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The Dead
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“Well, well. Look who’s back from the dead,” his brother said, as James opened the door.

James threw his backpack on the couch and walked toward the kitchen, ignoring his brother. He was not in the mood to answer the inevitable questions.

“What the fuck? Where have you been?”

James let silence fill the space between the living room and kitchen and his brother got up to follow him.

“I asked you a question. What the fuck?” His brother reached to grab his arm and James stepped away. “How did I know if I needed to call in a missing person’s report? Maybe you were dead?”

James opened the fridge and scanned the emptiness. “Jeez, what the fuck do you eat?”

“Oh, like I’m waiting to serve you, like maybe if you told me you’d be back, I’d have stocked up.”

James closed the door and turned. “You really got nothing to eat here?”

His brother laughed and shook his head. He returned to the couch and picked up the controls. James knew his brother was just pretending to be done with his asking. James walked toward the glare coming through the living room window. The heat was just starting up for the day.

“You really got nothing to drink?”

“Water. Have you tried it?”

His brother continued to pretend to play whatever game he had on the screen. James never understood the draw of video games. The noise, the ugly graphics, sitting inside when you could be out roaming around. Getting in trouble. He laughed.

“What is so fucking funny?”

James sat down next to his brother. “So you want to know where I went this time?” He waited for his brother to stop his game. “Can you at least turn down the volume. I’m surprised your neighbors don’t complain.”

“He’s deaf.”

James rubbed his eyes. He’d been driving all night and the dry desert air had sucked the liquid from his eyes. “You got any eye stuff, that stuff you use for your contacts?”

His brother turned off the game. “Eye stuff? You suddenly need eye drops? You’ve been smoking again. And you can’t even stop at the Seven Eleven for drops?”

His brother stood up and walked to the window that overlooked the parking lot. James could see his little brother’s shirt rise and fall with his breathing. Maybe he was even shaking. But what could James do. He was who he was and that was that.


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