like a fucking dog, against the wall. “Why don’t you go on?” I said, but he just sat there. Didn’t even look at me. The prick. “Suit yourself, asshole,” I said, and went back to my program.
Mama woke me up at nine. Said I couldn’t sleep all day. I told her I was sick.
“You’ve got a hangover,” she said. “It ain’t the same thing.”
“No, Ma, I’m really sick,” I said. “I’ve been throwing up all night.”
“You were drinking all night. You threw up once at three in the morning when you came stumblin’ in.”
She said some more, I guess, but I fell back asleep. A few minutes later, she was after me again.
“It is ten-thirty, mister. Get out of that bed and get in the shower. If you have nothing to do today, I have errands to run.” Her voice pierced my head like the jagged edge of a bottle.
“So? Run your errands. Lemme alone,” I told her. I sat up a little and noticed she was wearing one of those blue dresses too nice for anything but church and she had on make up and I could smell her old woman perfume. It all gave me a fucking headache.
“So I have to go to the store. I can’t lift all the bags by myself.”
“I told you woman. I’m sick.”
“Get up!” she yelled. Then she left the room. Some of the smell of her perfume left with her, but a lot stayed. I wanted to barf, and I wanted to light a cigarette to get rid of the smell, but she’d just bitch some more.
I took a long piss and went into the kitchen and got a beer. I was gonna sit at the kitchen table to drink it, but then I remembered I wanted a cigarette, so I went in the garage. It was nice and dark in there and I leaned against Dad’s old workbench – mine since he died. I took a huge swallow of beer, and enjoyed my smoke. I turned on the radio and drifted along with an old country tune.
My brother had actually fallen asleep. The beer stain was bigger. “You better wake your ass up and get back to work,” I said. Then I got up to get another beer. I should have thrown an empty bottle and not wasted the beer I had. But he pissed me off and I wasn’t thinking straight.
‘Course I’d forgotten that we were out of beer.
Mom found me in the garage. She turned on the light and said, “Do you have to drink so early?”
The phlegm in my throat was just about gone and my headache was on the edge of disappearing when she said that. The headache came back, shooting through my skull. I was gonna tell her to go to hell, but knowing she wouldn’t, I said instead, “What do you want?” My beer was empty and I was walking to the kitchen to get another one when I said this.
“I want you to take a shower, get dressed, and drive me to the store,” she whined.
“I don’t need a shower to take you to the store,” I said.
She said, “I’m not having you in the store looking like that, smelling like a brewery.”
“I’ll just wait in the car like a good house slave. That make ya happy, Mama?”
“What would make me happy…” she started to say, but then stopped. She made her prissy face tight and then said, “Never mind. I’ll go by myself.”
I reached in the refrigerator and took out a brew. Only five left. I yelled to her, “Get some fucking beer.”
I’d been looking through the want ads when Walker: Texas Ranger came on. It’s re-runs but I don’t care. That’s a great show. Shouldn’t have went off the air. Besides, you see something new every time you watch it. My brother says that about books, but I wouldn’t know.
The commercial came on and one of the bottles fell on the paper. A trickle of beer came out and got the ads wet. I didn’t care. Didn’t have any circled anyway.
Mama was talking again. “Since I had to wait all morning for you to get up, I’ll have to do my shopping after my Bible study.” She goes to this Lunch and Bible study every Wednesday where she and a dozen other old biddies sit around nibbling cheese sandwiches and braggin’ ‘bout their kids that have jobs and bitchin’ about them that don’t.
I didn’t care. Just wanted her to finish her speech and get the hell out. “Since you can’t have the decency to shower, I’ll go the store myself.”
I coughed. “Ain’t my fault. I’m sick, Mama.”
“Fine,” she said. “Maybe you’ll feel up to helping me get the groceries out when I get home.” She started out the door, then said, “When your brother comes for lunch, tell him I made him a sandwich. It’s in the fridge.”
“Hey, dumb fuck,” I said. “Forgot to tell you. Mama left a sandwich in the fridge for ya.” I was starting to feel a little sorry for him. Maybe I hurt him.
Nothing. I tossed an empty at him to wake him up. It hit the wall behind him and shattered. Little shit didn’t even flinch.
“Fine. I’ll eat it myself,” I said.
I love the way Walker kicks bad guys in the head. Big roundhouse kicks the other guy don’t see coming. He’d just done it to the third guy when I realized someone was knocking on the door. I got up and the knocking kept going and I said, “Alright, damn it. I’m coming!”
I looked out the peephole and saw my brother’s stupid ugly face. “Who is it?” I said in a funny, girly voice.
