DISCLAIMER: This story contains adult content.
Please join us at the Yahoo Group...for discussion of the story and to give some feedback about what you think about the story, as well as other stories by this author.
I hadn't talked to my brother in six years. Six whole years. I rolled out of my bed turning over to the side as I tried to gather my thoughts long enough to pick up the phone. I had barely picked it up before I heard his voice on the other line. It wasn't hard to tell who it was. He sounded exactly like me. He was my twin...my identical twin at that.
I didn't get it, "Man, don't call me at 2 am."
That was what I said. I told him not to call me at 2am. I meant it too. I meant it with all my heart. I didn't want this man calling me at 2am regardless of the fact that he was my brother or not. I just didn't care what he had to say. At 2 am it didn't matter.
The next day I woke up feeling a little confused. I wondered if it was really my brother. I picked up the phone and saw that I had ten missed messages. TEN missed messages.
I pulled up my voicemail. It was from a number I had known so well. It was my house phone number growing up. I looked down at the number and picked up the call to listen to the voices on the other line. The voices were clear and distinct. I knew exactly who they were.
"Junior...Junior your brother's dead."
That was 2 days ago and I found myself heading across the country to find them. Richie. Richie was really dead. I couldn't believe he was really dead. What I couldn't believe even more was my reaction to it. You'd think I'd cry and ball out the person who was born alongside me had left the world. Truth was I was just confused by it all. I was confused about how it happened. My mother hadn't given me any details except, "He was in an accident. The funeral is in two days."
Knowing my mother someone probably had to write that down for her to say. She hardly knew how to make a decision on her own.
"You going to be ok?"
I turned over to Allison. She was my roommate and best friend. Allison had been there with me for it all. She had been the first person to ask me how I felt about my brother. She was the first person I had ignored the question to.
"I'll be fine."
"How do you feel about coming back to Atlanta after all these years?"
"They haven't missed me. I'm sure it was out of necessity they even told me about the funeral. They don't care about me...not one bit."
That was me. I was always cold and aloof. I was always very quiet. I held a lot of stuff in behind my business exterior. I didn't care about letting anyone in. All I cared about is my business and that was the only thing that ever meant anything to me.
"Oh come on, that's your family. I'm sure they missed you. You never really discussed your family. I mean I knew you had a twin but why didn't he ever come to visit?"
I shrugged my shoulders.
"Same old Junior," she replied, "You're like a shell..."
"...hard to crack."
For a minute I thought I heard the voice in my head. It was the same thing my brother used to tell me when we were kids. He'd say I was like a shell...hard to crack. Richie Rich was the nickname my family had given my brother. He was so different from me. He was so with this world. He was so lively and when he walked into a room everyone paid attention. When I walked into a room, I was suspicious. I was angry and I didn't care to talk about it.
We arrived in Atlanta. It had changed from when I had left 6 years ago. The streets that were once clean seemed to be a lot more ghetto. There were a lot more homeless people at the airport as I pulled in. I'd never seen homeless people at an airport. I recognized everything almost immediately. It wasn't what I was used to. I looked around at the brashness of the place. This definitely wasn't the land I was used to. The economy must have hit Atlanta bad. I looked over at Allison and was kind of embarrassed. We had spent the last year living a peaceful serene beautiful life in San Jose. This was kind of ...well...it was...embarrassing.
I looked over the cab driver who quickly pulled off just as he saw me coming. Great and to top that off it was not beginning to rain.
"Why can't we just ask your family to come get us?"
I ignored her.
It took damn near 15 minutes to get a cab and it was 15 minutes too late. The rain had begun to soak us almost completely from head to toe. I hadn't noticed how thick the rain could really get in Atlanta. It seemed like the heavens were mad at the fact that I had to return home. Hell... the heavens weren't the only ones mad at the fact that I had to return home.
We got to the hotel almost two hours completely soaked and in a bad mood. The hotel wasn't that far from my family's house. I figured they would be having the funeral at the same place they had my grandmother's funeral back when I was kid. It was just down the street.
I was home...I was in Atlanta.
