My Brother’s Keeper Ch. 01
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Jean Marie…heh, yeah, that’s a sweet little name that I’ll never, ever forget—or better yet, escape.
It wasn’t that she was bad or anything—See, it was when I was younger, you know? Around eighteen. I lived with my mom, my older sister, and my little brother. She was a friend to my sister, Candie, of course… And man was she ever a friend to my sister. I mean, mom thought that they were close—and they were. But were they ever! See, mom didn’t know it, and I didn’t either, not then. But looking back on all that now…
It was a weekend in October when my sister had gone to stay over Jean Marie’s. See, all month long, or really, for the better part of every weekend in the month. They were always together during the weekends before, so, really, it was no big deal. The only real difference was that now they were involving others; you know, going to parties, boozing with the best of ’em.
That sort of thing.
I had heard only a little bit about the last party that they were going to for the month; some seventies theme thing. Candie had left the day before, you know, to be there at Jean Marie’s early enough for the two of them to hang before the party.
Long story short, they went to the party, of course. Got loaded, I imagine. And then, of course, they crashed before sleeping the day away and showing up in my mom’s driveway somewhere late into the afternoon.
Those were some happy girls as they came up to the door and came inside, laughing all the way. I watched Jean Marie as she carried all that she’d brought up the steps and through the front door. Books, clothes, papers—and booze like you wouldn’t believe! They were brining it all in, the two of them. Laying it all to rest wherever their bags would fall.
Which was mainly in the livingroom.
Once they’d unloaded everything, they threw themselves on the couch, still giggling. They had fallen all over each other making a grand spectacle of themselves, but they didn’t care. They never did. A lot of people would have called them shameless for the way that they acted. And then there were the ones who were like my mother, who just thought that they were the best of friends; like sisters.
“But sister have their ways, too… Everyone does, behind closed doors.”
It’s what Jean Marie had said in response to my mom’s questioning. It was strange, no topic was too candid or too taboo when Candie and Jean Marie was around. It was strange and nice all at once.
So she stayed with us that weekend, so Jean Marie could spend Halloween with my sister; one of their traditions. Strange as it was, this holiday was like Christmas for the two of them. And our mom liked Jean Marie, better than any or all of my sister’s friends. Thought she was good for my sister.
Heh, if only she knew.
That night was Halloween, and my sister and her friend lived it up. The both of them loved on the whole Goth scene, the dark and dramatic cloths and make up. Though I think it was the attention that they got off on more than anything else. It was just their way. It was my sister Candie, though, who really went for the extreme. A Gothic Sister of the Anti-Faith. That was Candie’s angle; shock the hell outta’ people at first glance and leave them wonderin’. Jean Marie, on the other hand, was more of the classical type. I mean, as dizzy as they both were acting when they had first shown up, Jean Marie still managed, somewhat, to keep this—timeless look about her… Heck, I think at one time my sister had made mention of Jean Marie’s blood mix—blood being another of their turn on’s…
They talked about it like—like she was a mutt or somethin’. My mom, Candie and Jean Marie laughed about it all the time, though it wasn’t until some time later that I really understood. She wore her style like a Gypsy; long skirts, sandals, those tops with the large sleeves. But she looked good in it all, she made it look good, completing the look with a scarf in her hair and cheep junk jewelry. That’s how she’d shown up to the house.
Of course, since her normal clothes where like a costume in itself, Jean Marie was the type to lean towards another extreme, following Candie’s lead. She called herself a “Honey-Bunny,” though in all truth, she looked like something straight from the lolita line of Hugh’s Bunny Ranch. She looked good, though, don’t get me wrong; in her black, strapless, corset-fitting dress and her platform Mary Jane’s. On the back of her dress she wore a fluffed up tail, topped with a pink ribbon bow. And to complete the look, tall and half-floppy, fluffy pink ears.
Like I’d said, the lolita end of the Ranch.
“Jeez-Louise, I’m dehydrated!”
Jean Marie, was sprawled out on the couch again. She was giggling, still, her bunny ears crooked atop her head as she lazily tapped her foot on the floor.
“We can go out and get something to drink,” Candie suggested, curled up at the couches other end. “Go to DQ and get a couple of sodas…?”
Laughing, Jean Marie shook her head. “Too much sugar! You know I can’t drink that stuff.”
