from Tell Him About Brother John

The trip home from Over There will be only a week long. I will visit my ailing grandfather Eugenio, going to see him between his afternoon naps, and then drive back to my father’s house feeling guilty about my grandpa’s health. I will supervise my nephews as my father escapes with relief from this daily task my brothers and sisters put on him, knowing he feels too guilty to say no to their demands. My brothers and sisters will go to work, grateful for the savings in daycare, but won’t say thank you. It will mean an uncomfortable session with my father, a sitting-in-silence that means nothing except that my father is still thinking about my mother and how she abandoned him. Luckily, my high school friends, Willy and Al, will invite me over to Willy’s place for beer and then me driving the car home drunk. It will mean, one morning at the grocery store, running into the girl who had a crush on me in high school—Lily still not married, still idling in the cul-de-sacs of the men she now wants, parking outside their houses and waiting through nothing. It will mean opening my town’s thin paper and whistling at how much property you can get for only five figures, how wasteful and pushed-over I am for living Over There. During the week, I will have to nurse the pulled and aching hamstring from playing basketball with my nephews. They know the small dips and holes in the dirt driveway better than I do. It will mean resting on the sofa with my hamstring wrapped, leg raised, the house quiet, and next door Brother John and the story he told me unable to be taken back.

From The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue (Algonquin Books)
© 2007 by Manuel Muñoz.
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