I had promised myself that nothing...NOTHING would bring me back here and I had turned around and let something bring me right back here in the middle of it all.
"So you are going to pretend to be my girlfriend right?" I asked.
Allison looked at me with weirdest eyes. I knew that look. They were judging me. She didn't understand though. I knew she would do it though. She would do anything for me. She was just that type of person.
"So let me get this right. Your family doesn't know you are gay and they haven't seen or spoken to you in 6 years. So why would you care enough about their opinion to even try to pretend this. Junior you are going on 24."
She was right. I was a man. I was a grown man. I didn't need to put up this front . I didn't need to pretend like there was something going on with me when there really wasn't. Why was I so afraid? Why was I pretending?
"You don't know my dad."
Allison was the only one who knew the most about my family. She'd known I was never close to any of the members of them and she'd known that I was from Atlanta. She also knew they didn't know about the fact that I was a gay male. All these things were small details and yet she had been the only one I had let this close into my past. The dark secrets that were held there I tried to block out. I tried to ignore all of them.
"Ok, you know what this is your family and you're idea. I still feel like the least we could have done though was go over there to your house and offer condolenses. You should be grieving with your family. It's just wrong for the first time for them to see you in 6 years be at your brother's wake."
She was right.
It was a messed up thing to do.
I guess I was just being dramatic. I wasn't sure. I didn't want to make it seem fake about it all.
I ignored the situation, "Are you ready?""
I managed to be late to my own brother's wake. We got there late and honestly it was kind of funny. I laughed a little bit as we walked up to the funeral. I always managed to be late even for something this important. Allison didn't get it. She tried, but I knew she didn't really understand what was going on in my head half the time. No one really did...and Richie Rich, god bless his soul, was one of the people who didn't get me the most.
"This is going to be so awkward..." I heard her whisper as we walked in.
It was an old Baptist funeral home that we were walking into. It had my Mom written all over it. She was the big religious one In the family. I hadn't seen my father step in a church in years. He was too busy running his famous club "MARCHIONESS" that he cared so much about.
The doors open and the room was crowded...they had all turned almost at the same time. They all turned around to look at me. Almost 150 people seemed to turn in unison. Some people looked shocked and I could figure out they probably didn't know my brother had a twin.
One lady actually screamed.
I didn't see my family yet among all the people but I knew they were looking at me. It made my palm sweat.
"I'm right here," Allison said.
Her voice was comforting for a moment. It was only for a moment though. As I walked towards the coffin my body began to get weak. She walked next to me and held my hand. Sweat...
And that was when I saw it...the coffin. It was an open casket. It was an open casket in the front of the room surrounded by the most beautiful bouquet of flowers. The flowers were richly arranged. It was strange because I never knew if my brother liked flowers. I didn't know much of anything of Richie Rich besides he was everything my father wished I could have been. He was the socialite. He was the Southern entertainer. He was a king while I was just a peasant.
"Are you ok?" Allison whispered in my ear."
I didn't want her to speak. Everyone was still quiet. At this point the choir had been singing but no one was looking up there. They were looking at me. I thought that maybe I should sit down. I think that was what Allison had planned. She was trying to stop me and pull me in one of the pews.
"Let go of me," I told her.
"Let go Allison."
I couldn't take it. I made my way to front. I ignored everyone around me until I saw that body. I saw that body and I saw my reflection staring back at me...and my eyes went almost completely black.
What happened to you? How did you die brother? Why do you look so alone? And out of all the nights that you could have died how come you called me that night? Was this really an accident? What kind of accident could it possibly have been?
will be ok, he used to faint all the time when we were
I woke up to see Allison sitting there. She wasn't alone. She was talking to HIM. Ezra.
I looked over at his face. He looked older and a lot more handsome then I remember him to look. He'd always been the best looking I guess. His hair was cut short.
"It must have been hard seeing his family like that."
"He acts tough but I know how he is inside. He's a big softy. He'd never admit it though. We are all happy to see him. The old man may not act like it though. I guess like father like son."
