Our Littlest Brother

by Dan Crawley Read author interview September 29, 2010

We tie up our littlest brother with duct tape Dad says is off-limits and Mom says is not a toy. Around and around his scrawny wrists and bony elbows like we do with those G.I. Joes who let themselves get captured by the enemy in the jungle. Around and around his puny legs, sharp ankles. We tape his mouth; he’s bawling like the time we dumped him in the fridge box and rolled him down the stairs. Snot gushing out of his nose cracks us up. We circle him, grinning big like the enemy does. We’ll drag him next door, deep into the thickly dark jungle where the enemy’s headquarters is. Our littlest brother knows what he’s in for.

Just yesterday! He’s calling our oldest brother a wussy for bawling after end-oing his bike into a parked car—we couldn’t believe our oldest brother almost made it all the way down Almond Street blindfolded! The front tire’s all messed up like Evel Knieval’s. “What a wussy,” our littlest brother kept keeping on, our oldest brother squirming all over the street like a slug. Now look who’s squirming all over the grass like a slug.

“Dad’ll dump you in the freezer,” we say. Dad hates slugs since way back. Dad picks them off the grass and dumps them in those baggies and freezes them so they’ll croak. Mom thought it was meat and dumped the frozen hunk into the pan and screamed like crazy. “You’re going nuts,” Mom screamed at Dad and so he started shoving the stuck-together hunk of slugs down the garage disposal. “Don’t take it out on an appliance.”

“What a wussy,” our oldest brother now says to our littlest brother who’s probably peeing himself. The rest of us shout stuff like: “Ha!” and “Oh man, oh man!” We drag the wussy next door, up on Nadine’s front step. We ring the bell and scatter.

We hear Nadine screaming at our littlest brother, “Get off my goddamn stoop. Get moving or I’ll toss a pot of boiling water on you.” Nadine hates little kids since way back. Nadine tells our littlest brother, “I’ll sic my dogs on you.”

We hate her yipping poodles since way back. Once we stuck Ex-Lax inside balls of Mom’s real meat and threw them over the wall.

She steps over our littlest brother to get a good look around. We see her black bra, like always, her big boobies sticking out of that nasty robe she wears all the time. Once she came outside with no robe, her black bra and fat boobies and this short-short black dress about five sizes too small for her fat butt. That was when she cussed out our dad. We sat on our bikes at the end of our driveway and Nadine’s at the end of her driveway. Our dad told her, “What were you thinking moving into a house right next door to a two-story house with five bedrooms? Only a big family with lots and lots of kids would live here.” Nadine yelled back, “I guess I wasn’t thinking, you goddamn baby factory. Keep them off my grass, you shit-for-brains.” Then Nadine built a wall between our grass and her grass. She wanted it tall like regular backyard walls but Dad said the city wouldn’t let her. So her wall has these long steps down to the sidewalk that we love climbing on. And the lowest step is perfect for a ramp. We jump our bikes onto her grass. If we fall, it’s just like spreading out on our beds.

Nadine slams her front door. Our littlest brother rolls himself off her porch and we cackle from behind bushes and trees. Then Nadine’s niece shows up. She’s old enough to drive a car and she doesn’t even turn off the car but runs up to our littlest brother and unties him. Oh man, he’s hugging Nadine’s niece, pressing his face right into her boobies. Like she’s his mommy.

Every time Nadine’s niece shows up our oldest brother turns into a retard. Like now he’s mumbling at her and chewing on a big wad of his shirt at the same time. Our littlest brother takes off, running away to our real mommy. Nadine’s niece yells at us like she’s our real mommy. She says we shouldn’t mess with Nadine and says she’ll tell us something she should have told us a long time ago. Her Aunt Nadine ran over her own daughter! She didn’t know the kid was sitting behind her car. Probably playing with some rock or stick or something like that.

“We’ll bash up one of our sister’s dolls and put it on Nadine’s driveway,” we say.

Nadine’s niece pushes us over the low wall, pinning down our shoulders with her round knees and slaps the tops of our heads with her red hands. Oh man, oh man, our oldest brother helps her tie all of us up with duct tape. “We wouldn’t really do it,” we say before he tapes our mouths shut.

Our littlest brother shows back up. He leans over us, smiling big. He runs over to the spigot and turns on the sprinklers. That’s what we would’ve done.

About the Author:

Dan Crawley teaches writing at Ottawa University, and was awarded a creative writing fellowship in fiction by the Arizona Commission on the Arts. His stories have appeared in the North American Review, Mississippi Review Online, Quarterly West, Bartleby Snopes, and elsewhere.

About the Artist:

More photos from Mark Robinson can be found on flickr here.