“Open the damn door!” he roared.
I turned the deadbolt and opened the door. “Geesh, you’re a pussy! This way your highness.” And he walked past me in the room.
“Pussy? Better that than a lazy, stupid shit for brains,” he said. So clever.
“Be careful, dumb fuck,” I told him. “Mama don’t like that sort of talk.” Then I laughed at the sour face he was making. He started to give me another smartass remark I might have to smack him for. But then he noticed his gun on the coffee table.
See, after Mama left, I remember I owed this guy at this strip joint called Dan’s Dollhouse some money. Figured I’d pawn my twenty-two and pay the guy back and maybe get some Jim Bean. See, Mama won’t allow no hard liquor in the house. I gotta fight her a couple times a year just to put beer in the fridge.
So I went to my room and pulled the case from under the bed. I opened it up and the gun wasn’t there. I looked in my end table drawer and my Glock was missing too.
I knew my brother had hidden my guns. Or stolen them. So I went to his room and looked for them. I couldn’t find anything ‘cept his pussy twenty-five. I thought, “I’ll teach the little shit.” Figured I’d sell his gun and see how he liked it.
I opened the gun and from lookin’ at it, I figured he’d never miss it. Never cleans the damn thing. Never loads it either. Don’t know why he even keeps it ‘cept it was Dad’s and Dad put it in the will to the little bastard. Should a given it to me so it would get some use. Anyway, I took it in the living room and cleaned it on the coffee table while I watched The Price Is Right.
“What are you doing with my gun?” my brother wanted to know.
I looked at it on the table with all the other stuff and said, “Cleaned it for you. I was bored and you never take care of that weapon, so I figured it needed cleanin’. It did too. You’re fucking welcome.”
His face got red and his eye got this tic he always gets when he is pissed off and tryin’ to keep from losing it. His keys were jingling in his hand when he pointed at the gun and said, “You were gonna sell it, weren’t you?”
“What?” I said. I really don’t know where he gets shit like this.
“You sold all your guns for booze and bimbos, so now you start stealin’ my stuff. Asshole.”
“Watch it brother,” I said to him.
Then I thought, Johnny – that guy I was thinkin’ on selling the gun to –would want a demonstration. And he bein’ a cheapskate, he would not waste his own bullets findin’ out if the gun could fire. So I went back to my brother’s room and got some ammo and loaded it up.
“Don’t you go makin’ accusations now. You are just talking like an idiot.” I was getting mad. He couldn’t just ‘preciate me doing him a favor. Always suspecting me of something.
“Accusations?” He was screaming like a woman now. I was thinkin’ ‘bout prissy little women on TV that go to pieces after they catch their husbands finally getting decent lay. On the soap operas these chicks shriek awhile and then go off. But he just kept on going. I don’t know what all he said, but it was probably about me not getting a job and working in a office like him and drinking too much and causing Mama all that pain.
“Now hold on, mister,” I said right to his stupid face. “That’s all between Mama and me. You just keep your business to yourself.”
And then he made his worst mistake.
I finished loading the gun just when The Price Is Right went off. I was thinking that I hoped Johnny would give me some decent money for this pussy gun when Walker started. I figured to put everything up on the commercial. Only I think I forgot.
My brother has these big thick keys and one of these key rings with a little metal stick on it. It’s a piece of shit for as I’m concerned, but Mr. Fashion has to keep up with the Joneses, eh? Thing is, the asshole yells something about ‘bout Mama and his business and chunks his keys hard as he can. Didn’t think it could be too hard ‘cause he’s such a pussy and he throws like a fucking girl. But I heard this clink sound.
I figured he broke the glass on the top of the coffee table so I ran over to look at it. It was okay, but when I saw his keys on the floor, they were right by the bottle of beer he clipped. There was some still in it, but the top was broke off and I couldn’t drink any without cutting my face.
I remembered that my brother would be back at lunchtime. I didn’t want to miss my show, so I got up and turned the dead bolt.
Next commercial I went to the fridge. “Damn,” I said when I got out the last beer. “Mama better come home soon.”
“How am I ‘spose to drink this, you stupid shit?” I told him. “That’s my last fucking beer.”
“I don’t give a damn,” he said. “Give me my keys and put my gun up,” he said. Then he started for me.
There was a knock at the door. I didn’t care. Mama would honk. My brother could go to hell.
I picked up the gun and he stopped. Stupid bitch thought I’d shoot him. He backed up against the wall in the corner. “Just give me my keys and I’ll go.” He said it real slow like he didn’t want me to see he was scared.
I walked toward him watching his face go white. When I got right up on him I put my face right in his. He made this wince like he smelled something bad. Maybe he said I smelled bad. I don’t know.