At that point I managed to wake up long enough to see Ezra standing over me. He still had his baby face. People used to tease him a lot when he was younger because he looked a lot like soldier boy and hell he acted a lot like him too but Ezra definitely had grown into his manhood. He still had the babyface but now he had a sick goatee and a perfect white smile. He looked kind of well-trimmed. I could see Allison's eyes on him.
She was starstruck...just like all the other girls who met Ezra.
"He's up," she stated and smiled, "Junior what the hell just happened?"
I looked over at Allison who was already handing me a glass of water. I looked around to see where I was. I was in a hall. It was the same funeral but it was in a hall part now.
"How long have I been out?"
"You missed the burial. Which was probably a good thing. We kept you hear. The reception is going on in the other room..."
Ezra's eyes were looking at mine. I wondered if he was expecting me to speak first of if I should have spoken first. Our eyes just locked. He was so handsome still. I was so sure that maybe karma would show its face and turn him into an ugly duckling so I could come back and laugh but damn was I wrong. He still had these eyes that just glimmered.
We sat there staring at each other for a little while silently. He didn't smile and I didn't smile. Ezra didn't speak. He was just staring at me as though trying to figure something out. I was staring at him trying to understand why the hell everything good always happened to him and never to me. He couldn't be ugly if he tried. He'd literally have to get beat up and have a bruised swollen face not to be ugly and even then he'd probably be able to get girls.
It was such a long silence...it had to be maybe a full minute and half before finally it was Allison who broke the silence.
"I met your other brother."
"That isn't my other brother..." I stated getting up.
I didn't have time to explain things to her.
"Allison are you ready to go?"
Ezra was still quiet. I couldn't tell why. He didn't greet me or respond to it or anything like that.
"Go?" Allison asked, "You were awake for a good 5 minutes. We missed the burial we might as well get something to eat at the reception. Am I missing something?"
"Allison, you guys
might as well stay. Heis probably malnourished and
dehydrated. It could have added
to the fainting. Maybe he should go get
something to eat and build his strength up.
If he doesn't feel comfortable eating with everyone else you guys can
get some food to go."
He wasn't speaking directly to me.
I could tell how awkward Allison had to be feeling and it pissed me off that Ezra wouldn't just open his mouth to speak directly to me. A part of me wondered what the hell he would be doing here anyway. He was probably trying to kiss my father's ass as usual and try to be the "Bigger" man or maybe a representative of the family to make everyone feel better.
I walked up to Ezra. His mouth opened up a little bit. I wondered if it was due to anticipating us actually speaking directly to one another after 6 years...but no I wouldn't give him the passion.
I looked right
into his eyes as though looking into a mirror and I directed my words to
Allison, "Allison...we will eat where we so please.
I didn't come all this way for nothing.
I might as well grab something to eat."
Allison was in the corner, "Ok...this is awkward and I'm hungry...so...excuse me..."
She walked out first. Ezra and I exchanged one last look before I followed behind her. I didn't give a damn if he spoke to me. I didn't plan on speaking to him first. What made him think that I would bow down after playing hard ass for all these years? I didn't give a damn.
I walked out on the floor to see more stares. There weren't as many though since people were obviously walking in and out of the dining hall. At this point it was clear that I wasn't actually Richie Vincent alive from the grave.
The room was decorated beautifully. I wondered who they hired. There were long tables and in the middle of the floor was a table with a huge portrait of my brother that read "RICHIE VINCENT...LOVED ALWAYS." I had to say Richie always knew how to take a good picture if anything. I bet they didn't have to look far to find that.
I sat away from the table clearly marked out for the Vincents. We sat on a table away from everyone else next to a fat man that I hadn't seen in my life and his date who honestly looked more like a drunken prostitute off Martin Luther King Boulevard.
"Is that them?"
I looked over at my family. I could see them sitting at the main table together. It wasn't long before Ezra walked over there and sat next to them.
"The woman with the red on is my mother. You can notice her by the holier than thou halo floating above her head. The guy next to her dressed like a used up pimp is obviously my dad. There is my older sister Lydia and then Jarvis...my actual younger brother."