I frowned, looking back etlik escort and over my shoulder to them from where I sat on the floor. “All those bottles you half-whit’s brought in, and you don’t have anything to drink?”
That’s when they both started laughing, like two little girls in Elementary school, having their first crush. They laughed like that a lot, and by now—at least for me—hearing it was almost second nature.
“That’s for later,” scoffed Candie. “When all of you and yours have gone to bed.” She smiled.
“You and yours?” I asked.
Jean Marie giggled and nodded, her head at rest on Candie’ hip. “When the jail-bait’s away, us and ours will play…”
“In other words, you’re too young to understand.”
“Of course,” I muttered in response to my sister’s tauntings, glaring at her as she stuck out her tongue at me. She enjoyed having the upper hand, and at times it made me right pissed. Other times…
“Neh, Candie? Exactly how old were you when you first took to the bitter-sweet effects of ‘la liquor’?”
“Younger in years, but wiser in the head than the sib’s, I’m sure.”
I looked up to Jean Marie as she spoke to Candie, watching her full lips as they formed every word that they spoke. And her eyes… She had those bedroom eyes, ya know? Though I’m sure at that point it was due more to the fact that they’d already begun their drinking. But they weren’t drunk, not yet. They were only just beginning to feel the effects of what they’d had so far.
They were the ‘happy drunk’ sort. Though, they never really got to the point where they’d be annoying or obnoxious, stumbling all over themselves, speech slurring, wall-hugging drunk. Or at least, they weren’t yet at that point… Right now, they were only slightly tipsy.
“A touch tipsy!” Jean Marie corrected, having heard me in my calling them out under my breath.
So there they were on the couch, mindlessly poking, prodding and picking through their harvested loot of assorted sugars from the earlier part of the night. They were like two little girls, their eyes alight from their time out.
But they weren’t about to let their fun end there.
I looked up to the window as there came a hard pounding at the glass. I jumped, my mother jumped. Hell, we all jumped, even more so with the sight of the two—no, three painted faces as they looked in through the window, still pounding at the glass as they yelled and howled hysterically.
Seeing this, my sister Candie sprang to her feet, quick as her body—and her costume, would allow, giggling all the more as she stepped—practically jumped—over our little brother to get to the door. Jean Marie was close on her heels to join the party that had come to collect on our lawn. Seven people, maybe, counting my sister and Jean Marie.
Candie squealed as she lept out of the door and into the outstretched arms of the awaiting—guy. He was tall from what I could see, face only half painted beneath his spiked hair. “You’re late!” she squealed, her arms around his shoulders.
“Had to get some essentials,” he breathed in her ear, nodding back and over his shoulder to Jean Marie.
Jean Marie… I watched her as she moved to get out of the door and down the steps, joining up with the others who lingered at the foot. Everyone was laughing, most of them drinking.
“S’okay if they park on the lawn here, right?” Jean Marie asked, tossing back her hair as she looked back to my sister, laughing at the way Candie was straddling the guy from greeting and his carrying her down the stairs in just that way.
Candie nodded. “S’fine. So long as they don’t mind the block or two long walk!”
They were going into the woods. I had heard my sister planning it out for weeks now. Down in the woods where it was rumored that a few kids did this blood ritual thing a few Halloweens before. They were gonna take booze and candles and music and just hang for as long as they could stand. Maybe longer.
“Lemmie just grab my cloak!”
I watched Jean Marie as she pulled her hands free from the one who’d been holding her where she’d been standing, turning to start back towards the door—towards me.
She smiled to me, a light-hearted smile. Sweet. The kind of smile that just made your knees weak, your heart skip and your head swim. Though not always in that order.
“Ya gonna come with?” she asked as she squeezed past me through the doorway.
I felt her brush against me, made my breath catch in my throat. She even stopped there, in front of me, her eyes looking up to me. Despite the deep lacquer of Gothic-style makeup, I could see her child-like features, and, strange as it was, with her looking up to me as she was, I would have sworn that she was thirteen than twenty-one.
I swallowed hard, struggling to find my voice. I couldn’t believe what she was asking, asking me—me, to come along with her and my sister and their friends to some—booze gathering. I started to open up my mouth to speak, only to ankara eve gelen escort be stopped as Candie interrupted.
“Stop teasing him, Marie!” she laughed. “Less you put ideas in his head!”
