Oh My Blood, My Blood (Story #40)

I had Alex for the day. My ex-wife needed to go to counseling with my replacement.  She’s been having a hard time with Ty lately, not that I care.  I actually wish her well.  And I was glad to see Alex an extra day.  I know he doesn’t get along with Ty, which is hard for me because I can’t do anything about it.  I guess that makes me overcompensate when I see him.  It’s why I made the mistake of asking Alex what he wanted to do—anything he wanted, I told him.  That’s when he said he wanted to see my younger brother, Ronny.

Joni wouldn’t ever take him there. She never liked Ron.  He’s blood to me, so I don’t have a choice. Still, I try to avoid his house when possible.  The place makes me uneasy, and whenever I go there with Alex, it’s worse.  For a kid, Ronny’s giant man-cave with its pool table and arcade games instead of furniture is fun.  But for me, it’s ridiculous in a way that I could never get Alex to see, though I always find myself wanting to. The result: I’m the rigid out-of-touch adult while Ronny is the cool uncle.

The proof of this came early.  As soon as Ronny opened the door, Alex started in on an elaborate handshake they’d worked out on some other visit.

“Really cool you guys came when you did,” Ronny said, stopping us in the front room.

“I told you we’d be here at three, Ron.”

“Yeah. Right. You guys want a drink?  You want a beer, little man?”

“Uh, can I get a coke?” Alex asked, confused by Ronny’s serious expression.

“You don’t have to ask,” Ronny said, his face softening into the same easy smile that had made him rich years before.  I wanted to sit down.  Anythng but stand around in all that space and all that quiet.

“How about you, J?  You want a beer?”

I was going to remind Ronny yet again that I’d given up drinking, but Alex came running back excited about something he’d seen.  “What’s in the cage, Ronny?”

“That’s what I wanted to show you guys.”

Ronny led us down a long hallway.  He walked quickly through the house out towards the back yard, which was bigger than my whole place.

“I thought you were going to give that up,” I said, pointing at an ashtray on the table next to something that looked like a remote.

“I’m in the process.”

I looked at Alex, who was ignoring us.  He was focused on something outside.

“What’s that?” He asked.

Off in the corner was a stake jutting out of the ground and an animal that looked like a wolf was chained to it.

“A project,” Ronny said.

“What kind of project?” Alex asked.

“You know those shows on TV about animals.  They always look so cool when they’re on the hunt.  I thought it’d be cool if I could see that in person.”

I pulled Alex back from where he was standing and put myself between him and Ronny, as if Ronny were the dangerous animal and not that thing in the corner of the yard.

“You know how cheap rabbits are?”  Ronnie asked, but it took me a second to figure out what one thing had to do with the other.

“Are you fucking nuts?” I said, not realizing I’d cursed until Alex gave me a look.  “We’re leaving.  Alex, come on.”

“I want to stay.”

“Looks like little man is curious.  Come on, J, it’ll be fun.”

“I don’t want to see that.”

“Don’t be so uptight.  They’re just bunnies.  There’s millions of them.” Ronnie went running back into the kitchen and brought out a cage with two bunnies huddled inside. He opened the glass door and let the bunnies out onto the cement and then closed the door behind him.  They didn’t run away like I thought they would.  The big wolf-dog whatever it was in the corner didn’t react, either.  He was still splayed out with his muzzle plastered to the cement.

“You don’t want to see this, Alex.  It’s not cool.”  I said, even though I could tell he wasn’t listening.

“Show time,” Ronnie said, picking the remote off the table.  “This shit is so cool.  Sorry about the language, kid.  But it is.”  With that, he pushed a button and the stake began lowering into the cement.  “You see that?  That big guy wasn’t interested before because he knew he couldn’t get to them, but now.  Look.  The size of him.  So effing efficient.  And he’s off.”

Once I saw the flash of that animal pass by where the rabbits were, I stopped looking, but I could hear everything: The sound of bones crunching and breaking open.  That was bad, but a worse sound came from the other rabbit.  The wolf had only injured it, and he was playing with it as it squealed.  And over that horrible sound, Alex and my brother were whooping it up, pump-fisting.

I’d like to think I was angry about that rabbit, that I cared about an animal in pain. I did have visions of myself opening the glass door and with one of Ron’s pool cues, beating the wolf to death. I saw myself doing the same with Ronny, truth be told.  But I didn’t want to hurt them because of the rabbit.

I never liked assholes.  My brother always was one, and I guess I knew that.  But he’s blood.  That wolf was probably an asshole, too, but then again, he was a wolf.  The thing that was really eating at me and has been eating at me since is a question I can’t shake, and it’s a question that that damn wolf and my shit-brother have made me ask myself: in a world of assholes, will my son just be another?  And if so, what will I do about it?  What can I do?  He’s my blood.

 

 

 

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Categories: fiction

Author:the circular runner

g. martinez cabrera currently lives in San Francisco with his lovely and talented wife. He holds degrees from Columbia and from the Harvard Divinity School where he spent three years thinking about lofty things. Since then, he tries to write some lofty and some not-so-lofty things down so others can see how lofty he sometimes is. When he’s not writing or spending time with said wife, he tortures young people with learning. He blogs at www.circularrunning.wordpress.com and Tumbls at www.circularrunning.tumblr.com

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