M spoke to the boys from the alley through the white windows in the back room. In my mind’s eye, I crept on the fiery red-orange carpet right behind you, quietly and on my knees, holding in my laughter with all my might, moments before you scared her something so fierce she shot straight up on the bed. We guffawed when she realized it was you. She yelled “Dadaroy!” in amused relief, but she never spoke to them through the window again.
Annoyed at her incessant prattling, the laugh that scratches ears like lips blown too hard against a glass’ mouth, in a single motion you lightly lifted B and threw her on the couch and said, “Sit your kiss-me-ass down!” We pressed our lips together, dimples rearing, because we were annoyed too.
Peeking at you on the balcony off of the kitchen, looking out at the coconut and banana trees down below just before you flicked the cigarette you inhaled in secret over the railing when you heard grandma calling your name.
You eating peanut butter straight from the jar with a spoon. Me following suit.
The flesh colored patch, shaped like a big guitar pick stuck to your chest, keeping you with us.
Endless records lining the walls in the room with the blue carpet and all your guitars. Jazz always playing.
The pride I felt every time I heard Milo and the Kings.
You looking for your cigarettes in the top drawer where you left them. Calling the three of us for answers, the little thieves who always slid the packs back where they belonged when you weren’t looking.
Taking us for ice cream instead of straight to school.
Half of a grapefruit sprinkled with sugar at breakfast.
Buying me McDonald’s while they buried my father.
How you were kind to my mother’s second husband, even though you hated him.
How you loved Archie Bunker.
How you despised Steve Urkel but always let me watch the show from the foot of your bed.
How you refused to leave the house on Haabets Gade for the bigger one up Mafolie with the pool and jacuzzi and better view.
Doling out a dollar for everyday you missed that week from your hospital bed.
Your skin darker than I remembered as you lay, without your glasses, in your casket.
Gravediggers mixing cement while a woman sang at the cemetery.
The men laying bricks, sealing your tomb.
The scream that followed the moment I realized you weren’t coming back.
How everything changed.