It's one of those things, the cliche goes, that you can choose your friends but you can't choose your family. I love my family dearly, including my brother, but we have never gotten along. Since we were babies, we were at each other's throats -- literally. Even as grown ass men, I sometimes worry that our interactions will become physically hostile.
Again, I do love my big brother--let's call him Steev. When shit hits the fan, I know he'd be there for me. He hates the fact that I'm gay and in that small town world where my parents live a real, live homosexual is still the talk of the town -- though I've been gone for 12 years. Last Christmas my brother said, "Mike asked me about that shit," to which I replied, "Who the fuck is Mike?!" Seriously, I feel so bad sometimes that I'm the scandal of my parents who are the most not scandalous people ever to live.
Steev has always been bitterly jealous of me for all the wrong reasons. I was the one who made good grades, went to college, lives a fabulous (if I do say so myself) life in New York City, and moved out of my parent's house where his old ass still lives. I never got in trouble, not because I didn't do trouble-making things, but because I never got caught. He can't even turn right on red without getting pulled over. I had embarrassment issues about him dating from years back, and as I have told him on occasion his redneck ass is more embarassing to me than my faggot ass could ever be to him.
In fairness to him, I was always a little jealous of him too. He was the one that was good at sports, popular, and new how to do things like shoot guns* and talk shit with our uncles. He got into drus at 15 and it's been up and down with the booze and coke since. Myself, I've always been able to handle my drugs and alcohol, which may have something to do with the fact that I was a late bloomer in that regard. Anyway, he always won in competitions from sports to playing "pencils" to fucking Nintendo.
There are countless occasions, however, when I was about to beat him at something and he would somehow sabotage the game.
Well once upon a time we were playing down by the pond at the end of the yard and the edge of the field behind my parents house and Steev produced a pack of matches. Good old fashioned stick matches. We're about 9 and 11 respectively. G.I. Joe was there. Forts for said G.I. Joe were built. Matches. G.I. Joe. Lots of wheatgrass. Dry summer. Long story short, the G.I. Joes escaped into the pond on a raft, fleeing the fire that had started on the riverbank.
Before we were fully aware of what was going on, and before the flashbacks to Smokey the Bear kicked in, there was a HUGE blaze in the wheatgrass that began to spread...and spread...
The father from two doors up (we never really like him or his kids) came running out with a wet towel (?) trying to slap the fire out with the fucking J.C. Penny collection. But the fire had grown to too big of proportions.
The fire department came, and by the time they got the fire it, its blaze had moved a long way back, almost to the barn at the top of the slopey field. The fire department left, the neighbors went back inside and that the end of it. Steev and I talked little about it between us as we didn't really didn't get into trouble over it and didn't want to jinx that anomoly in the system. Even when our dad got home from work, there wasn't much said about the charred ash of a field behind our house. My mother, however, was deeply embarrassed that this had happened and gave us the silent treatment for days. The silent treatment includes a stop on services rendered as well.
One of the neighbors kids did try to console me with some explanation about how sometimes farmers do set their fields ablaze so as to change the soil somehow -- not too clear on the "science" behind this. I think he was partially right however, because from the tragedy of the field emerged, over a period of years, a thick wood of evergreen trees filled with deer and other little forest creatures. Genesis, like the Phoenix from the ashes?