Jean Marie gave a shake of her head, ignoring what all my sister had said. Or, at least, that’s the way she made it look. “Well? You wanna come with us, don’t cha?”
“Jean Marie, come on! Get yer ass in gear!”
Jean Marie giggled, turning only to flash a smile to the boy who had called after her. I looked at him, too, though he didn’t seem to notice me. I wasn’t surprised.
“So you’ll come?” she insist, reaching out to tug at my sleeve.
I lowered my eyes to her hand. Suddenly my tongue felt thick in my mouth.
“Fuck! Jean Marie! Come on!”
It was a second boy who called out for her, then. A big guy, thick. His dark hair in short twists , a black outline to the black and white face paint.
Biting at her lip, Jean Marie turned on her heels and lept down the few steps to the ground, running all the way until she reached the arms of the guy—the thick one. By now she’d forgotten what she had started into the house for, held now in the arm of the guy as the two that stood around her passed back and forth between them a smoke and a bottle of Jack.
My sister called back to the ones who hung behind. She was already half way up the street with the one who carried her. It was only a little while later that all the others took to following, laughing and drinking all the way. And I could hear it as they walked, the clatter of bottles of booze and whatever else they deemed a need, or need-worthy. And even when they were out of sight I could still hear them. I waited in the doorway ’till it passed.
I don’t know how long I sat around; hell, I don’t even know why. It was usually so easy for me to get up and walk. To go into my room behind the closed door and to blare my music as loud as I could stand it. But not tonight. Tonight was just different, and there were reasons. At my mom’s request I did the cliché round about the neighborhood with my little brother. I mean, he was a kid, who wanted candy, and still enjoyed that sort of thing—though, thankfully, for only so long.
I didn’t expect my sister and her friends to be back when I got back, though it was disappointing just the same to find that they weren’t there. Grunting, I shlumped down into the couch, watching my little brother as he dove head long into his loot. Mom thought it was funny, and taunted me for not getting any of my own. But I had. Of course I had! Just dropped mine down just inside the door, too lazy to lug it any further.
“Where’s Candie?” I asked, only watching whatever was on the TV with half a care.
“Still out with Jean Marie and the others.”
My mom didn’t sound too worried, and really, I wasn’t surprised. Looking up to the clocks, I noticed that it wasn’t even ten. I groaned, shifting just slightly where I sat, my fingers smoothing over the dark clean velvet of the cloak that Jean Marie had left behind. I was restless, and unrightfully so. I didn’t know why I was suddenly making such a big deal out of something that had always been the norm. I’d never worried about the whereabouts of my sister before or who she hung with. I mean, hell, she was twenty-two! She was grown, her own person, an adult. And it wasn’t as if she was with strangers or plotting to drive.
No, that was a lie. The more I thought about it, the more I knew it to be a lie. It wasn’t my sister that I was worried about or for.
“I’m going out.”
I made the announcement out of habit, though on a night like this it wasn’t of any importance. I didn’t bother to grab a coat, the air outside was in the perfect medium. A fluke of nature for all the weird weather we’d been having; extreme highs and lows. But the gods were gracious, I guess, and gave to Candie and “hers” exactly what they all needed for the perfect night out; a full moon and clear skies.
I walked down the road a ways before turning the corner to head down the sloping hill of the next street. It wouldn’t take me long to get to the entrance of the woods, you know, where the road came to an end. But it was my finding my way on the path and through the woods that had me bothered, ‘specially since it was dark. Candie and them, they had had the late evening’s light to go by when they had left the house.
As for me…I think I had a lighter.
I cussed and swore as I made my way over parts of the path, my feet sinking into the thick of what mud and water had kept from the rain that had long since passed. The trek itself was easy enough, walkin’ over rock and branch. For a while I even wondered just how Candie and Jean Marie had made it through, as prim and proper as they could be in concerns to their precious costumes. But then I remembered the muscle that had come to collect them, and at that I couldn’t help but to laugh.
Once up the small embankment and onto the higher path I could hear them, their gaziosmanpaşa escort music blaring, shock-rock, Goth and whatever else suited their mood. I could hear the playful screams of a girl, though I couldn’t begin to tell from which girl the scream might have come. But they were all laughing, livin’ it up. I heard glass crash and shatter as it was dashed against rock, cheers raising all around as they applauded the deed done. Then there was chanting…
“Chug! Chug! Chug! Chug–!”
