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Halos & Horns
When I was younger I would walk by Jim’s Diner everyday of the week. Monday through Thursday he would be there. He always slumped on the off white brick wall. At the time he seemed so big he had to at least be the size of a brontosaurs, around twenty, a real adult. His slack shoulders, sunken grey eyes and nametag that always leaned towards the left, or was it the right? I was six, how was I supposed to know? Anyways he was always there. He had one hand back clenching the wall as if he was being forced to hold hands with the girl with the pink fish lips that periodically stopped by and left lipstick on his stubbled cheek. The other hand was a special hand, it held his scepter. The end glowed with an orange garnet that let off trails of dragon smoke. It always mystified me as a child of how he could breath in fire with ease. It seemed that he was a magician, he could blow smoke hoola-hoops that tigers could jump through, they floated up like halos over himself and that girl, as if they were angels.
I tried myself to do the same. I could never get it just right, I googled how to do it. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. It had only been a month of smoking. A hard long month of it. Standing in my boxers in the backyard. Oh how cool I was for doing this. It was forty degrees and I was freezing my butt off for a cigarette. It was all worth it though. I wanted to become like them. Have that flawless sort of cool that some people seem to have naturally. I had to read tips and tidbits, practice my own tricks, one day I would achieve that. One day… One day I could be an angel.
It was when I heard that voice that I felt my blood begin to boil.
“What the he** are you doing?” he spoke. Of course “Hey Nolan how are you doing?” or even just a “Hello”, just a demand. He always got his way. Always.
“What does it look like I’m doing” I snorted, rolling my eyes; I turned away from him and closed them. I began counting backwards, praying that he would just take in his high off of seeing me suffer and leave me alone.
“It looks like you’re being an idiot” he replied with that tone of superiority and disgust that I hate more than he could ever know. I was at seven at this point. I kept counting down. Six… Five…
“You’re really doing this, aren’t you?” he accused as if he were in disbelief. Didn’t he know I was the bad twin? Our parents did at least. “Do you realize what you’re doing!?” he began shouting, he was always loud but this was beginning to give me a headache. “You’re killing yourself Nolan!” he knew I hated it when people called me by my first name, “You… You utter idiot!”. I didn’t understand why he was so upset, he normally got off to seeing me suffer. I guess he had to play the concerned older brother even if it was only a twenty minute difference. He played dad, no, he played God all the time. He had everyone in the house wrapped around his finger. I couldn’t take it anymore.
“Like you’re some sort of saint Keith” I snorted and began to walk towards the bushes to climb over the white picket fence. Then something caught the corner of my eye…
How come he never filled the gas tank? I was stranded for half an hour because of him. He always did this, drive the car and use my half of the gas. He barely put any in, if any. It was because he never gets off his a** and gets a job. He didn’t even know I paid his allowance. Not that I blame my parents for that, it was just something I did and we never talked about. No one needed to know that, especially not him.
Once I stepped out of the car I made my way to the front door, of course it was locked and the key wasn’t in its usual place. He must have locked it inside with him, the idiot. I wandered to the back where I saw him. He looked more even more than usual. He always went around ruining our image.
“What the he** are you doing?” I spoke up. I could have sworn I stood a good minute just watching him in disbelief. I just couldn’t believe it. I knew he acted out at times but I never thought he’d do something so stupid as to begin to grow an addiction. Was he mad? I know I was.
“What does it look like I’m doing”. What the he** kind of tone was he using with me!? Didn’t he understand things at all? Didn’t he get that he shouldn’t tick me off. Hasn’t he tasted my knuckles enough times to know not to get me mad? I had to count… Ten… Nine… Eight…
“It looks like you’re being an idiot” I replied back with as even tone as I could. I didn’t want to let him hear me loosing my cool. I felt all this anger, this rage at him for doing this, and my own nerves fraying from not realizing it myself. That wasn’t me though. I couldn’t let him see through me like that. He wouldn’t win so easily. Seven, then to six… five…
“You’re really doing this, aren’t you?” I said to make sure this was all real. Maybe in some sort of twisted way it was just a candy cigarette. Who was I fooling? Not even myself, he didn’t even bother replying. “Do you realize what you’re doing!?” I screamed at him, I didn’t care if the neighbors could hear. “You’re killing yourself Nolan!” my mom and dad always called him by his first name when he knew he was going to get it. And he was, maybe not their wrath but definitely mine. “You… You utter idiot!” I couldn’t find the words anymore, there I was, shaking not because of the cold but because of my stupid emotions. What would he do now? Gloat about how was always so calm and cool about things while I was always a wreck?
“Like you’re some sort of saint Keith” he fired back and began to walk towards the bushes. Oh god no. The stacked up rings of brown bottles. And he learned that I was the devil.