The Manchester Review
Brendan Mathews
Henry and His Brother
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His brother
It’s how he gets his rocks off, that’s how I look at it. He’d never say it so bluntly, but there it is. Henry, he’s a romantic. You give him hay and he spins it into gold; you show him an alley reeking of piss and horseshit from the last hansom cab stable in Chicago, with the el hammering the tracks so loud you can feel it in your teeth, and he makes it sound like some kind of special-effects Shangri-La. I’ve heard what he says. Showers of stars. Lights like an open-air disco. It’s fairyland, which I guess it is, if you want to be funny about it, but what does that make me? Some kind of chain-smoking Peter Pan? A big white rabbit stalking a sexed-up Alice? I’m the guy that tails him there night after night, and I stand on the corner and I wait for him to get what he needs and the whole time I’m praying this isn’t the night he gets busted by the cops or worked over by some bruiser or else jumped by kids so goddamn scared of their own need that they go and kick the shit out of some guy doing exactly what they want most. But this is what brothers do for brothers. It’s an unwritten rule, I’ll be the first to admit that, and I’ll bet there are plenty of brothers who’d say that it isn’t a rule at all — written, unwritten, or tattooed in green ink on the soles of your feet. Where the hell did I get that one, right? Too much time with Henry, that’s what that is.