They Claimed He was My Brother

He was good, but I was better. Its my life story, and now once again I strive to beat my brother. He brings out the competative edge in me. Somehow, side by side, our legs pumping and the air rasping between our lips, I can only think of winning. Because he was good, but I was always better. We grew up trying to beat each other, and one of my earliest memories is us building block towers. My tower was better. Always better. I can see him out of the corner of my eye. A week before the race we had gotten hair cuts, mine a short practical cut, and his long and wild. He smiles as he push for the end, even when we fight he always smiles. Because he knows what I do. The white tape at the end is ripped apart, I feel is slide across my chest. Because I've won again.

I'm the youngest of three kids, the weird, gifted one, I suppose. My eldest brother is Geof, he's off in college. I was never close to him, but to see him standing in the airport getting ready to leave for California, I felt far more alone then before. My other brother, a year older, is Jake. Jake and I have always been close, but also rivals for everything. I seem to just up myself enough to always compete with him. Jake always takes it in good nature, with a smile on his wide lips. We never tied though, I always pulled ahead; Jaysen first, and Jake second. It was how it always was. Except in school, academics like. I was brilliant, teachers told mother behind their hands. Jake was the trouble child in our family for grades. He was distracted easily, had a writing and reading impairment and was generally unmotivated when it came to schoolwork. I was taking junior classes as a freshman and he was taking freshman classes as a sophomore.
Jake was more easily accepted in our small town neighborhood of Kirksville, Missouri though. He was the wild, party-loving guy whom everybody knew. Then, I was just his kid brother. It was in sports, relationships and parents favors did we really clash. He would go out partying and I stay home, study and play the perfect child. And he knew it too, but never really said anything. He knew that I could turn mom or dad around my fingers and play them like a finely tuned violin, often getting him in trouble. But he just smiled, like he did after the race, and life continued on its way.

It wasn't until I was a junior at Our Lady of Hope High School that I really understood that I was not normal. It wasn't that once again during Homecoming was I left outside in the rain. And it wasn't that even though I was a star receiver for the football that I was short of companions that night. It was the fact that I was wondering where Jake was. It was the fact that all my thoughts were centered on him. Later, when he came in drunk off his ass and with some blond girl I almost slapped him. She was a two-cent slut, hanging all over him and he just had that silly party grin that he always had and took her to his room. It was then that I realized something. I was not normal. Even when I look back on it, it stabs my heart to see him with that girl. Even when it is all past and done. Past the words 'freak' 'fag' and 'monster'...past the psychological terms 'oedipal' and 'incest'. Because I don't see it that way. I don't think that it mattered then, I didn't think it mattered then...
She didn't get pregnant, I can thank god enough for that. In a week she was forgotten and Jake had another girl over in the house. I can remember laying awake and listening to them from the room above. Because I was lonely. I was tempted to bring a girl home, but nobody went with Jake's kid brother. The silence in the house between family members was streteched even thinner when mom ordered dad to move out. Jake wasn't home at the time, I can assume he was out with yet another girl. But I could hear her screaming in that tight voice which means she's crying at the same time. I could imagine her red eyes and thin lips. I could imagine dad's too calm stare and soft spoken words. It was only too often that I could imagine these things. Jake was home less and less as I entered our senior year. It was just me and mom and a couple bottles of wine every night. She'd cry herself to sleep, and refuse to call dad. I heard that he moved to the East Cost. I never really cared, nor did I ever hear from him again.

At the time I graduated, I never had a date, and was known as the 'quiet one'. I suppose its because I declined invitations of parties and instead soaked myself in physical and mental perfection. A perfection that could never be reached, but it took my mind off of things. People assumed I was gay, having never had a girlfriend, and made fun of me in the hallways. Even the African-Americans laughed at me, and their minority must be far less then mine...but Jake continued to flourish as the social wonder of the world. I was bitter and jealous at the time. He had everything, and worst of all, I didn't have him.
I stayed in Kirksville for college, my grades having fallen drastically in my senior year. Perfection eluded me once again, and I settled for playing on the football team for Truman. I had a bad season and was third string. Three years past by quickly after that, everything was pain and depression...I think. It was the end of my first four years of college that I saw Jake again. At mom's funeral. She had been in a drunk driving accident and gone and offed herself. I was angry at her for doing that, because she made us cry. Even Geof came from his sucessful small business in California to pay a visit. It was a small funeral, many people didn't know her or care enough to come. I only stayed for part of it, and then left. Jake stayed, he cried for hours, silent tears, just for her. I had wondered then, if I died, would he cry for me?

In time, the aching burn in the hollow cavity of my chest dulled. In time, everything seemed to mend itself. I met a young man by the name of Frederick, he was an exchange student from France. We had a steamy romance, and for the first time I had realized that there was more then one person you loved. I moved frrom Kirksville to Kansas to go to the University of Kansas to get a Masters. Frederick went back to France, but I had reasserted myself and was on the way to a fully emotional recovery. Or so I had thought.
In three years I had two boyfriends, each one charming and delightful as the first. And each one ending as we just drifted apart. I lost touch with most of my family, getting the occasional postcard with the big scrawling letters that were characteristic of my brother. Or the fine needle percise writing of Geof, who now had a family and was living happily in San Fransico. It was always the fourth year that cursed my family. It was the fourth year that I was informed that my brother had attempted suicide and had been addicted to cocaine. It was that damned fourth year that I was informed that he was blind and mentally handicapped for the rest of his life. My beloved brother.
I used what little money I had, borrowed some from Geof, and drove to Kirksville. I paid for his medical bills, rehabilitation and housing. It was a nightmare. To see him like that, eyes shut and fingers twitching nervously. My brother, reduced to a man who couldn't use a fork. I stilled loved him, in a way, but that sparkle was gone. Because he was gone. I bitterly wondered why they had bothered to save him. Everything that was Jake was gone. Instead it left behind this sad excuse for a human being. The price I paid for my arrogance was much more then a broken heart or something like that. It would haunt me for the rest of my life. I left him. I left him in that private hell of his and went back to Kansas. I killed the brother I had loved so much. They say that incest is wrong, and that we're damned...I might as well be thrice damned by now.
I went to his funeral, that much I did. They say that he died from an accident. I knew the truth, he died because it was the only thing left to do. He was neglected by me, pushed away by others, used, abused...I didn't cry for him. And I still can't cry for him. My psychologist tells me that secretly I was angry because he never loved me back. I keep in touch with Geof on a regulary basis now, and my new boyfriend, Michael, drives me to see my shrink. Michael is a lot like Jake...who they claim was my brother.