by Adam Daniel
We told our parents we were going fishing. My brother stuffed contraband down one of his bootlegs, and we set out for the creek in the woods behind our house.
Nothing good ever came from those boots. He wore them black and with a pointed toe.
I asked him, “Why do you wear them with a point?”
“They are best for climbing chain link fences,” he said. “You never know when you will need to climb a fence.”
When we were children, it was small things: lighters lifted from convenience stores, nips of liquor swiped from our parent’s cabinet, a crumpled package of cigarettes.
At the creek, we smoked. Or took turns pulling from the bottle of dark, warm liquid. We skimmed rocks along the water and watched the sunlight turn hazy. Not once did we fish.
No longer creek beds and whiskey, but vacant lots and switchblades. I saw my brother cut a kid across the cheek. It was the way he carried the blade that got to me. It was as if it belonged in his hand. The action was quick and cold and deliberate. You hardly saw it. The next thing you knew, a boy, just like any other neighborhood boy was flailing on the ground, trying to hold flaps of his face together.
When he got the truck, we did not see him for days at a time. My mother stayed up late watching movies. Dad paced the kitchen drinking beer and muttering. I waited in his bedroom playing solitaire with my lucky deck.
I slept in his bed on these nights. I listened for him to come home, for the heels of those boots to click on the driveway and up the stairs. I fell asleep and dreamt of the adventures he was having with the newfound freedom the truck gave him.
He woke me with beer breath, pushed me to the side, and crawled into bed. Boots and clothes and all.
The last time I saw my brother, it was from across the bar. He was pulling a bag of coke from the leg of his boot. I ordered a beer. He went to the bathroom. While he was gone, I ordered him one too. When he came back and the bartender pointed him in my direction, he did not look. He nodded, drank, and walked out on me forever.
Last week I saw his boots in the window of a pawn shop just on the edge of town.
Adam Daniel studied English at The University of Texas. He currently lives and writes in Austin.