“I’ll give you something alright.” I dropped the gun and put the broken bottle in my right hand. I shook it in his face. “You owe me a beer!” I yelled. Then I punched him in the gut, just under the ribs. I heard him shit his pants and his eyes were big and he made a whoosh sound. “You owe me,” I said and held the punch like I’d push it out his back. Then he started making a gurgle sound and he sat down.
He was holding the beer bottle. Why did he wanna take that away from me and not the gun? Stupid fuck.
I heard a commercial and realized I’d missed the last of Walker. “Stupid fuck, you see what you did?” But he just held the bottle and looked at me like he was too damned stunned to talk. I got the gun and put it on the coffee table. Then I went looking for my smokes.
Don’t remember when I lit up. Mama don’t allow smokin’ in the house. But there I was with a cigarette in my hand. I looked at it and said, “What the fuck?” and took a drag. Then I yelled at my brother without looking: “What are you gonna do ‘bout it? Tell Mama? Go ahead. Fuck her and fuck you too. I just might be leaving this shithole anyway.” I thought he might have said something so I said, “So’s your old lady.”
Musta got sleepy ‘cause next thing I know I was not in the living room. Don’t know how I got there, but there was this stripper from Dan’s and she was in one of the rooms where they do the private lap dances. And she was giving me the business and I was watching her titties jiggle and she was squirming in my lap.
I tried to touch her tits and she said no. Then I said, “I bet this would help” and I pulled a twenty from my shirt pocket. She made a good smile and put my hands right on her. I was so fucking happy.
I started thinking I’d give her some more of my brother’s money and let her blow me. I think she had the same idea, ‘cause she started to talk. Only what came out of her mouth sounded like a honk.
Don’t know how long she’d been there, but I woke up and realized Mama was home and wanting me to get the groceries. I didn’t care. Let my brother Mr. Perfect help her I figured.
“Go help Mama with the groceries,” I said. “I’m sick.”
The stripper was back. She had red hair and was going down on me something fierce. My dick was on fire. Thought I could live a long time with a bitch that can do that.
I took a sip of my beer and I guess I spilled some ‘cause then the stripper started screaming. Looked right at me and screamed.
“Oh my God!” Mama was saying over and over, screaming louder each time she said it. I opened my eyes and then started hitting my leg ‘cause the cigarette had burned a hole in my pants and my underwear was smoking.
I got it out and Mama stopped yelling a minute. She was patting my brother’s cheek and crying. She had taken the bottle away from him and was whimpering.
“Hey!” I said. “I’ve got a crisis over here.” I couldn’t believe she was more concerned about my dumb ass brother than me, but that was just like her.
“What did you do? What did you do?” She said it over and over getting louder. My fucking head hurt like hell. Then she was just screaming and screaming and I didn’t think she’d ever shut the hell up.
The gun went off. I don’t know how. But it shut her up. Probably I fired in the ceiling and the noise quieted her. She was laying on my brother, a stain on her blue dress. Why did they both wear blue all the time? I thought.
I wondered if Mama got the stain drinking coffee with her old hag friends. Then I thought I could use a beer. I went out to the car to see if she had remembered.
She didn’t of course. No beer. No smokes. She got my brother’s favorite soda. Him she’ll remember.
Even though I was sick, I put all the groceries away. Can’t say I don’t pull my own weight around the house. Then I took my brother’s billfold out from the back of his pants and took his cash. Dumb fuck idiot didn’t even wake up when I did it.
I was almost to Dan’s Dollhouse, thinking about the afternoon happy hour, when I remembered I’d left the TV on and I didn’t know where I’d left the gun. That’s the sort of little thing Mama jumps my shit for so I knew I’d catch some hell.
Then I thought about Mama and my brother layin’ in front of the door like I wasn’t there at all. Like their problems are more important than anybody else’s. And I said, “Fuck it. Let them sort it all out.” And I mashed my foot hard on the gas pedal.
I didn’t get any sleep all fucking night. Was coughing up a lung and barfing up my toes. When I finally crashed I was having a crazy dream about this redhead from Dan’s. Then Mama had to wake me up with her yelling.
Michael Neal Morris has published short stories, poems, and essays in a number of print and online venues. His most recent books are naked and Recital Notes, Volume I. Collections of his work are listed at Smashwords and Amazon. He lives with his family just outside the Dallas area and teaches at Eastfield College.
Monk Notes: http://mnmwrite.blogspot.com/
Walking It Off: http://mnmwalking.blogspot.com/
This Blue Monk: http://bluemonkwrites.tumblr.com/