(Art by Dana Schutz)

I haven’t prayed since my brother…When he got hurt…Put in the hospital. I had a dream I killed the people who put him there. I even prayed about getting away with it. It was one of those paralyzing dreams, requiring surrender to move on, that’s what I remembered yelling. ‘I SURRENDER.’ I fell into a hole I never climbed out of. I have accepted that. That’s why I understand sadness, chaos. There are some things you must accept in this life before you are able to commit a rewarding sin. It’s just like we’re taught happened in those old religious sacrifices, from that book the world gets all those rules from. Someone or something, a portion or a whole of us all has to die to be accepted into that kingdom.

This is a confession: It is possible to help put misery away. Bury it like a secret. That word came from a root meaning se-cript; (see-cript), meaning to see dark secrets, to keep them, hide them, like that person who took the fall for you; whose visitations you have never missed out of loyalty-that same loyalty that pushes you apart after they see the life they’ve missed, being lived in your face, hearing happiness in your voice.

They made me take a destructive vs. addictive personality test, at one of those places that take a piece of your life for money.

Have you ever thought about hurting yourself or others? Was the first question.

-What kind of question is that. Who hasn’t? Right? Of course, I answered no. I was in some strange building, surrounded by strangers with watchful eyes crawling over my body like a spider when you sleep. Searching for a place to bite and weave a trap.

Have you ever felt or done something destructive to yourself or someone else? Say or do something hurtful to my family and you’ll soon find out!

-My answer? Of course not. I remembered answering these same questions on a minimum wage application and when I was appealing for my freedom. Was this a test to figure out family traits? Those answers depend on perspective, of the questioner.

Truth is just as hurtful as a lie. I learned to find convenience in both.

I live by a rule. One I’m shocked the world either no longer believes in or seems to ignore; nobody is as nice as they seem. This rule allowed me to do anything for my family. When my brother got home, I wanted to, NO- I needed to take away his pain.

When my brother went away, it changed me, it was supposed to. But deep down, I was happy to be free. That dark sad happiness which makes a person wish a loved one, struggling to overcome personal misery would die so you both could be at peace. My change was not immediate. I stalked the district attorney and judge tandem responsible for giving his life to prison. I found out where their kids went to school, where their spouses worked, the cars they drove.

It was amazing to see; fire dancing, clearing the way, meeting my reflection, morphing, transforming. Ahhh. I had no idea how erotic it was watching someone fight for their life.

None of that mattered to my brother when he came home. He also changed. Didn’t enjoy strip clubs, natural or artificially enhanced freaky chicks. I didn’t want to think about… We’ve all heard the stories about prison. My brother was tough, strong, but… He wouldn’t talk about it.

He was home for two years before I saw him smile. During the funeral for a friend. I saw it. A smile that could turn a life upside down.

We got home, I turned on the game, he stared at the wall. I guess he couldn’t get past the one in his head. I learned not to interrupt, but I never felt uncomfortable around him until now.

“ Bro! Were you smiling at the funeral?”

He stood up. “If you listen, life teaches you to remember everything good and bad. You learn to find the pleasure in both.” That was all he said.

Damn… I missed being able to make him smile. That’s all I wanted. He was my older brother. I just wanted to make him happy again, the way we used to be.

I wonder if he was smiling when he woke up in the morning. As he looked into my cold lifeless eyes, or at my funeral.

I love you Bro. I hope… Please be happy.

-AM

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