For the large majority of our lives we lived in a one room basement apartment. Billy was the oldest and since he was a boy 4 years older than his whore of sister who may try to rape him in his sleep, he had his own bed. Jeffrey and I slept with the beast in her full sized bed which leaned up against a wall of moving boxes that reached the ceiling. My younger brother Jeffrey and I spent many hours laughing at the stories we would make up to fit the silly phrase that covered each box.
“Smith This Side Up”.
We would create foolish tales about the beast standing on her head for all of the boxes that were upside down and change the methods in which she became that way. We often wondered why she wanted to be upside down since her last name was Smith and she was, after all, the one who wrote the silly phrase. This was a form of entertainment that we never tired of.
There were always new stories to craft that would make my brother laugh. I loved to make Jeffrey laugh. He was my childhood playmate, he would do anything his big sister wanted from Barbie dolls to matchbox cars, Jeffrey and I were inseparable.
On her good days, the beast would tease us because we slept together like cats. Each and every night our tiny bodies intertwined like pretzels until we found the comfort spot. Jeffrey and I felt this was a compliment as we both loved cats but more than anything else, we loved it when the beast had a good day and we tried everything in our power not to upset her.
We were only a year apart in age but Jeffrey had been born with severe mental retardation and was prone to frequent seizures due to his epilepsy. Many nights at the table would end with my lethargic sibling falling asleep on his dinner plate after having had yet another seizure. Jeffrey’s seizures were controlled by medication throughout much of his childhood and he thrived in the schools he was sent to in a bus that was much smaller than any school bus I had ever been on He was the happiest child I have ever seen and Jeffrey loved everyone he met.
Unfortunately everyone did not love Jeffrey back and this caused many physical confrontations for me as a child. In addition to his learning challenges, Jeffrey’s father was a black man, which made Jeffrey the only “colored person” to reside in the small, largely Republican, very political town we inhabited and also the source of much anger for the townspeople and their cookie cutter children. The mere existence of our family caused deep turmoil for several families and Jeffrey was always a target for cruelty. It is still and may always make my body wince as I recall these memories now but at that time no one would lay a finger on Jeffrey as long as his sister could help it.
If anyone dared to hassle my brother, they had the wrath of a beast child on their ass immediately and if my senses told me that a foul name would be called out to him or the swing of a rock in his direction may occur, the beast child within me of me would attack swiftly.
And for my loyalty to him, Jeffrey took care of me in every way that he knew how. It was Jeffrey who ran to me with a handful of books as the beast was approaching me with the belt and told me to put them in my shirt and pants so it wouldn’t hurt so bad. I had never even thought of this and I loved the way he took care of me. I was called coocha and he was called coo and together we were coocha coo. We used these names for each other well into my teen years and a smile opens up in my heart every single time that I think of it.
I hate people who hate.