A brother’s, a brother’s, a brother. That’s what I always say. Can’t change that. Not even Jerry can change that, although I suspect he might want to now, what with me and everything that happened with the court. Still, when I get a call from him asking to come see me now that I’m out, I’m glad, even if he is only doing it cause he feels guilty about not visiting me before. I tell him he’s my brother, I’d be glad to have him.
We grew up knowing how to respect women. That may not seem like much now, but back then it was. Back then if you slapped a girl on her ass and told her she was pretty, it was considered a compliment. Of course, she had to be a certain type of girl, but still. The point was we didn’t act like that, Jerry and me. We had a sister and a mother, and we never let anyone touch them either. More important, we had a dad, and he would have knocked us into the next country if we even thought of mistreating a woman. We always stuck by each other, our family—my sister Lily, my brother Jerry, and me. We’d fight sometimes, but our mom wouldn’t let that last for long. She’d make us give each other a hug and kiss right away, just to prove we really did love each other.
Lily’s pretty much gone now, we only see her at family reunions. She married a nice guy, I guess, an insurance salesman. They’ve got three kids, and the oldest girl is nearly as pretty as Lily was. Mom and Dad are dead, both from cancer. Mom was fifteen years younger than Dad when they married, and she was beautiful. She used to be a dancer, and when we were little she could kick her leg so high that it would touch the top of a doorframe.
Jerry’s coming up here tonight, driving in from Missouri. He’s got two girls, but I haven’t seen them in a few years. Jerry’s changed a lot from when we were younger. He used to be a railroader like me, lived here in Nebraska. But then he met his wife, and she convinced him to go back to school. Now he’s a phys ed teacher at a high school in Kansas. Coaches football sometimes too. Jerry always did like to be real tough. It’s different now though; people are paying him to act mean. The cut off tees he wears are for respect, not because he’d worked so hard he pitted out the sleeves.
I sit outside on the trailer steps to wait for them and catch myself picking at the plastic grass that covers my porch steps. The green of it looks ugly against the darker color of the real grass in the yard, but peeling it away just leaves big rust-colored holes of cement. I wanted P.J. to be here, but theres been some problems lately. Gloria hated me in the end, just enjoyed the railroader’s salary. And now she’s got that girl of hers to turn against me too. Still, I’m P.J.’s father so she can’t keep me away from him entirely.
That fence across the yard needs fixed soon. There’s getting to be a pretty big hole dug out from underneath it, and I don’t need anyone to tell me that that Doberman is the next thing through. The owner says he’s real gentle, but his barking sure doesn’t sound like it. Jerry’s new house wouldn’t have a hole in the fence. I went out there once a few years before the mess and it was nice. Big windows that looked out over a row of green yards behind it and a small fence that kept their collie locked in.