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[Ongoing story of two brothers. More of James here trying to extract himself from an old girlfriend who’s showed up.]

I surprise myself, but more I surprise Jellie. I’m not staying here with her. I’m going back to Merrill’s and figure things out. Keep control, James. Staying with Jellie is just wasting time. But she smells like lavender and I want to put my hands everywhere on her. Right now.

“Babe, I got work to do. You know that. I’ll call you in a few days. Promise.”

She puts her arms around my neck and looks up with eyes I don’t want to gaze into. Her nose comes close to mine. “I want you to stay. The night. Like when we were together.”

She leaves it hanging like that. But I can’t, I can’t. I’m wasting time here. Not that she’s a waste of time. No, absolutely not what I think. But if I stay, there’s another day I’m doing nothing. Wasting time.

“I promise, I promise,” I say, but she’s still hanging around my neck.

“I’m not letting you go.” She giggles. She’s so good at this.

I gently take her arms and pull them away to hold her hands between us so she can’t re-entangle. At this point her roomie, sitting on the couch playing some game, has stopped and is staring at us. Uncomfortable. He looks at me and sees I need help, a little flick of his eye. Or maybe that’s for her.

“Hey, how about that beer?” He gets up and goes to the kitchen and rattles around more than he needs to. “You like light or dark. We got both today.”

He’s doing this for her. I don’t say anything and she’s drilling holes in my head with her look.


“Yeah, light is good. Thanks.”

I’m sunk. Waste. Waste. Running away from what I need to do. Get my head together. Shit if my brother can get his shit together, so can I.

The roomie comes back and hands me a beer. “Playoff’s on. I’m turning to it.”

The roar of basketball fans fills the room and dashes of color from the players reflect on the walls. Jellie’s got my hand.

“Sit down. Relax.” She knows I’m done for. Again. I gotta just have this beer and then figure it out. Not doing nothing is death for me. That seems extreme but I got two guys hanging on threads waiting for me to pluck them down. I got it all in my hands. Both have information about Dad and both want to talk to me. So what am I dong here with beers when I could be playing the game.

Game on and I’m getting a little buzz on. Shit.

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