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The Man In Orange
I hadn't told anyone where I was going. I guess that felt like part of the fun of it. Was I embarrassed? It didn't really make since. Why would I be embarrassed of going to see my own brother? Sure, he was in jail, but ever since the Incident, every time we started talking about him, my mom made us stop. She acted as if he had ruined the perfect family name. Like she was so perfect. I would never tell her I knew, but from what my dad said (they're split up now) she had been arrested quite a few times herself. Under aged drinking, crashing into a police car; it seemed like she had a little too much fun when she was Dan's age. Either way, no matter how many times I tried to tell myself there was nothing bad about going to see him, I still felt that way. Maybe it was because if I went to see him, it would be justifying what he had done. No, it wasn't okay. He had been the driver in the escape car, during a burglary. And it was wrong. He had just graduated from college two years ago. He had been in line to become a famous singer and all -- a record deal, a world tour. Then, when he asked his girlfriend he began dating freshman year in college to marry him, she said she was seeing someone else. Then everything started going downhill from there. Restraining orders. Meltdowns. Our parents moved him into a place where he would be safe and wouldn't be able to kill himself or anything. The institute was in London. My dad had been relocated a few years ago, right before he and my mom split up. Then one night a few months ago, he escaped. He and his friends got in a car and came up with a genius plan to rob this rich old lady's house. When they arrived, Dan waited in the car, at the ready for when they would come out with all the valuable things they could find. Sure enough, after about ten minutes they came out with bags of money, pictures frames, and jewelry. My brother then began driving. The only problem was he was used to driving in America, so he was driving on the wrong side of the road. Bam! Hit by a truck. They all survived, but obviously it wasn't good for him. Now he'll be in jail for a while. Now I sit here on the tube, trying to act distracted so no one will start a conversation with me. "Why is such a young boy alone on the underground?" I heard a lady say to her husband sitting next to her. I was glad to see her get of at Goodge Street without a word said to me. Finally, I here the annoying lady tell me the station. "Please, mind the gap, between the train and the platform," says the obnoxious voice. I get off the train and make my way to the stairs leading to the streets. I climb the steps three at a time, hoping no one will say anything to me about being lost or anything.
Once I finally get out of the tube station, I take out the folded pieced of paper I had carefully put in my pocket before I left. I quickly read over the notes I had made to myself and turned right and began walking toward the jail. Would they even allow a thirteen year old in to visit? Or would they just call my parents? I considered turning around, but I realized I had gotten this far, and it would have been ridiculous if I turned around and just wasted half of my day getting here. I decided to stop at a Subway to get a turkey sandwich. I had gotten hungry over the course of the trip. I had gotten up early so that my parents didn't have any time to stop me. I didn't have any time to stop and eat.
I munched on the sandwich and a bag of chips on my way to the jail. I wasn't sure how I would feel to see him again. He probably looked a lot different now. Would he even want to see me? There was a big age difference, and he might not have time to talk to me. It wasn't like we were the closest of brothers. He was off to college when I turned eight. But still, I felt like if I didn't go to see him, our family would be officially broken into different segments. And I didn't want to be in the middle of all of them.
I got to the jail in good timing, and waited for an available talking phone. Once I finally got one, I had to wait a few minutes before my brother showed up. But eventually, there he was, curly brown hair a lot longer, beard growing fast. He was wearing a dirty orange jumpsuit. He looked unhappy and uncomfortable.
"What the hell are you doing here?" He asked. Gee, he always got right to the point.
"Clearly, I'm coming to visit that fat man over there," I said, pointing to a man whose jumpsuit was way to small for him. "No, I'm here to see you, you idiot."
"Why?" He questioned. "Are you Mom or Dad's little messenger? Ah, just like old times."
"No," I replied, "They don't even know I'm here." He didn't respond; he had a look on his face that made me believe he was thinking. It looked like he was trying to divide 187 by 12.
"Then why are you here?" He asked again. Why was I there?
"Um, because you're my brother," I said slowly, as if he wouldn't understand the words if I said them any faster. "But anyways, great to see you too." I then remembered how dirty the phones were. Who knows who could have used them. I took a napkin out of my pocket and slipped it under my hand.
"Listen, I'm doing fine," he told me. Usually, Dan was easy to read. From his facial expression, I could tell how he was feeling but this one was knew.
"Are you sad?" I asked. I'd never seen my brother sad. He was one of the happiest people I knew.
"No," he snapped, "I -- I'm not sure how I feel right now."
"Why don't you ever talk about anything?" I groaned, "that would make your life so much easier. Then you wouldn't have every single damn emotion bottled up."
"You want to know how I feel, Jasen? I feel worthless. I thought that Mom and Dad would stand by me, whatever happened. But they've ignored me ever since it happened. You don't know how it feels to be abandoned." I knew he wasn't just talking about our parents. The truth was, he had had a pretty messed up life. He always tried so hard to impress our parents. It seemed like he finally had.
'How's your music going?" I asked, trying to change the subject to something I knew he'd rather talk about.
"Well I pretty much have written enough songs for my next five thousand albums, but who knows if I'll even be able to record them."
"I've seen your album in some small stores," I said. They went ahead and edited it. But I've only seen it locally." He didn't know how to reply.
"Really?" He questioned, raising one eyebrow, "you're not just yanking my chain?"
"No," I replied, "I even bought a copy. I'll bring it to show you sometime."
"Sometime? You mean you're coming back again?"
I laughed. "Don't sound so disappointed." I looked down at my watch. "Damnit! I've gotta go. See you soon."
"Okay," Dan replied. I could tell he was surprised of the sudden departure.
"Oh, and Dan? You are worth something."
*************************FIVE YEARS LATER ************************
It was my graduation day. It was a happy day. First, I was going off to college! Second, Dan had just gotten out of jail. Graduation was over now. Everything seemed so happy. I hadn't been this happy in a long time. I knew I was going to miss my friends, but I had a whole lifetime a head of me. I had decided to take a walk, to let it all sink in.
"Hey," I heard someone say. I turned around. It was Dan.
"Oh, hey," I replied. "It's you."
"Are you okay?" He asked. "You seem sad."
"No, I'm fine. It's just a lot to take in at once, you know?"
"I know the feeling." He replied. The only thing I wished that had happened was that he patched things up with Mom and Dad, but that never happened. "Anyways, I've got something for you." He reached into the bag he was carrying and handed me a CD. I looked at the cover it read, "The Man In Orange."
"My new album," he replied happily, "it drops in a few weeks but I wanted to give you a copy." I wasn't sure what to say.
"Well thanks," I said. "And, I guess congratulations."
"Thanks," he replied. There was then an awkward silence. But it didn't matter. Everything seemed to work out in a weird way. Maybe it wasn't the way we all wanted it -- there were still problems. There were things that still made me want to bang my head against a wall.
But for now, we'll be alright.