I run my fingers along my brother's
jaw, trying to see if it is really broken or if he
is simply being hysterical.
It doesn't seem broken to me, I say.
How would you know? he says, pushing away my hand. He's never hit you.
Ten years leaches a person of their violence. Wystan, however, is the worn
groove upon which my father's needle alights.
Having an old father has its own casualties. A young man on a Greyhound
once told me how he beat his wife with oranges. Never on the face, he said.
He was very particular about this.
Only once he beat her on the face.
Because her soul was ugly, he explained. It was ugly and she had to see
Everyone had to see it.
So it was a public thing, I said.
Yes, he replied, it was to show everyone who I was.
The night after my mother leaves, my father and I go to a local restaurant.
We finish with the oranges, wash out our mouths with water.
My father dips the napkin into the glass and wipes my mouth.
But he is not finished. Spitting into a napkin, he begins to clean and pick
his teeth until they squeak.
Are they clean?
He wraps the napkin neatly, tucks it in his breast pocket.
He's stealing the napkin from the restaurant. I'm so afraid he's going to
He doesn't need this napkin. Doesn't need to take it.
I don't understand his compulsion to steal things. Worthless things like
napkins, forks, salt
He tells me that they're high quality.
But they're not at all, and more importantly, they're not ours.
Don't worry, he says, noticing my frown, she has nowhere to go.
- 0 1 +