There was a shiny golden seal on the letter, officiated by the state, but what lay inside may as well have been rotten and broken, as broken as the cause that it stated. It’s funny how good they made an official execution notice look in appearance. I subtly sat the letter down on the table and didn’t think about it for weeks, but his calls were relentless. He begged for me to come. I could have sworn I told him, “I don’t do maximum security, it makes me nervous”, but yet again, relentless. I had grown up with this guy, shared a room with him from the time I was born until the time I turned fifteen and walked in on him doing the most obscene things in the world with his girlfriend at the time. Even then I could have smelled it a mile away – the turn his life would take, sadistic.
He was sitting with his back to me when they paged me in, scrounging up all the food he could, the biggest arrangement of BBQ wings and watermelon that I had ever seen. I almost cried at the thought of being able to enjoy this food for the rest of my life while this would be the last thing that would ever sit in his stomach. That was a strange thought; the very thought of a life ending, and everything being their ‘last’ moments. I remember I had been there the first time Timothy kissed a girl. The first time my mother grabbed ahold of his neck and hoisted him off the ground when she found out he had driven drunk. The first time he got into a real fight. I was there the first time he took a hit from a blunt, and then asked me if I wanted it, shoving it in my face. Looking back…well, Timothy could have been a better brother all around.
I stood behind him for a good minute thinking of what I could say before grabbing his attention, but before it came to me, he turned around and the widest, silliest smile I had ever seen appeared on his face. He looked like the first time he had lost a tooth and screamed that the tooth fairy was going to visit him that night. Except now, it was his big brother, and the visit had an underlying melancholy feel that couldn’t be described. “Oh my god, you came!”
Typical of my brother to ask me to sit down and then quickly recommend that I try one of his hot wings, pushing it toward me with his fork. “They’re so good! Just have one!” His last meal and he was offering bits and pieces to me. I couldn’t break his spirit. I took a bite. The guards in the room wore frowns and monitored us closely, seemingly listening to every word, but the family reunion felt nice, nicer than I had ever expected.
When we were finished reminiscing, Timothy whispered, “I’m really sorry that you have to be here for this. I know it’s not how you wanted things to be. But, you have to understand…”
I put a hand up and halted him. “I do understand. Dad was a maniac and a very ill man, Timothy. I just wish that your life wouldn’t have been put in vain because you couldn’t control your anger…”
He cocked his head to the side, a small frown forming. “I know. But I just want you to remember one thing. We always shared everything. We always will share everything.” His words burned right into me and I even broke into a small waterfall of tears, holding hands with my older brother from across the table. He just nodded at me and continued to nod when the guards told us that our time was up, and broke our hands apart. He backed out of the room still smiling at me, at peace. For once in his life, he had truly come to terms with the fact that this was the end.
I walked into the room with the large glass wall, staring straight at that seat that had prior taken the lives of so many men and women. There was a spot for family right at the very front and as I peered beside me on both sides, I realized that I was all he ever had. I was there for the times that our father had beaten him across the back with his massive hands, full of cracks from whipping him raw.
When he had knocked Timothy out unconscious with a pan in the kitchen for not finishing the dishes in the set amount of time. When he put his hand up Timothy’s girlfriend’s skirt and laughed about it, taunting his own son. Making her leave and never come back. I was glad that the only ‘family’ that showed was me; I was the only one who could rightfully call myself that, all he had left. We did share everything.
So they bring my brother into the room, hands behind his back, pale faced but still smiling at me as we met eyes. There were other people in there who filled in behind me, witnesses, people who had known my father sneering and thinking to themselves, ‘you get what you deserve’ when they hadn’t even known the half of it. I shuddered at the fact of the ill-informed. My brother took his seat and they prepared him. He kept smiling, never taking his eyes from me. The last thing he wanted to see. His eyes were burning into me now, I felt like he had already passed into the afterlife and now I was looking at the carcass of a man who had been hollowed out through his own life experiences.
I don’t know what sickness overcame me but suddenly I felt my gut wretching and the need to puke followed soon after. It came boiling up in my throat and I ran out of the room, breaking the eye contact with my brother and splattering hot liquid into the inside of a trashcan for the next few minutes. I couldn’t hear a thing behind the door and at this point I didn’t want to return.
One of the guards came out a few moments later. He just stared at me, placed a hand on my shoulder, something I didn’t expect. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
“What…” I started, grabbing the man’s attention, “What…were his last words?”
“We share everything.”
I knew he had spoken them for me.
I remember coping with the whole ordeal, the nightmares that followed me for weeks in my dreams, walking down a dark street at night and seeing my brother’s silhouette in front of me and as he would turn to face me, that smile would appear again. So at peace with himself, as if he had done the world a favor. I had never had a closeness with my father and I hated the things he had done to Timothy. My anger boiled for him and the fact that I lost a brother because of him made it ten times worse. But I coped with the nightmares, the anger, the loss, by looking through tons of photo albums and journals he had left behind. I remembered something my aunt had told us one time, that we were two peas in a pod, that Timothy and I were exactly like one another. It sent chills up my spine as I looked at a photo of my aunt and father, their hands on our shoulders as little boys, the fact that we were two completely different people.
I dragged myself to work for a couple weeks after the incident, unable to pick myself up onto my feet as easily as I thought it would be. I could hear the booms of my boss as he walked across the floor to my cubicle, he would run his fingers along my tie and say, “It’s crooked again, kid. Still not feeling good?” but as the weeks ran on, this turned into a rude, “Get your act together or else you’re going to lose your job.” He just couldn’t understand the fact that I saw Timothy’s face everywhere, heard his words ringing true as day in my ears.
One day my boss approached me and told me that he was putting me on a probation that basically implied that one more fuck-up would mean that my job would be ripped out from under me. I left in a fury that day, promising myself to do better, but deeply sickened by the confrontation to the point of wanting to pull out my hair and going into a deep sweat. I laid in bed that night and tried to keep myself calm, but nothing worked. Eventually, I sputtered out the words, “I’m going to kill him! That’s it; I’m going to kill him!”
And as soon as the plan to kill my boss devised in my mind, I lunged into my bathroom and threw up everything I had eaten into the toilet bowl.
Looking down at my mess, I noticed something black and round in there. I plucked it out with my bare hands, greasy, sticky slime resembling BBQ sauce dripping from it. A watermelon seed. And another…and another, all soiled by the rotting contents of my stomach. Except I hadn’t eaten watermelons since I was about twelve years old and had one too many slices at a family get-together.
A piece of Timothy left with me that day following his untimely death. I can see him when I close my eyes, hear him every part of the day. “We share everything.” Down to every last desire, down to every last sick part of his mind, I can attest to this.