…One Brother

White quiet halls, scuffs covering walls, nurses pad by in soft shoes. Whisper, obedient brother. Crumpled sheets on vacated gurney, heart leaps then falls as toilet flushes. Bow down, father’s son.

Brother, standing in the doorway of father’s hospital room, steps aside when an orderly arrives pushing a wheelchair.

“You takin’ him home?” the orderly asks.

“That’s what I’m here for,” brother answers.

The orderly leaves without comment. Father exits the washroom and torments brother with yellow eyes.

“Are you ready to leave father?” brother squirms, offering the chair.

Father turns, sits and waits for brother to gather his belongings. Brother wheels him to the car.

The two drive through rapidly emptying streets into the setting sun. Brother squints and glances at father’s hands in his lap. Old and sallow, liver failure tinctures his skin.

“Stop at the liquor store,” father commands, his first utterance of the journey.

“Yes, sir,” brother concedes, relieved to turn away from the blazing, bloody beam of the sunset.

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