We were a family of wrenching anxiety and hidden scribblings, prayers and other secrets, yet in our need to know more than was good for us we intruded on each other always. We didn't respect locked doors. We fought to have the last word, even if it was only(more) shouting at each other to shut the fuck up, shrill as uprooted mandrakes.
You needed a crochet hook to open my brother's bedroom door. I slept with my mom in the laundry room, and my dad slept on the couch. My brother had the only private domain in the trailer and it lured me. It had everything I wanted to know more about. He had Metallica posters and cassettes stacked against the wall in precarious Jenga piles. His room smelled like missed curfews and spare change. A litter of dimes and nickels, crumpled cellophane from cigarette packets was strewn on his dresser; he always complained about how broke he was and yelled at dad for not having any money. Yet I counted $15 in coins, at least. Budweiser labels had been peeled off umpteen bottles and papered his wall. There was the manic, layered debris of a life lived too fast to tidy up behind.
He worked as a pizza delivery driver to get money to buy Lee jeans and Converse sneakers - "Cons" - white leather with fat puffy tongues. It was the 1990s.
He had to fight our dad, who never had a job himself. Dad didn't want to lend him the flashlight so he could look at the different house numbers. It had cost $30 and they fought over it. Dad never helped my brother. My brother was bad, so I understood, yet I saw how constant derision ground him into dirt and wore him out young. (less)