My Brother’s Room

Oh, come on. You have Guys’ Night
every weekend. Alice palms
the kitchen table and stares at me.

I shake my head.
Guys’ Night is Guys’ Night.
No girls, or it wouldn’t be Guys’ Night.

Andy sits up, folds his arms
over his chest and nods, slaps
my brother’s arm, and he does the same.

See?

Fine, our sister says,
standing up. You’re all jerks.

I smile.
Guys’ Night is Guys’ night.

My brother’s room is pretty cool.
He hung a string of beads
at the back, and put a bean-bag
chair under the windows,
next to whatever comics he’s reading.
After promising he’d be super-
careful with them, he’s been reading
Dad’s early Supermans.

Be careful, he says, while I’m sitting down.
He takes #20 off his reading table
and puts in back in its plastic
in a file folder across the room.

Relax, dude, I say, a little relieved
he moved it.

He turns off the overhead light
and switches on his Batman lamp.
He reaches into his record box and pulls out
A Rainbow in Curved Air.

Not that crap again, Andy says.

It’s the best music on the planet.

Yeah, if you’re a half-dead queer.

My brother looks out the window.

C’mon, guys. We’ll listen
to Master of Reality after.

Good. He punches my brother
in the arm and chuckles.

Between the fade from “Sweet Leaf
into the start of “After Forever”
voices start creeping
into the room. We look both ways
out the windows, and I move
to turn the music off. Of course, my brother’s
hand is already on the needle.

What gives? We listened to all
of A Rainbow in a Curved Asshole.
It’s my turn.

I hold my finger to my mouth
and look at the door
to our sister’s room.

My brother follows me
over his laundry, Andy after him.
We lean right under the doorknob
and listen:

nothing.

C’mon, Andy whispers.

My brother and I shush him.

Three minutes pass. Andy gets up.
As soon as the music starts
the voices start again
and we gesture to turn it off.
He turns it down really low
and comes back.

Brock Livingston?
my sister almost whispers.
He’s such a… jock.

A pause.

And a racist. Alice says,
also barely audible. But it was before that.
I guess I’ve got a thing for tall,
quiet ones.

Ugh, our sister says.
I wish he’d stay quiet.

Yeah.
The three of us look at each other
like we just found gold
in the attic.

Anyway, what was it like?

Hm… she tries to contain
a huge laugh. Like a shark-bite!

We smile at one another.
Take that, you lug-head.

Now your brother, on the other hand…

Which one? Wait, gross.
I don’t want to know.

Alice sighs. Okay, she says
after some shuffling. Now you.

Oh, I, ah…

I look down
and notice I’m white-
knuckling my brother’s dirty shorts.
Behind us, Ozzy croons, you just laughed
when I begged you to stay…

I think… her voice trails off.
…is pretty cute, but I’d never make
out with him.

I think they double-over laughing.

Then there’s silence
for a long time. Andy starts to fidget.
My brother and I press
our ears to the door.

We can barely hear them:

…but if I had my choice,
of anyone
, Alice was saying.

The whole school?

Out of the whole school,
no question,
it’d have to be…

WHAM!

They both kick the door
right into our faces.

Added: February 27, 2013 | Last changed: June 7, 2014