Making my way further down the path now I could see it, the light that was cast by the bonfire they had made. Not too big, just enough for light and atmosphere. All that really mattered was the music and the drink.
They were all gathered under the double bridge, sitting where they fell is how it looked. I could see the face of the other girl who was with them, laughing and talking to others that I couldn’t quite see—except for Jean Marie. It was easy enough to spot her, the bunny ears half fallen off of her head. She was resting against a boy, against the first one who had called to her back at the house.
I took a few steps forward, grateful for the shadow, and thankful that her back was towards me. It made it easier for me to listen as they all talked, as they all cheered mockingly as Candie and the one I had seen her clinging to emerged from the shadows of the paths opposite end. Already she was all smiles, taking a curtsey as the boy on her arm took a bow, each of them holding up in their free hands the drinks that they’d been drinking.
I took a step back, watching my sister as she leaned over to take from the sitting girl the smoke that she held between her fingers.
“I can’t believe you did that!” Candie laughed as she took a drag.
Smiling, Caine turned his head to Candie’s, kissing atop the crown of her twisted habit. “What?”
“Jean Marie,” she laughed, gesturing towards her friend with her own half-empty bottle. “I can’t believe that she teased my little brother the way she did.”
“I didn’t!” Jean Marie laughed. “My offer was genuine, I was being sincere!”
Everyone around the fire laughed, one or two of them shaking their heads.
“Marie just has a thing for the school boys,” laughed the boy who held close to Jean Marie. And though I couldn’t see it, I was sure that Jean Marie blushed to hear him say that. I did. “She likes encouraging their juvenile fantasies,” he teased, turning to nibble at the lobe of her ear.
Against him she giggled and squirmed. “I do not!” she whimpered.
“I mean, it’s not like he’s your brother,” the third girl added, taking back her smoke from my sister’s hand.
At that Candie nodded, a wicked little smile on her lip. “I mean, I’m always half expecting you to snap when I snap—maybe even before then.” She laughed. “And you know I wouldn’t blame you if you acted the part of the total bitch, ya know?”
Though she laughed at what was said, Jean Marie turned her head to the guy that was at her side, hiding her face in the shadow of his shoulder. Opening up her eyes, I watched her as she watched me. Through the dark she had spotted me, watching all of them. But she didn’t move and she didn’t say a word. Instead, her lips curled into a smile, childish in the way that she bit at her lip, her dark eyes catching the moonslight and shining through the dark of her lashes.
I stood there breathless and still. I couldn’t move.
“I mean, really. What do you care if he feels left out, or abandoned or whatever?” Candie went on. “You’re not my brother’s keeper.”
Jean Marie giggled at this, I could see it, see it as well as I could hear it as she was slow to lift her head from the boys shoulder, looking across the fire to my sister. “No,” she said in an all too simple breath. “I’m not.” Again she gave a giggle as she turned her head back towards me. “But I’m beginning to think he’s mine…”
All eyes moved to me, then, seeking me out through the dark, finding me, fixing on me. By now, they all knew I was there, and the lot of ’em, if not all of ’em, were beginning to snicker or laugh out loud.
It’s pretty hard to keep a tough exterior when inside all you wanna do is yell. Shoving my hands into my pockets I started forward and into the light of the fire, kicking at the gravel and digging my toe into the dirt. I wanted to call them all out, label them all ass-holes, each in their own respective right. But I couldn’t, not out loud. I didn’t really know any of my sister’s friends, except for Jean Marie. And really, I didn’t exactly know what they were all capable of. “So now I’m you keeper, huh?” I muttered, glancing down to Jean Marie, a crooked, albeit forced, half smile curling my lips.
She nodded, slowly, jerkingly like a kid. She was wasted.
Keeping her eyes on me, se lift her hands up, reaching for me. Like a child she extend and curled her fingers again and again, like a little kid grabbing for their favorite toy. And, really, I wanted to reach for her, too. To take her up and just—hold her, I guess. Really, I’d never thought it through, I mean, she was Jean Marie, my sister’s friend. I had thought about holding her, making out with her, maybe even being with her like she was with the guys she and Candie were always with. But I had never really thought about what I’d do, how I’d act if she really ever reached out—for me!
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