I could see Allison trying to make a link to the faces. We were all adults in my family at this point. They hadn't noticed that I was in the room yet. I was pretty sure they hadn't at least. My mother was smiling at my father, probably over something he said. Who knows what it was. My mother was a lot younger than my father was. He was an older man and had probably married her and had us much past his prime. He always thought he was younger than he really was though. I don't know what that was about. Truthfully I don't know what really kept them together.
My sister Lydia was with her bottle. It wasn't hard to tell her. Her hair was wild on her head and she looked like she hadn't had much sleep. She was about to be 28 and it was probably too late for her to ever change. I could smell the alcohol from across the room. I guess they never got to getting her in the rehab that she so needed.
Then there was Jarvis. He was just year younger than Richie and I. He above all was the only one who had managed to communicate with me even slightly. He had sent me emails. He was still handsome and probably looked the most like Richie and I over anyone in the family. We all had slim faces and long pointed noses that made us look like we were mixed with something. Our lips were thinner than our parents and we all had these extensive dimples in our cheeks.
"I'm so confused," Allison stated.
I shook my head, "Ezra Rogers works for my father at my father's nightclub. Being in his business and being so close to my father's work has made Ezra like another son for my father. Truth is Ezra's only family is his older brother Mekhi. The two just appeared and begged for a job. I think Ezra was probably 12 at the time and Mekhi was like 16. Ever since then they've been kind of like a part of the family."
"It's hard not to notice him...look the person wanting the most attention."
At that moment I could see Mekhi. At first I didn't recognize him either but once I saw someone slamming their palm on the microphone calling for attention I knew it was Mekhi. My father had gotten a ton of money off of the fact that Mekhi loved to talk too much. He'd talk about anything and everything just to hear himself. He was so annoying to me.
"Hey hey hey!" I heard Mekhi said.
I wanted to drown myself in humiliation as Mekhi intimidated Fat Albert. This whole thing was more than embarrassing to me. I looked over at Allison to see that she was actually amused by the whole thing. She would be. I had grown up with ghetto ass people.
"I just wanted to thank everyone for coming," Mekhi continued, "Richie was a major part of my family and was a brother to me. Even before my brother Ezra and I were adopted by the family and became Vincents...he was already family..."
I started to laugh.
By this time my family definitely knew I was there. I stretched my arm out trying to hold back from the laughter. My father did what?
At that moment things got pretty awkward all over again.
"Excuse me," Mekhi said in the mic.
He got down all of a sudden. At that moment I realized that it was my job to actually walk up and say something to my family. I grabbed Allison by the hand and walked over to them. I didn't know exactly how I was going to do this but I had to say something now that they noticed me. Mekhi met me at the table and he was the first one in my face.
He actually had a huge smile on his face.
"What's up bro!"
"Hey..."I said trying to smile back, "I didn't know this actually happened. Sorry for my ugh...outburst...wish I knew my parents actually adopted two new people into the family...that would have been nice to know."
I turned to my parents. At that point my mother got to her feet and brushed herself off before meeting me and giving me a hug.
"Oh baby it's so nice to see you."
"It's nice to see you too Mom."
"It's been too long."
Her holding me like this reminded me of how vulnerable I was before. How many nights did I want my mother to just hold me and tell me she missed me when I had run away.
That was all I was to them though...a runaway.
I sat down at the table quickly before anyone had the chance to get up and try to give me a hug. It still didn't stop Lydia however who came from behind me and hugged me tightly. She was drunk even now. Besides her addictions she was such a beautiful woman though. She could have been a competitor. She could always sing. She had the most beautiful voice. The problem was getting her to stay sober for a whole performance.
"How have you been Lydia?" I asked.
"After my second husband left me for Cousin Mona, I'm just fine..." she stated.
Cousin Mona was the family slut. I was sure she was somewhere around the funeral. She was known to steal men around Atlanta that were married and once she broke up the marriage she usually broke up with the men. Mona was beautiful though and I could at least say she managed to keep herself sober and looking tidy unlike my sister. It was easy to see why a man would chose Mona. Of course I didn't say any of that to my sister... I just smiled.
Jarvis was the next to speak, "Ignore Mona...you know how she is. This is good though. For the first time it seems like we are all together...well...damn...that was dumb wasn't it?"
It was kind of dumb. Richie was dead. We all weren't together.
Ezra patted Jarvis on the shoulder comforting him, "No it's not dumb bro. We know what you meant. We understand completely Bro..."
I looked at Ezra. He was addressing MY little brother.
I didn't get it.
"I've seen it all." I stated.
I still wasn't addressing Ezra full on. It was always tension between Ezra and I since the beginning. We were the same age. Where as Ezra and Richie became quick best friends, Ezra and I always had a silent tension. We never spoke on it. We never full out argued either. He was like one of those people that you knew talked a lot of crap behind your back but they never admitted it.
"I was going to write you," Jarvis stated, "I planned on telling you about the adoption. I just didn't think it was my place...to say you know? Oh dam...damn...this is so damn awkward...is anyone else hot?"
It was getting hot here.
My father's eyes were burning into me from across the table. He was giving me the same quiet stare that Ezra was giving me. He was right next to Ezra. Ezra was always right next to my father. He was like my father's henchman or something. I wondered at times whether he wiped my father's ass for him. He might as well. He was so damn up his ass all the time.
Lydia raised a glass, "Can I get refill if I have to deal with this dramatic bullshit?"
mother hit the table, "Lydia, watch your mouth this is a church.
Let's just be happy that even though one of
our sons is gone that God had blessed us by bringing another one back...and with
Allison didn't hesistate to break the awkward vibe between my family, "Hi, I'm Allison. I'm Junior's girlfriend."
They all looked surprised. I knew why they were surprised. Half my life my father thought I was gay. Whether it included trying to get me to hang out with the other four boys in my family or trying to spend one on one bonding time with me, he always seemed to fail to make me more masculine. I wasn't feminine or anything but I just had that feeling that I was...different. We never confirmed it. We just grew apart. Then we had the blow up.
"Damn bro...you got a nice girl," Mehki stated.
not your brother."
Mehki seemed a little offended as he opened up his mouth to retort my allegation, "Well legally..."
My father spoke immediately, "Mekhi you don't have to explain yourself..."
"Look guys, this is too much for me right now," I stated getting up from the table, "I came back because I was upset about my brother and I still am. There is a lot of tension here and I don't want to cause you guys any more grief than you already have...Allison say your goodbyes."
Allison smiled and picked up her hand, "It was nice to meet you guys..."
My mother stood up from the table, "Wait wait...don't go...hey don't go."
She was crying. It tore me up to hear her cry. I could tell she was upset but by then I was so resolved in getting the hell out of there that I didn't let it stop me. I heard some other people calling out for me to stop and come back as well. That included Jarvis and even Lydia. Hell, I think even Mehki might have tried.
I kept walking though and I was walking so fast that I found myself leaving Allison behind. I knew she would catch up though and as I made my way out the door I realized that I was on the brink of crying my damn self.
Just thinking of my brother...thinking of my family.
How did my brother end up dead?
How did I end up back here with my family?
These were the most unexpected chain of events in my life and everything seemed to be folding. All the secrets of the past were unfolding right here in front of me.
I felt Allison's hand grabbing me from behind and pulling me back.
"Look I'm not going back Allison."
It wasn't Allison's voice. I turned around to see Ezra. He was addressing me finally. His eyes were looking right in my eyes and he was holding onto my hand. His hand was clutching onto mine. I wasn't sure exactly what had made him follow me. For a moment I thought he had done it on his own will. For a minute I was blown away that Ezra wasn't my father's lapdog.
It was just for a brief moment that I was honestly impressed by Ezra and thought maybe he had changed. Maybe he was finally his own man.
Just as I thought that Ezra opened his mouth, "Your dad wants to talk to you...in private."
Please join us at the Yahoo Group...for discussion of the story and to give some feedback about what you think about the story, as well as other stories by this author.